digging foundations

When Digging Foundations Is Necessary: the Specialty Grading Technique

What Is Foundation Excavation?

Foundation excavation is the process of removing earth and rocks from an area designated for the base of a new structure. 

Excavation allows the footings to be poured into dirt that is deeper than the top layer. 

This adds protection from various elements, including earth and rocks that shift over the years.

Read on to find out more about this important process!

How Long Does It Take?

The length of time required is based on the size of what is being constructed.

While some can be dug in a few days, others may take weeks.

Allowing for proper digging ensures the job will be done correctly without overlooking important steps.

How Deep Should A Foundation Be?

The depth is another element that will depend on what is being built. Single story homes and homes without a cellar will have a much shallower foundation.

Multi-story houses and larger structures require deeper trenches and larger foundations as they will carry more weight.

Codes generally call for foundations to be poured below the frost line so that they are not affected by the freezing and thawing of the earth in cold months.

As the trenches being dug get deeper it is common for the dirt to need reinforcement to prevent it from backfilling before a footing is poured.

Digging Foundations the Right Way

Here is our digging process from start to finish:

Survey

A critical part of any excavation project, surveying determines where everything will be built which helps us know where to begin for building foundations.

It also helps determine materials that are needed if the soil is not adequate for supporting the foundation or structure.

This is done as we check the soil test results with the engineer. Special attention is given to decide if there are certain materials not suitable to support the foundation of building projects.

Clay is a common material that will have to be removed if it is discovered.

Excavation

The next step is the actual excavation. How excavation is carried out depends on numerous factors:

  • The depth of the foundation and the trenches required
  • The type of dirt to be excavated
  • The drainage properties of the land
  • Whether there will be a basement or crawlspace 

Open Hole Inspection

engineer checking soil test

Once the excavation is complete, the site is revisited and inspected. A certified professional checks the soil again to make sure that it matches the first report. 

When the requirements and test results are accepted, the process of pouring the concrete footings begins. Once this has been set and impact-tested for hardness then it is alright to build a foundation.

A Fully Supported Foundation

The foundation is the most critical part of any construction providing structural integrity. It is the level concrete base that supports the new construction from corner to corner.

While concrete itself is designed to be strong and provide support in many applications, there are some factors that will affect its ability to hold the structure’s weight over the years.

Keeping Moisture Out 

As the foundation provides support, it is also relied on to help prevent the structure from absorbing moisture. Codes recommend applying a sealing agent to protect the walls against water damage.

Water can cause damage to wood causing mold, rot or mildew.

Insulating from the Cold

A concrete foundation acts as an insulation barrier that stops the cold earth from drawing the heat from the structure. 

This is especially important in areas with colder climates as this affects the energy efficiency of a home.

Building a foundation that is poured too shallow or with inferior materials will may not adequately insulate from the cold.

Protecting Against Ground Movement

It is important to note that ground movement is not limited to earthquakes. The earth is constantly settling and there are natural events that can further affect this. 

Underground water plays a large roll in the settling of the earth as well as larger events like landslides, and floods. A foundation should be able to withstand any regular disturbance that would otherwise cause the house to become unstable. 

If you are constructing a residential or commercial property in and around the Prescott, AZ area, we would love to hear from you.

Leave a comment below or ask any questions you have on how to prepare the best foundation for your job.

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