For most people building a home is often a once in a lifetime investment, and that is why it is very important to see that it is built with proper attention to planning and quality. It requires that the foundation on which the home rests be the best and always remain in flawless condition. This can be ensured by having the foundation work originally carried out by an experienced and professional foundation contractor.
Any building will always be built from the bottom upwards, and the lowest level, which is the foundation, is the one that acts to provide the entire structure of all the support that it requires. It is important that the soil in the foundation of your home be tested in certified and accredited laboratories and the results sent to the structural engineer who will be designing the structure of your home. These laboratories indicate the soil bearing capacities, and the designing engineers take this into consideration while deciding the type, size, and configuration of any foundation that they suggest. They may also at times suggest strengthening of the soil, provision of proper drainage and other things that can be beneficial to the foundation. In poor soils, stabilization can be attained by piling or other mechanical means that will allow the foundation to rest directly on rock or firmer soil.
Any foundation contractor that you ultimately give the job of creating a good foundation for your home must be able to execute any design of a foundation suggested by the structural engineer who is responsible for the stability of the structure of your home. Their work is better supervised by this structural designer so that any specifications he lays down are very strictly followed. The contractor you choose must be licensed and certified to work in your area and must carry the necessary insurance that can cover any unforeseen accidents. A properly licensed contractor is able to get such permission to work documents, only after his credentials and capabilities are examined in detail by highly competent overseeing authorities. This way, you have the assurance that the contractor is technically competent to carry out the work entrusted to the company.
The structural engineer will after receiving soil testing reports, design a foundation with certain structural criteria that take into account the likely loads that will be imposed on the foundation and will often include a factor of safety, as per building codes, and which can ensure that your home will withstand all internal and external forces, like earthquakes. The foundation contractor on his part must ensure that the foundation work is carried out with the best materials and must also satisfy the engineer’s requirements with the suggested testing of materials and completed work. In case of any doubts, engineers may ask for load testing of foundations that may require them to withstand the imposed loads with a factor of safety.
Agencies entrusted with carrying out the work for foundations must also be capable of constructing basements and bringing the home to plinth level after which the general contractor can take over. It is not uncommon for homeowners to entrust the work to general contractors, with the understanding that the foundation work will be carried put by another agency who is specialized in foundation work and has all the equipment, technical expertise, and capability to provide foundations on which the work can then be completed.
You will also require the services of a competent foundation contractor in case, over the years your home starts showing signs of distress, like cracks in walls, ill-fitting doors and windows, sunken floors and other indications of foundation failure. This is an indication that the soil below the existing foundation has given way, and this can result from flooding or other conditions that lead to changes in the soil on which the original foundations are based. Poor attention to quality by the agency carrying out the original foundation work can also be a reason. In such cases, a good agency specializing in foundation work, can make an independent assessment of the state of the foundation and suggest remedial measures that can bring the home back to its required stability.
Contractors who repair foundations will suggest various methods like pressure grouting that forces cement mortar into weak foundations and virtually floats them back into position. They can also suggest piles or underpinning measures that will first create new firm foundations that go down to strata that has the required strength, and then connecting the existing foundation elements to the new ones. These contractors are real specialists and will have a team that includes structural engineers who can give their technical advise to restore the foundations. Any repairs to the various parts of the home are better carried out only after the foundation experts have completed the repairs and certified that the home is back on a firm footing that has taken care of all the earlier problems.
In the worst case, a foundation may need to be completely replaced. this is a process that is very involved and complicated and its difficulty of execution can depend on the extent of the damage to the foundation, the overlying structure and its location and present conditions that are affecting the soil below the foundation. You will require to appoint technical experts who can analyze the situation and understand all the causes and reasons for the foundation failure, and then suggest the steps that can be undertaken to replace the foundation. In such case, the utilities in the home need to be turned off, and the home may need to be lifted a few feet above its foundations so that sufficient space is created for putting the new foundation in place. It may at times require the earth below the foundations to be recompacted, or piles to be inserted, that can then be joined together with the new foundation on which the home will now rest. The home can then be lowered on to its new foundations, utilities reconnected, and any repairs to walls and other parts of the building carried out.