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RESIDENTIAL UNDERPINNING AND LOWERING OF BASEMENT?
Underpinning has two main functions in home design: It is a method of repairing or strengthening the foundations of a building, and it is used to lower basements when attempting to make them into livable spaces. Before construction begins, the foundation is divided into many segments which are grouped into sections. This is done because if the entire foundation was excavated at once, the home would sink into the ground. So, the soil is excavated from underneath the existing building foundation, and replaced with a new foundation material (usually concrete) in order of these sections. This process increases the overall depth by adding a new foundation under the old one.
Occasionally, an additional process is added, referred to as Benching. Benching is the process of implementing extra foundation supports (called benches) during the stage when the soil is replaced with new foundation material. Bench Underpinning is used when a common wall is shared between homes (for example, in the case of "townhouses") and the neighbour does not agree to common-wall renovations. It is also used when a nearby neighbouring home does not share a common wall but is close enough that it's pressure on the soil would affect the underpinned foundation. This is known as being in the "zone of angle of repose."
The process of undermining a home in this fashion has risks which need to be mitigated to ensure the safety of the structure. This is done though strict design methods and safety procedures that must be adhered to. The structural engineer's guidance should always be followed to avoid excessive undermining that could cause damage to the existing structure. Generally, it is important to keep the foundation segments short. But each underpinning project will be different and the timing of each stage, along with the materials used, will be dependent upon the design of the structural engineer. To ensure further safety, this work is generally subject to thorough inspection by the engineer and the building control body.
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