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In construction, underpinning is the process of strengthening and stabilizing the foundation of an existing building or other structure. Underpinning may be necessary for a variety of reasons:

  • The original foundation is simply not strong or stable enough.
  • The usage of the structure has changed.
  • The properties of the soil supporting the foundation may have changed (possibly through subsidence) or were mischaracterized during planning.
  • The construction of nearby structures necessitates the excavation of soil supporting existing foundations.
  • It is more economical, due to land price or otherwise, to work on the present structure's foundation than to build a new one.

Underpinning is accomplished by extending the foundation in depth or in breadth so it either rests on more supportive soil stratum or distributes its load across a greater area. Use of micropiles [1] and jet grouting are common methods in underpinning. An alternative to underpinning is the weakening of the soil by the introduction of a grout. All of these processes are generally expensive and elaborate.

Underpinning may be necessary where P class (problem) soils in certain areas of the site are encountered.

Through semantic change the word underpinning has become to encompass all abstract concepts that serve as a foundation.

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Simple English

In construction, underpinning is the process of strengthening and stabilizing the foundation of an existing building or other structure. Underpinning may be needed for a many of reasons:

  • The original foundation is not strong or stable enough.
  • The usage of the building has changed.
  • The type of soil supporting the foundation may have changed (possibly through subsidence) or were misjudged during planning.
  • The construction of nearby structures causes the excavation of soil supporting existing foundations.
  • It is more economical, due to land price or otherwise, to work on the current structure's foundation than to build a new one.


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