Spotlight on services: Foundations

18 September 2018

We provide a wide range of niche and specialised groundworks services at Mackoy. Each of which is undertaken by a fully trained, experienced, and qualified member of our team. Who has the unique skills to complete the job to the safe industry standards, and quality controls, we at Mackoy (and our clients) command.

Throughout our 'spotlight on services' series we'll take a more in-depth look at each of the groundworks and civil engineering areas we offer. Getting to grips with what's involved from start to finish and why it's so important to engage a professional company to complete the works. Not only for your own peace of mind, but also to ensure standards comply with building regulations and local authority planning.

Foundations are the cornerstone of any new property or infrastructure build. Not only creating the footprint for the entire surface area of the building, but also defining where utilities will sit, and the distances between neighbouring boundaries.

Digging out a trench might not sound like complex work. But getting those first foundations exactly right can't be underestimated. A little too far to the right or the left, and not only will you throw your entire building's plan into chaos. You also risk the wrath of the local planning authority intervening if your home isn't precisely where it should be according to approved plans.

It's for reasons such as this that the setting out stage of a foundation build is so important. Site drawings will provide the detail in terms of dimensions and distances. So it's vital to acquire these before excavation works begin. Always ensuring that the drawings you're working with are the very latest versions.

As our groundworkers know all too well, drawings on any new development are frequently reviewed and updated. So we check in daily with the site manager or foreman at the start of any works. Making sure any setting out for foundation lines adheres to the latest available client specs.

We can't stress enough how important the setting out stage is to the entire foundations process, and everything that follows. So it really doesn't pay to rush through this vital step. Getting it wrong is easier than you might imagine to the untrained eye. Mistakes all add money to the end cost of a build. Not to mention inspectors will be looking closely to make sure that each building or plot is exactly where it's supposed to be.

For this reason we don't take any chances when we're excavating foundations on a client's development. Using chalk spray and corner pegs to clearly define foundation lines during the setting out stage before embarking on any excavation works. Defining these boundaries above ground, before digging out begins, means the foundations are still easy to reposition if needs be. As once excavating has commenced, changes are more costly to correct.

Typically foundations fall into two types - Trench Fill and Strip. With trench fill foundations no underground bricklaying is needed. The trenches are simply filled with a concrete pour to within around 15cm of the foundation's surface. However, it's only possible to use this trench technique in hard standing soil types, as it requires the trench walls to be strong and stable. Strip foundations on the other hand use less concrete but are wider. This type of trench is commonly used in soft earth, and sloping sites.

At Mackoy we're able to provide both foundation types and guide you towards the correct one to use on your unique development. After all, the soil you're working with also influences the depth of foundation you need to dig. So it's important to ascertain the composition makeup of the soil before making any concrete decisions regarding foundation structures. Something a Site Investigation (another of our Mackoy services) can easily establish.

Getting foundations right isn't just a case of knowing where to dig, and how deep either. You also need to prepare the ground properly before the concrete can be poured. Which is where oversite and plate compactor knowledge comes in. Fail to properly infill the foundations and it won't be long before you see settlement take effect and cracks start to appear.

Another aspect of our foundation work at Mackoy involves digging trenches for utilities and drainage. These essential services connect a building to mainline gas, electricity and water. As well as ensure clean and proper waste disposal from plumbed toilets into sewers. So they're a key part of the groundworks infrastructure packages we provide our clients with at Mackoy.

Levels especially are essential to get right when you're installing drainage systems. If the foundations aren't dug correctly, to the appropriate depth and gradient, extra measures may be needed to support the pipes. Which inevitably impacts build timescales, not to mention budgets. So it's vital to use a groundworks contractor with experience in developing trench systems for drainage, foundations and underground services.

The final part of the foundation process involves testing and backfilling. And these two stages are both equally important to get right. At Mackoy our trained groundworks operatives conduct any necessary testing to ensure our work is air and watertight. Before backfilling to the same high quality standard we apply throughout all aspects of our foundations building. In fact, our SHEQ Manager David Bacon conducts site inspections on all our builds to ensure works and practices are up to par and compliant with our quality controls. Just one of the ways we at Mackoy take ownership of our work and our worksites.

Since 2011 we've helped the UK's leading homebuilders create vibrant new communities of flats and houses in destinations all around the South of England. Taking on contracts that range from £250,000 to in excess of £10 million pounds. If you have a project that requires the expertise of an established groundworks contractor in Hampshire, Surrey, Sussex, Berkshire or Dorset, get in touch via our contact page.

Categories: Foundations

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