Foundations (Industrial Report) - UK - January 2014
Building foundations form the part of a structure which is in direct contact with the ground and transmits the load of the structure to the ground. The type of foundation is dependent upon the soil characteristics and the nature of the construction.
The market for foundations is inextricably linked to construction output. While all buildings require an element of foundation work, the techniques identified in this report are only used in specific circumstances. These include compensating for different soil types as well as allowing the growing trend towards so-called brownfield developments of land. The market trends therefore tend to reflect those in the construction sector, particularly construction starts. However, the market is also influenced by specific building projects which typically require additional foundation work. In recent years, these have included the growing levels of construction in dockland areas, as well as new construction of large scale civil engineering and commercial properties where demand for foundation work is often particularly high.
This report profiles the market for a variety of foundations techniques which are defined below.
Piling is used to transmit foundation loads through weak or compressible strata to stronger soil or rock. Piles are also used in cohesive soils to spread the load of the structure into the soil along the length of the pile. Piles may be constructed from timber, steel or concrete, the most common material being reinforced is pre-stressed concrete. More recently, there has been some progress in developing plastic piling systems, particularly for sheet piling applications. A number of different piling techniques are detailed below.
- Bored piling, also known as non-displacement piling, is typically used for structures built on clay soils.
- Cast in-situ piles are formed by boring a hole into the ground, lowering a reinforcement cage into the hole and filling it with concrete.
- CFA piling allows the construction of piles with minimal environmental disturbance. An auger is rotated into the ground and, as it is withdrawn, concrete is pumped down the central hollow core of the auger to fill the bore with concrete. A reinforcement cage is subsequently inserted into the concrete to support the pile while it sets.
- Driven piling, also known as displacement piling, may be used where the piles are of a known and constant length.
- Driven cast in-situ piles comprise a hollow steel tube which is driven into the ground. When the tube reaches the required depth, a reinforcement cage is lowered inside it and as the tube is withdrawn concrete is poured into the hole.
- Driven pre-cast piles are manufactured in horizontal casing beds and are installed by track mounted, hydraulic units.
- Diaphragm walling is a method of placing concrete in the ground without the need for preliminary excavation. The method uses a bentonite slurry to fill the hole as excavation proceeds. Following excavation, reinforcement cages and concrete are placed into the hole displacing the bentonite mud.
Bentonite, also known as fullers earth, is widely used in several piling applications due to its unusual properties. Bentonite penetrates surrounding soil, forming a stabilising membrane or gel against the holes as piling work proceeds. Typically, a bentonite slurry is displaced as the piling continues and it can then be used until it becomes contaminated with soil.
Typically, bored piling techniques are used on clay based soils while granular soils typically favour the use of driven piling.
Underpinning is used to transfer a foundation load from its existing bearing level to a new level at a lower depth. Underpinning is often carried out as remedial work following settlement of the existing foundation, to increase the load bearing capacity of the foundation or to allow the adjacent ground level to be lowered. Two methods of underpinning are widely used including the forming of a new mass concrete strip foundation below the existing foundation and the installation of mini or small diameter bored piles to transfer the load to a lower bearing stratum.
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