The Need Beneath: Key Reasons for Underpinning Projects
Mitigating Subsidence Damage
Clay-based soils are notorious for shifting readily with changes in soil moisture and seasonal movements. Even tree roots can desiccate soil and instigate subsidence. Unfortunately, this soil heaving and dropping places incredible strain on foundations. Cracks appear in walls and slabs sink. Over time, doors and windows become misaligned and water infiltration worsens. The structural integrity grows questionable.
Supporting Lateral Additions & Renovations
Owners wishing to build lateral additions next to or above existing structures often require localized underpinning beforehand. The process fortifies the original footings and foundation to handle the load increases from new construction. For example, turning an existing bungalow into a 2-story home with expanded basement puts much greater weight demands onto the existing house segment.
Earthquake and Storm Resistance
In earthquake zones or regions prone to hurricanes and flooding, preventative underpinning bolsters building stability and resilience. Like building new skyscrapers on giant shock absorbers, state-of-the-art underpinning buffers forces below ground. The enhanced foundation stays firmly anchored even when the earth shakes or subterranean soils liquefy.
Adjusting for New Mechanical Systems
Modern essential mechanical systems embedded into buildings can add tremendous point loads exceeding original designs. As examples: heating and cooling equipment like heavy HVAC units; multistory elevators and dumbwaiters; back-up electrical generators – underpinning allows the insertion or upgrading of concrete footings, pilings and steel beams to accommodate these heavy mechanical elements without overtaxing the existing substructure.
Breathing New Life into Aging Structures
Some older building foundations unfortunately were not constructed to modern seismic expectations or weight allowances. Over decades, settlement, cracking and deterioration can appear as materials weaken and the soil naturally compacts. The need for leveling and restoration becomes undeniable despite good maintenance. In dire cases, the original foundation teeters on failure.