Building foundations provide support for our structures by transferring the weight of the entire building and all the indirect loads that are applied to the earth. By definition, foundations are the structures that support the building from underneath. From a structural point of view, a foundation is a structure built in the ground that holds the building structure and keeps it stable. To put it simply, our foundations support our building standstill and well even after solid typhoons and earthquakes.
Several foundation types are built depending on their purpose and application. In addition, some foundation types are designed based on considerations such as:
- Current ground conditions – soil bearing capacity, susceptibility to ground settlement, and soil type are essential factors in the design of footings.
- The water content of the soil – soil liquefaction and water content affect the settlement of the ground.
- Therefore, it must be considered to cope with the dimensions of footings and reinforcements.
- The type of structure and its form pertains to the applied loads and torsional effects of the design.
- Spatial constraints – smaller spaces or lot areas may force us to design combined footings rather than isolated ones.
- Accessibility of the area where the structure is built
- Territorial constraints (boundaries and territories) can lead us to design L-footings to not invade the neighbors’ territories.
- Seismic conditions – effects of earthquakes and ground movements are still vital to the design of foundations.•
- External considerations such as vibrations on or near the area
The bottom line is that many factors are still considered during its design and structural calculations, whatever the type of foundation is used. Dimensions, depth of foundation, spacing, concrete strength, and steel reinforcements are the products of careful structural and engineering calculations. Homebuilder companies have geodetic engineers, structural engineers, and architects that can help you strengthen your house foundation. A team of professionals puts you and your investment in a safe place.
WHAT MAKES A STRONG FOUNDATION?
A strong foundation will always be a result of accurate and well-detailed structural analysis. With a team of knowledgeable and well-experienced professionals, a strong yet economical structural system for your house is achievable. In coming up with the analysis and design, structural or civil engineers consider the following factors:
- The self-weight of the building (or what we call the Dead Load) and its Live Load are the main factors in the design process of the structural elements. It is done from head to foot. This means that load cases are being calculated from the roof down to the footing of the building.The depth and spacing of the foundations must be adequate enough to prevent the footings from being affected by soil erosion during flooding or dislocation during the frosty season. In addition, it should be deep enough to hold the structure still during ground movements such as earthquakes and storms.
- Earthquakes are a powerful nemesis to our footing structures. Therefore, these are used in the structural analysis. First, the seismic conditions of the location where the building is to be built must be determined. Next, the frequency of the earthquakes and the distance of the area from the nearest fault lines are determined. Through these data and the use of current design codes and specifications, a strong, durable, and economical design can be attained.
Earthquakes are a natural occurrence, but through years of engineering innovations, their effects on buildings can actually be minimized (if not prevented) through engineering solutions and calculations.
- Soil or ground conditions are also one of the factors. Soil bearing capacity is determined using geotechnical engineering tests. This value is the overall capacity of the soil or ground to carry a specific amount of load without settling down. Soil type and actual soil conditions may also be determined. Through soil tests, water content and the possibility of liquefaction can also be found out.
Soil settlement is one of the dangerous enemies of your foundation structure. Therefore, geodetic engineers must correctly identify the presence, occurrence, or possibility of a soil settlement in the area. This way, engineering solutions, and designs can be introduced to anticipate the effects of soil settlements.
- Construction methods and processes are as vital as the design phase. It should be noted that faulty construction is one of the significant causes of building collapse. Therefore, initiatives such as inspecting the quality of materials and seeing that the actual reinforcement designs and dimensions of the foundation elements are followed must be strictly observed during the construction phase.
Hiring the best home builders is the best way to ensure that the construction of your homes is of the best quality. They can aid you from the design phase up to the construction phase of your custom homes.
NEW BUILDINGS ON EXISTING FOUNDATIONS
Most people often choose to buy an existing detached home in Toronto to build their new custom homes. In most cases, detached homes are usually demolished so that new homes can be constructed in the lot. But detached homes have existing foundations that can be used for our new custom homes. This brings us to an important question. Can we build new homes on existing foundations?
While it is essential to save money and time to construct our dream luxury custom homes, it is much more important to put our decision into careful scrutiny. After all, we are talking about investment security as well as the safety of our lives.
This article gives you the following pros and cons of building new homes into existing foundations.
PROS OF BUILDING ON OLD FOUNDATIONS
More and more people choose to build their new structures on existing foundations. This is because it has some notable advantages. Here are the following pros in building new homes into old foundations:
- There are limited blank land areas or lots that are available. The best option in Toronto is to purchase a lot with detached homes. Since buying a detached home for its lot has become increasingly popular in Toronto nowadays, utilizing its existing foundation can be an option for you. Detached houses have foundations that can be used for the new custom homes. If these foundations are still fresh or new, they can still be utilized if you plan to build a new custom home. If it can carry the load for the new home design within its capacity, it can be very doable.
- It can save money. Homeowners can save money from demolishing the existing foundations. They can also save money from building a new one. Since there will be no more foundation to be made, homeowners can redirect their intended foundation costs to improve and customize their homes into luxurious ones.
- It can help you save time. In areas like Toronto, time constraints are an essential factor in building homes because of its seasons. Since there will be no demolition of the existing foundation, there will also be no time to create a new one. The construction of the new homes can be sped up by the home builders if they will no longer include constructing foundations into their scope of works.
- It speeds up permit reviews and requirements. This is because the scope of works is reduced due to the existing foundation. In very few instances, building your new and luxurious custom homes on old foundations can even be considered renovation works, which helps you process your construction permits easier at a lesser cost.
- It is more sustainable. With the help of architects and engineers, homeowners can develop a design and methodology based on the existing foundation that can be customized and accommodate the custom homes’ concept. Construction garbage and debris will be minimized; hence wastes are reduced.
When ecological concerns hold a heavier weight and responsibilities, especially in the construction industry, it is very relevant to keep up with the demands for environmental sustainability.
CONS OF BUILDING ON OLD FOUNDATIONS
Old foundations also have their disadvantages. While it is notable that building on old footings is doable, it is also imperative that you first weigh down the pros and cons. The following are the disadvantages of building on old foundations.
- Old foundations may have already served for a long number of years. This is crucial to deliberate (deciding if you should build on old foundations) because old foundations have already been done for at least ten years or more. Building codes, designs, specifications, and environmental/geographical aspects may have already been updated and/or changed over this period. It is vital that while we always choose to save our money and time, we should also put a much heavier emphasis on the safety and security of our homes.
- It may create an impact on the value of your property. It may cause your home to be marketed as “old home” instead of new buildings since they are built on old foundations. If you seek to protect your investment, then this option is not for you.
- Monetary and time savings are maybe minimal. However, although it is improbable that you can only save a small amount of time and money on old foundations, it is still possible. This is why you need professionals to weigh down possible options that can help you save your resources.
HOW ARE WE GOING TO DETERMINE IF IT IS DOABLE?
How are we going to determine if the existing foundation is safe for our new homes? The decision is not an easy thing to make since we are talking about a considerable investment. But, on the other hand, we are talking about a home where our families live in comfort and shelter. We are also talking about the strength of our buildings, the security of our lives, and the lives of our loved ones.
Foundations carry our homes from the ground, and they keep these structures stable. So we came up with suggestions to help you determine if your current foundation is usable or not.
- Determine how old the existing foundation is. How old is the old foundation? You might not want to risk your investment in something that might no longer serve its purpose. Typically, the life span of solid concrete footings can last from 50 to 100 years depending on external effects like calamities or ‘acts of god.’ This could mean that the baseline can be on an average of fifteen to twenty years. If it is still fresh, then maybe it can still serve its purpose. Beyond the twenty years of age might not be good.
Ask the previous owner of the existing house when it was built to make your assessment. If possible, also ask for significant historical happenings such as fires, flooding, earthquakes, etc.
- Seek professional care. Professionals who have significant experience in this type of scenario can help you determine the capacity of the old foundations. For example, structural engineers or architects are well-versed in the structural aspects of the house. Through their knowledge, a detailed structural investigation may be done to determine the loading capacity of your house. Your team can now develop your new custom homes that will fit into the existing foundations both structurally and architecturally through this process.
Although the structural integrity of your homes mustn’t be compromised, it is also vital that you should also consider the aesthetics of the building. Nevertheless, you can still achieve your desired luxurious custom home design with the help of professionals.
Homebuilder companies such as ours have a team of professionals with significant experience and valuable knowledge to aid you in your construction.
- Evaluate the house plans. Evaluate the plans of the existing house, particularly the structural plans and design. We must keep in mind that the existing foundation is built for the creation of the current home. This is why we need to review the plans of the house. With the help of a structural engineer and architects, you can investigate the loading capacity of the existing foundation.
The existing layout, spacing, form, and dimensions of foundations will also become the basis for designing the new home that you intend to build. In addition, existing foundations help the architects develop a defined shape and form of the custom home design. They can now design the house components and placements of the rooms and amenities based on the existing forms. Using the existing design envelop also puts respect on the design of the current house. Even with the pre-existing form of the foundations, you can still achieve the design of the luxurious custom home that you dream of building.
- Inspect the current condition of the foundation. Eyes never deceive. You can actually perform your own ocular inspection of the structure. The primary failure for concrete structures is breakage. If there are cracks in the foundation structure, it can no longer be used for your new homes. Concrete cracks that are as broad as 2mm and wider means that there is an already ongoing failure in your structure. Therefore, it is best to scratch out the option to build on the old foundation. However, hairline cracks are occurring naturally and are not a danger to your structure.
Another essential thing to note during the inspection is whether the soil shows signs of ground settlement or not. A movement in the ground where the structure is situated means a movement in the structure itself. However, it is not a cause of concern, especially for minute settlements. But if you plan to build your new custom home in it, it is not a good idea. A moving ground is a danger to the building structure. Dig some holes or scrape off a portion of the soil to carefully inspect ground conditions.
Additionally, inspect the downspouts of the existing house as to where the stormwater is flowing out. If there are storm sewers or catch basins around the current home, your foundation structures should be okay. If none of those mentioned are mentioned, it could mean that the stormwater is directly dumped into the soil ground. The years and years of stormwater seeping into the environment may have harmed your foundations, most especially if there are cracks in them. In addition, rust may eat off the steel reinforcements when it becomes wet.
- Perform structural investigation and testing. Non-destructive testing (NDT) procedures that are cheap may be performed. This is to determine the current loading capacity of your foundations. The existing loading capacity will be utilized in the designing phase of your new custom homes. Through NDT procedures, you can also determine if the foundation can no longer be used. An example of non-destructive testing is Rebound Hammer Testing which is cheap. Homebuilders can include this in their scope of works. The strength of a typical concrete structure is 3000psi and upwards.
There are also NDT options that help you determine the current condition of the reinforcing bars in the foundation structure. A ferrous scanner is one of those.
You can actually get real-time results from NDT operators so that you can have your data right away.
YOU CAN ACTUALLY STRENGTHEN YOUR EXISTING FOUNDATION!
Over time, our foundations can actually age and weaken. Although it is not a huge concern for homeowners, especially homes constructed with the highest quality, you can opt to strengthen your existing foundations through engineering procedures.
One way is jacketing your foundations. This can be done by adding a reinforcement around your existing footing structures and welding them into the existing steel reinforcements. The high-strength concrete mixture will then be added to the existing ones using injection pumps or simply pouring them into the formworks.
Another way is to repair the tiny cracks of the existing foundation with a high-strength epoxy injection. But, you should choose to just build a new one for foundations with cracks in it rather than use the old foundation.
LET’S GET REAL FOR A SECOND!
It is vital to go over and around the basics and whatnots in your existing foundations to know what you are dealing with. Get in the ground and carefully investigate, inspect, and analyze the findings at hand to help you decide what to do. After all, we are talking about the security of your lives and your investment.
When in doubt, always call for professional help. Construction professionals such as engineers, building designers, and experts can offer you the best advice based on the facts that are at hand. Whether you want to use the existing foundations or build a new one, you can easily weigh your pros and cons. Then, with the assistance of construction professionals, you can put your options under careful scrutiny and arrive at the best decision.
There is no other good substitute for professional care. Do not hesitate to contact us! With our years of experience in the construction industry, our home building company can assure you that you are in safe hands.