How to Prevent Soil Compaction on Your Plot

How to Prevent Soil Compaction on Your Plot

Summary:

– Context of compaction

– Compaction events

– Sources of compaction

– Preventing compaction to avoid possible disorders

Compaction is the deformation of the ground under the action of the weight of the structures it supports. Buildings behave differently depending on their structure and foundations in relation to the ground: this is known as “uniform compaction” and “differential compaction”.

Context of compaction

A building rests on the ground and transmits a set of loads to it. The foundations play a role in the good distribution of these load constraints. These foundations are adapted both to the nature of the soil and to the structure of the building.

In general, under the action of the building loads, the compaction of the ground remains uniform and of small amplitude: the construction, endowed with a good rigidity, does not suffer any damage.

When the compaction is heterogeneous (differential), with differences in level between different foundation points, disorders may occur. For a very rigid structure, the failure of one support simply results in the transfer to neighbouring supports: no damage is suffered as long as the compaction remains of low amplitude.

For a flexible structure that adapts to the movements of the foundations, disorders may appear at the level of the elements of the finishing work: uncoupling joints must be provided to prevent them.

Compaction can therefore be allowed as long as the building structure or its components can absorb it. There are orders of magnitude of the permissible compactions given by specialists in soil mechanics or residential developers. They recommend values for different construction elements for total or differential compaction:

– 5 mm to 1 cm for the differential compaction of a large brick wall;

– 3 to 6 mm for a conventional residential building between two points 10 metres apart;

– 5 to 10 cm for the total compaction of a beam and a differential compaction of 2.5 to 4 cm;

– 2 to 5 cm for the total compaction of a masonry wall;

– 8 to 30 cm for the total compaction of an invert.

Manifestations of compaction

Disorders related to uncontrolled differential compactions are manifested in the form of cracks:

– at 45° from the angle of an opening or a lintel for a fragile structure;

– by blocks at the joints for rigid structures such as concrete walls;

– in stairs for structures made of small masonry elements such as block walls;

– diagonally (shear cracks) for differential compaction of a gable in relation to the rest of the building;

– horizontal in the case of differential compaction of the gable by tension or swelling;

– stepped by compaction or swelling at the corner or centre of the building;

– in a paving connected to the foundations.

Compaction disorders can also be manifested by outcropping of prefabricated facade panels.

Note: Compaction disorders also occur on ancillary structures: at the level of networks such as sewage or rainwater drains cut off at the compaction level, at the level of the manholes of these networks, which subside due to compaction and cause fractures in the pipes, and at the level of peripheral structures, such as a terrace or embankment around the construction causing subsidence and cracks.

Sources of compaction

The sources of compaction can be of different kinds:

– a variable bedding level for the same building, such as a house with only a partial basement;

– a heterogeneous type of subgrade: one side on agile soil and another side on limestone or presence of hard spots (rocks) and soft spots (compressible such as uncompacted fill);

– variation in the moisture content of the bedrock, such as clayey soil that shrinks in times of drought and swells when the rains return;

– Unusual water infiltration and accumulation due to weathering or drilling of a pipe;

– the proximity of roots, the presence of an underground source, the topographical configuration (unevenness, steep slope);

– unstable soil consisting of fill, such as a former rubble deposit, the filling of a former underpass or quarry;

– the presence underground of natural voids and mining subsidence;

– work in the surrounding area, such as excavation for the foundations of a new building adjoining or located nearby;

– vibrations caused by nearby work (such as pile driving) or the passage of heavy machinery in the vicinity;

– the weight of new construction loads on adjacent land;

– the deterioration of concrete or steel embedded in concrete due to the aggressiveness of the environment;

– design and execution errors due to an under-evaluation of the efforts or to not taking into account the soil study: this case is encountered especially in the case of deep foundations.

Prevention of compactions in order to avoid possible disorders

Soil investigation (geotechnics) and foundations are closely linked and are the essential basis for preventing compaction. Soil investigation and the study of the structure of the building to be constructed make it possible to assess the pressures exerted (load diffusion bulb) and to determine the shape of the foundations accordingly.

Adaptation of the foundations

In a building, the foundations ensure the transfer of forces: vertical compression, the building’s own weight, overloads, and they respond to the reaction forces of the ground (its bearing capacity).

The type and dimensions of the foundations are thus determined. They imply knowledge of the nature of the soil: a soil study (geotechnical) is therefore strongly recommended. Ignorance of the geotechnical properties of the soil can lead to the construction of foundations that are not deep enough, or that are built on unstable fill or on heterogeneous soils of different bearing capacity.

Foundations take various forms depending on the geotechnical study: superficial when the hard ground is close to the surface, deep when the resistant layer of foundation is at a great depth, special to meet particular criteria such as in marshes.

Good to know: Depending on the region of construction, earthquake-resistant building regulations must also be complied with.

Points to watch out for

The depth of the hard ground for the foundations should be determined, the cleanliness of the excavation bottoms should be checked to ensure that the footings are properly poured on the hard ground (clean soil and fill falling to the bottom) and the pouring of the foundations should be postponed in the event of heavy rain (stagnation of water at the bottom of the excavation).

It is also necessary to highlight the heterogeneities of a soil requiring specific adaptations (such as the construction of a foundation in wells and longlines to pass an area of unstable embankments).

Good to know: when you build on a subdivision, a soil study linked to the development permit for this subdivision is available and can provide you with information.

Expansion and Compaction Joints

As soon as the masonry walls reach large surfaces, it is necessary to intersect them with joints that respond to the expansion or shrinkage of the materials, to the difference in load brought by the construction on the foundations, to the presence of heterogeneous ground and therefore different foundations, to the antiseismic protection (antiseismic rules).

The spacing between the joints is determined according to several criteria.

The first is the location of the building: in dry regions on shores, the joints must be provided every 20 metres, whereas in temperate wet regions, it is every 35 metres in the case of load-bearing masonry.

Then come the general design of the building, the nature of the masonry materials, the function of the masonry (load-bearing or not) and the role of the joint.

Good to know: the joint must be regular over the entire height (without contact points) and at most 2 cm wide. On the facade, it must be protected against infiltration by a watertight bead and a joint cover. On the inside wall, the joint can be made with a flexible product with good fire resistance.


5 Most Essential Renovation Tips in 2020

Summary

1. Refresh a room
2. Renovating a room
3. Renovating a home
4. Renovation: some general advice
5. Price of a renovation


A renovation consists of working on an existing property to bring it up to the standards of comfort and aesthetics sought by the buyer. Many different renovations are possible from the same premises. When it affects the main structure, the costs involved must be carefully considered. There are different types of renovations, which are more or less heavy.

1. Refreshing a room

It’s the cheapest renovation. Sometimes it can be enough.

Make an informed choice

You may wish to change the wall and floor coverings in a room to give it a facelift. Changing a wallpaper, a carpet can really bring pleasure to a room that used to be a bit out of breath. In this case, you will simply have to choose the flooring that suits your budget and your desires.

The implementation

First, find the colours that match the function of the room. Then see how you can coordinate the new colours with the colours of the parts you may be leaving in place.

If this is to your liking and you do the work yourself, choose flexible floors that are easy to lay and in widths that avoid cutting out as much as possible.

If you have irregularities on the walls, opt for a matt covering, which will provide better coverage.

2. Renovating a room


It is a real renovation that can affect different parts of the building.

Make an informed choice
Tearing down a partition, enlarging a window are works that restore habitability to a volume that is perhaps no longer adapted to current tastes or to the function of this place. Masonry, electricity and decoration are to be expected.

Don’t underestimate the different items, each one will contribute to your final feeling of comfort.

The implementation

You can let your imagination run wild, within your budget.

Take the opportunity to think of equipment that would make your life more enjoyable. A second shower area will avoid morning traffic jams. Creating a master suite will give you more privacy. Opening a partition to create a library or TV area will clear the living room and give you more living space.

If you’re planning partitioning or masonry work, think about the connections you’ll need to make. A partition comes down easily, but do you have enough space to add the same tiles as the existing one where the partition was?

Renovating a room needs to be thought through in detail. The budget is never neutral and the comfort level must be in line with your investment.

3. Renovating a home

It’s a heavy and long operation. It’s impossible to get started without taking a few precautions.

Make an informed choice

The house is no longer adapted to the growing family, you have bought an old house for which you had a crush but its layout is far from your lifestyle. Big works in perspective. Depending on the rooms, different trades will intervene.

If you have to live in the house during this time, be sure that your choice is compatible with the inconveniences caused by your decision. Dust, noise, private space invaded by workers will be your daily lot.

Implementation

A complete renovation project is heavy, you must be prepared for it. A complete renovation must be managed like new construction, although it is different, as far as the overall organisation is concerned.

First of all, go to the town hall to find out about the necessary authorisations, especially if you are changing the external appearance of the house.

Then, either you go through an architect or a project manager, or you coordinate the work yourself.

Before making up your mind, ask for an initial estimate of the cost of the work. Use the quotes you receive to make a more accurate estimate. Talk to competent and recognized professionals. Don’t think that a renovation is easier than new construction. It often requires more know-how and experience to find the right solutions, which are not standard.

Once the work has begun, follow your construction site closely. Take delivery of the work and do not sign if the work does not correspond to the estimate.

4. Renovation: some general advice

090701-N-9689V-004 APIA, Samoa (July 1, 2009) Seabees assigned to Amphibious Construction Battalion (ACB) 1 and Naval Mobile Construction Battalion (NMCB) 1 renovate a building at Apia National Hospital during a Pacific Partnership 2009 engineering civic action project. Apia National Hospital is the primary medical facility for the residents of Upolu Island, Samoa. The Seabees will spend 10 days renovating the hospitalÕs waiting area, conducting roof repairs, and applying non-skid surface to slippery walkways. Pacific Partnership is a humanitarian and civil assistance mission in the Pacific Fleet area of responsibility. This year Pacific Partnership will travel to Oceania, including Kiribati, Republic of the Marshall Islands, Samoa, Solomon Islands and Tonga. The Military Sealift Command dry cargo/ammunition ship USNS Richard E. Byrd (T-AKE 4) serves as the enabling platform for Pacific Partnership. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Joshua Valcarcel/Released)

These tips will be useful to you whatever your project.

Doing with the existing

First of all, you know the old saying, “you can’t make something new out of something old”. Renovation must be considered with the best possible respect for the existing distribution of rooms and load-bearing walls. If you want to redo everything to make it “as good as new”, you will expose yourself to work costs that may be prohibitive.

If the building is to be completely renovated, the cost of the work may be equal to or even higher than the price of equivalent new construction.

Expect the unexpected

When renovating, you must also be aware that what you are going to renovate… is not what you want to renovate. You are always going to come across things that you didn’t plan for when you renovate: cables or pipes coming from the old layout that you will have to divert, wall reinforcement that you will have to leave in place, siding that you want to remove and that was in fact hiding an unsightly structure and that will now show through, etc.

Always remember that a renovation is not new construction. Starting from the existing requires adapting to reality.

Also, be aware of the disturbances in the neighbourhood caused by your building site. Stop by to see your neighbours, explain your project to them quickly and tell them the schedule for your project. You do not know their reactions, it is better to reassure them.

Respect the regulations

The Construction and Housing Code, like the Urban Planning Code, is constantly evolving.

Tip: check with your local town hall and Unique Custom Homes to find out about the rules relating to the renovation of existing buildings.

For example, acoustic insulation has become compulsory in areas that are particularly exposed to noise during major renovation work. According to the Building and Housing Code, this is the case in particular when such work includes:

– the replacement or creation of glass walls or doors to the exterior of main rooms in residential buildings;

– the repair of a roof opening directly onto the main rooms of residential buildings;

– or relating to the thermal insulation of opaque walls opening to the outside.

Evaluate the bill

First, put it all down on paper. Make a global plan and small plans piece by piece. Surface area, desired equipment, colours should be included.

List all the estimates, add up all the costs. Look also at the purchase price of the property plus the amount of work to be done, which should give a potential selling price that is within the market price range. No one knows what the future is made of.

Think insulation and renewable energy sources, you can kill two birds with one stone and reduce your energy bill. Also think about the various tax credits and other tax reductions.

If you haven’t bought yet, compare with new home prices, you might be surprised by the high cost of some renovation projects.

Get organised if you live on site

Try to draw up a schedule according to your daily needs, in order to see if the comfort that will be generated by the renovation justifies all the inconveniences to which you will be subjected.

If you only have one shower, for example, wait until you have all the necessary equipment at your disposal before starting work on it. The new shower will then be available quickly. Otherwise, the work can take a long time. And put your (and your family’s) nerves to the test.

5. Price of a renovation

This price depends of course on the complexity of the renovation, the size of the building, its accessibility and your choice of materials and decoration. For 1 m² of floor space, count, made by a professional:

– from $50 to $150 before tax for a refreshment;

– from $200 to $400 excluding taxes for a light renovation;

– from $500 to $1,000 excluding taxes for a heavy renovation. Even more for a total rehabilitation of the building.

Note: the price above is simply indicative and may not reflect the actual price. Talk with your contractor and remember to share your experience in the comment section below.


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