For any building – residential, commercial or industrial – the foundation is the entire structure base. Without a well-constructed foundation, buildings can be prone to whole structural problems. Likewise, a quality foundation can help protect buildings from many unforeseen issues, such as settling, shifting over time, seismic action, and much more.
The professionals who work to build foundations generally work for foundation construction services companies or foundation piling services companies, or some variation thereof. In this article, we’ll discuss the differences between these two types of companies, the typical options for foundation construction that they employ, and various techniques for foundation construction that are used, and provide some information on how to choose the right foundation construction services or foundation piling services companies for your needs.
Most of this article is written from the standpoint of general contracting services, and not necessarily for a homeowner or residential facilities. Often, new construction of foundations for homes is managed through a developer or land manager, and not subject to homeowner or consumer input or choice. However, for residential consumers who need new foundation construction services, as well as those commercial and industrial clients who have an input on the matter. The information in this article should help provide clarity on what foundation construction services and foundation piling services do, how they do it, and how to choose the best company for your project.
First, about the differences between foundation construction services and foundation piling services. Foundation construction services are the general or overall services that build foundations for buildings and other fixtures. Foundation piling services offer a very specialized type of foundation construction component, where piles (girders, pipes, or other materials) driven into the ground, either through vibration or traditional impact pile-driving techniques. It could be said that foundation piling services make up one aspect of foundation construction services. However, there are separate, specialized companies.
In general, whether a foundation construction services company can perform the tasks of a foundation piling services company, or merely contract out those responsibilities, is something that can be researched and ascertained before the commencement of a foundation construction project. However, it is reasonably immaterial in the long run – whether they perform the pile services themselves or have a designated contractor to do it, the important thing is it gets done and done well for projects that need foundation piles. And many foundation construction projects don’t require piling services at all.
Many factors will often dictate the type of foundation for a given project. Those factors include the overall soil and subsurface makeup of a site, the local construction code, the footprint, height, load, and other elements of the building to be built atop the foundation, the stability of the land, the seismicity of the area, and much more.
That means that foundation construction services and foundation piling services often don’t have options to provide the project manager or consumer, but instead need to be able to execute the appropriate foundation type of the site based on all these factors. The overall goal, of course, is to provide the ideal foundation type for the site and building, without being more robust (and therefore higher in cost) than necessary. That is particularly important to understand, as incredibly elaborate and expensive foundations are undoubtedly available, with seismic damping and flexibility, double or triple reinforced connections, and much more, but these are unnecessary expenditures for most of foundation construction projects.
The most typical types of foundations that foundation construction service companies use today are slab foundations, concrete piles, combination walls, steel tubes or corrugated wall piles, and similar. Within those categories, there are many variants and types for different sub-surface conditions, building sizes and heights, and other factors. The overall goal of the foundation constructions is to provide reliable, stable bases for the buildings above them, with sub-surface anchoring to prevent or negate settling, seismic movement, soil and bedrock changes below the site, and to help distribute building load, wind shear, and other forces.
Despite the myriad of foundation options or variants that might be required based on site-specific conditions, the overall foundation construction techniques turn out to be quite a few. In fact, foundation construction services companies and foundation piling services companies generally use only a few basic methods or principles in building foundations.
The first kind of foundation construction technique involves utilizing existing soil, rubble, or other filler material under the predetermined foundation location. This material is packed and compressed as much as possible, usually with earth moving equipment, and then a slab foundation is poured over the surface. Foundation construction services typically use this method for residential, commercial slab foundation constructions, though the usefulness is limited based on all the factors discussed in the previous section, and only specific geographies and building types suited to this basic foundation construction technique.
More often, for more significant commercial and industrial buildings some piling system in their foundation construction is usually used. Foundation piling services drive reinforcing elements into the ground, often many meters deep, to help keep the foundation and walls of a building level, stable, and resilient in the face of settling and ground movement. In times gone by, wood was often used for piling but has mostly been replaced by steel or metal variants, since wood tends to rot far faster than steel rusts or decays underground. Once foundation piles are driven and capped (either via pedestals or foundation walls), then the foundation can be poured around them, and the walls constructed. That is a simplified view of the foundation construction process, which has many more intricate steps, that can also vary based on all the factors discussed in the previous section.
The piles used in foundation piling services work help to distribute the building load and counter any natural forces from eroding or expanding soil, seismic activity, or settling. Piles become anchors against horizontal and to a lesser extent vertical forces, that would otherwise move (and thus likely crack or permanently damage) the foundation and walls of a building.
For larger, skyscraper-style construction, there are even more specialized types of foundation construction services, though the overall principles are the same – often steel girders are used as piles upon which the foundation and skeleton of the structure built.
When you need a foundation construction services company or a foundation piling services company, or both, for a foundation construction job, you want to make sure you choose the right company to fit your needs. While some overall foundation construction outfits may employ these foundation construction companies as contractors, others may need to hire them outright for some tasks. Primary factors to consider when trying to choose the right company include:
In conclusion, foundation construction services and foundation piling services companies perform a critical role in the building of all residential, commercial, and industrial buildings. Through the various foundation construction techniques and materials, they use and working in coordination with architects, planners, geologists, the site itself, construction codes, and other factors, foundation construction, piling service experts identify the appropriate type of foundation for a building project and implement that solution. The building is only as stable as the foundation under it, and the skilled pros from foundation construction services and foundation piling services companies are constructing those foundations for us to live, work, and play.