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NS Reporter: Grace T. Superales

The function of a
foundation is to transfer
the structural loads
reliably from a building
into the ground.

Foundation Requirements
A building
foundation must
different kinds of


must be safe against a structural failure that could result in collapse. including the underlying soil and rock.Foundation Requirements A satisfactory foundation for a building must meet three general requirements: 1. . The foundation.

the foundation must not settle in such a way as to damage the structure or impair its function.Foundation Requirements A satisfactory foundation for a building must meet three general requirements: 2. During the life of the building. .

.Foundation Requirements A satisfactory foundation for a building must meet three general requirements: 3. The foundation must be feasible. both technically and economically. and practical to build without adverse effects on surrounding property.

Foundations on bedrock settle a negligible amount. . Foundations in other types of soil may settle much more.Foundation Settlement • All foundations settle to some extent as the earth materials around and beneath them adjust to the loads of the building.

Settlement that occurs at differing rates between different portions of a building is termed differential settlement. . it is termed uniform settlement.• Where foundation settlement occurs at roughly the same rate throughout all portions of a building.

where soils. or structural systems differ between parts of a building. However. loads. and doors and windows may not work properly . floors may slope. the frame of the building may become distorted. different parts of the building structure may settle by substantially different amounts. differential settlement is normally not a concern.• When all parts of a building rest on the same kind of soil. walls and glass may crack. and the loads on the building and the design of its structural system are uniform throughout.

earth materials are classified according to particle size. the presence of organic content.Earth Materials For the purposes of foundation design. in the case of finer grained soils. sensitivity to moisture content: • • • • • • • • Rock Soil Boulder Cobble Gravel Sand Silt Clay . and.

Earth Materials Soil groups listed toward the top are more desirable for supporting building foundations than those listed further down. .

Earth Materials The higher listed soils tend to have better soil engineering properties  Greater load bearing capacity  more stable  React less to changes in moisture content .

• Subsurface Exploration and Soils Testing To determine the soil and water condition: • Test Pits • Borings .


. Organic topsoil is subject to decomposition and to shrinking and swelling with changes in moisture content. Often. it is scraped away from the building area and stockpiled to one side for redistribution over the site after construction of the building is complete.EXCAVATION • At least some excavation is required for every building. It is excellent for growing lawns and landscape plants but unsuitable for supporting buildings. further digging is necessary to place the footings out of reach of water and wind erosion. After the topsoil has been removed.

or for mechanical equipment and storage. . for parking. Excavation is frequently undertaken so that one or more levels of basement space can be added to a building.• Excavation is required on many sites to place the footings at a depth where soil of the appropriate bearing capacity is available. whether for additional habitable rooms.

trenching machines. in which explosives are placed and detonated in lines of closely spaced holes drilled deep into the rock. Blasting. is often necessary. In developed areas where blasting is impractical. tractor-mounted rippers. scrapers.In particulate soils. bucket loaders. Weak or highly fractured rock can sometimes be broken up with power shovels. pneumatic hammers. dump trucks come into use. rock can be broken up with hydraulic splitters . In rock. If the soil must be moved more than a short distance. a variety of excavating machines can be used to loosen and lift the soil from the ground: bulldozers. shovel dozers. or drop balls such as those used in building demolition. and power shovels of every type. backhoes. excavation is slower and many times more costly.

BUILDING Three (3) Major Parts • Superstructure • Substructure • Foundations – Shallow foundations . .penetrate through upper layers of incompetent soil in order to transfer the load to competent bearing soil or rock deeper within the earth.are those that transfer the load to the earth at the base of the column or wall of the substructure – Deep foundations .


with or without steel reinforcing.• A column footing is a square block of concrete. . A wall footing or strip footing is a continuous strip of concrete that serves the same function for a loadbearing wall . that accepts the concentrated load placed on it from above by a building column and spreads this load across an area of soil large enough that the allowable bearing stress of the soil is not exceeded.

Combined footings and cantilever footings solve this problem by tying the footings for the outside row of columns to those of the next row in such a way that any rotational tendency is neutralized. the footing would not be symmetrically loaded by the column or wall and would tend to rotate and fail. . even for a building built tightly against it. If the outer toe of the footing were simply cut off at the property line.• Footings cannot legally extend beyond a property line.

Mats for very tall buildings may be 6 feet (1.8 m) thick or more and are heavily reinforced .• In situations where the allowable bearing capacity of the soil is low in relation to the weight of the building. column footings may become large enough that it is more economical to merge them into a single mat or raft foundation that supports the entire building.

.• Where the bearing capacity of the soil is low and settlement must be carefully controlled. a fl oating foundation is sometimes used. but is placed beneath a building at a depth such that the weight of the soil removed from the excavation is equal to the weight of the building above. A fl oating foundation is similar to a mat foundation.

DEEP FOUNDATIONS • CAISSONS or DRILLED PIER – similar to a column footing in that it spreads the load from a column over a large enough area of soil that the allowable stress in the soil is not exceeded. – video . It differs from a column footing in that it extends through strata of unsatisfactory soil beneath the substructure of a building until it reaches a more suitable stratum.

if required.• A caisson is constructed by drilling or hand-digging a hole. is created at the bottom of the shaft either by hand excavation or by a special belling bucket on the drill .39) are used for drilling caissons. A temporary cylindrical steel casing is usually lowered around the drill as it progresses to support the soil around the hole. belling (fl aring) the hole out at the bottom as necessary to achieve the required bearing area. the bell. and fi lling the hole with concrete.38 and 2. hand excavation is used only if the soil is too full of boulders for the drill. When a fi rm bearing stratum is reached. Large auger drills (Figures 2.

Its bearing capacity comes not only from its end bearing.37) is drilled into rock at the bottom rather than belled. .41 shows the installation of a rock caisson or drilled-in caisson.4 m) or more. A socketed caisson (Figure 2.• Caissons are large. Their shaft diameters range from 18 inches (460 mm) up to 8 feet (2. the temporary steel casing can prevent fl ooding of the caisson hole during its construction. heavy-duty foundation components. Where groundwater is present. a special type of socketed caisson with a steel H-section core. but from the frictional forces between the sides of the caisson and the rock as well. Belled caissons are practical only where the bell can be excavated in a cohesive soil (such as clay) that can retain its shape until concrete is poured. water may be able to fi ll the hole from below and caisson construction may not be practical. Figure 2. But where the bearing stratum is permeable.


concrete. and various combinations of these materials – Video – It may be used where noncohesive soils. steel. – Piles may be made of timber. .DEEP FOUNDATIONS • PILES – A pile is distinguished from a caisson by being forcibly driven into the earth rather than drilled and poured. or excessive depth of bearing strata make caissons impractical. subsurface water conditions.

which distributes the load of the column or wall above among the piles . The piles in each cluster are later joined at the top by a reinforced concrete pile cap. .• Piles are usually driven closely together in clusters that contain 2 to 25 piles each.

compressed air. then follows the pile down as it penetrates the earth. The piledriver mechanism includes lifting machinery to raise each pile into position before driving. . The hammer travels on tall vertical rails called leads (pronounced “leeds”) at the front of a piledriver (Figure 2. It is fi rst hoisted up the leads to the top of each pile as driving commences. Single-acting hammers fall by gravity alone. then dropped against a block that is in fi rm contact with the top of the pile. while double-acting hammers are forced downward by reverse application of the energy source that lifts the hammer.• Pile Driving Pile hammers are massive weights lifted by the energy of steam. or a diesel explosion.46). compressed hydraulic fl uid.

and various combinations of these materials • Timber piles have been used since Roman times. they cannot be spliced during driving and are. Unless pressure treated with a wood preservative or completely submerged below the water table. . On the minus side. concrete.000 kg). Relatively small hammers must be used in driving timber piles to avoid splitting them. when they were driven by large mechanical hammers hoisted by muscle power. approximately 65 feet (20 m).• Pile Materials Piles may be made of timber. they will decay (the lack of free oxygen in the water prohibits organic growth). limited to the length of available tree trunks. steel. Capacities of individual timber piles lie in the range of 10 to 55 tons 9000 to 50. Their main advantage is that they are economical for lightly loaded foundations. therefore.

welded together as driving progresses to form any necessary length of pile. and cut off with an oxyacetylene torch when the required depth is reached. which can lead to upward heaving of nearby soil and buildings. Steel pipe piles have diameters of 8 to 16 inches (200 to 400 mm). 8 to 14 inches (200 to 355 mm) deep. wide-fl ange sections.Two forms of steel piles are used. Allowable loads on H-piles run from 30 to 225 tons (27. where it can lift adjacent buildings. H-piles are special hot-rolled. H-piles displace relatively little soil during driving. called heaving. The cutoff ends can then be welded onto other piles to avoid waste. They displace relatively large amounts of soil during driving. H-piles cannot be inspected after driving to be sure they are straight and undamaged.000 kg). that sometimes occurs when many piles are driven close together. They may be driven with the lower end either open or closed with a heavy steel plate. This minimizes the upward displacement of adjacent soil.000 to 270. Corrosion can be a problem in some soils. They are used mostly in end bearing applications. Pipe piles are stiff and can carry loads from 40 to 300 tons (36. The larger sizes of pipe piles require a very heavy hammer for driving . but its interior must be cleaned of soil and inspected before being fi lled with concrete. whereas a closed pile can be inspected and concreted immediately after driving.000 to 204. An open pile is easier to drive than a closed one. which are approximately square in cross section. H-piles can be brought to the site in any convenient lengths. H-piles and pipe piles.000 kg). and unlike closed pipe piles and hollow precast concrete piles. Heaving can be a particular problem on urban sites. however.

or 400 mm) can cause ground heaving.000 kg).49). Typical cross-sectional dimensions range from 10 to 16 inches (250 to 400 mm) and bearing capacities from 45 to 500 tons (40.000 kg).• Precast concrete piles are square. and the larger diameters of sitecast piles (up to 16 inches.47–2. The shell is sometimes corrugated to increase its stiffness.000 to 450. The primary reason to use sitecast concrete piles is their economy . see pages 544–548). Advantages of precast piles include high load capacity.000 to 136. A sitecast concrete pile is made by driving a hollow steel shell into the ground and fi lling it with concrete. tight-fi tting liner) is inserted in the shell during driving to protect the shell from collapse. then withdrawn before concreting. Most are prestressed. and in large sizes often have open cores to allow inspection (Figures 2. in most situations. Splices between lengths of precast piling can be made effectively with mechanical fastening devices that are cast into the ends of the sections. Some shells with longitudinal corrugations are stiff enough that they do not require mandrels. or round in section. octagonal. Load capacities range from 45 to 150 tons (40. but some for smaller buildings are merely reinforced (for an explanation of prestressing. a heavy steel mandrel (a stiff. a relative economy of cost. Some types of mandreldriven piles are limited in length. if the corrugations are circumferential. Precast piles must be handled carefully to avoid bending and cracking before installation. and. an absence of corrosion or decay problems.

• Underpinning is the process of strengthening and stabilizing the foundations of an existing building It may be required for any of several reasons: The existing foundations may never have been adequate to carry their loads.54 illustrate in diagrammatic form some selected concepts of underpinning. stronger stratum of soil. leading to excessive settlement of the building over time. or the soil itself can be strengthened by grouting or by chemical treatment. A change in building use or additions to the building may overload the existing foundations. underpinning is a highly specialized task that is seldom the same for any two buildings. Whatever the cause.53 and 2. Figures 2. New construction near a building may disturb the soil around its foundations or require that its foundations be carried deeper. . deep foundations can be inserted under shallow ones to carry the load to a deeper. Three different alternatives are available when foundation capacity needs to be increased: The foundations may be enlarged. new.

seeking alternative site locations and building . On a large building project. on the basis of site exploration and laboratory reports. its size and shape. at least three designers are involved in these decisions: the architect. its weight. who must decide. who has primary responsibility for the location and form of the building. it is possible for the foundation engineer to design foundations for a building design dictated entirely by the architect. and the required degree of fl exibility of its construction. how best to support it in the earth. In some cases. Subsurface conditions beneath a site can strongly infl uence fundamental decisions about a building—its location on the site. unless certain compromises can be reached on the form and location of the building.Designing Foundations • It is a good idea to begin the design of the foundations of a building at the same time as architectural design work commences. who has primary responsibility for its physical integrity. the cost of the foundations may consume a much larger share of the construction budget than the architect has anticipated. It is safer and more productive for the architect to work with the foundation engineer from the outset. and the foundation engineer. the structural engineer. More often than not. however.

Increasing the column or wall load from a building beyond what can be supported by a shallow foundation.• Building below the water table. Building close to an existing structure. .