Underpinning: What It Means for Your Home and Its Foundations

The term ‘underpinning’ refers to a specific type of foundation repair or expansion. It is a common construction technique in Chelmsford, particularly in cases where a building has started to subside due to movement within the soil. Although, it can also be used to increase the depth of foundations, either for extra stability or a bigger load bearing capacity.

These are the most likely reasons for underpinning to be recommended for Chelmsford properties, though it’s worth remembering that every home is different. If you suspect that yours might need it, the best action is to consult with a land surveyor. They will be able to inspect the condition of the structure and advise you as to whether alterations are required.

This guide to structural underpinning will explain how it works, why it is a valuable process, and what it usually involves.

The Best Solution for Settling

In most cases, underpinning is employed as a heavy duty solution to a structural problem. It is often the fastest way to provide support when the walls of a building have cracked and warped due to sinking foundations. This can occur for all manner of reasons.

The reality is that soil can be unstable. It is very difficult to tell for certain whether a piece of land is completely even and liable to stay that way. After all, many environmental conditions have an impact on soil stability. It is important to provide a fast response if things do change.

Underpinning works by carefully moving the weight of the building away from the unstable soil and onto firmer, stronger bedrock. First, an underpinned galvanised steel framework is pushed deep into the ground. Then, the home or other building is shifted onto this new foundation.

Spotting the Signs of Instability

The best way to know for sure if there is any structural instability within your foundations is to conduct a professional property survey. There are a number of structural surveyors in Chelmsford, and they are very skilled at picking up signs of warping and subsidence.

The problem with relying on your own judgement is that, often, subsidence is quite advanced by the time you’re able to notice it in the walls and ceilings. One common symptom, for example, is doors and windows frames which have become prone to sticking.

When foundations are insecure and start to move around, the walls shift too, and this leads to misaligned frames and fixtures. Another clear indication that something may be amiss is long, spidery cracks across interior walls. If you spot these, consult a surveyor for advice.

Finding a Quick and Easy Fix

Underpinning is a fairly intensive process. However, it can progress quickly as long as the soil requirements are simple and uncomplicated. If you suspect that there are subsidence issues on your land, the next step is to find out for sure by paying for a structural assessment.

This will tell you exactly what the problem is and, most importantly, whether underpinning will be needed to strengthen the existing foundations. With the support of a good contractor, you should be able to create a much firmer, more durable home within a matter of weeks.

It is a good idea to ask for both an estimated timeframe and a project quote. They are free to change, particularly if weather conditions prolong the job, but any new developments must be approved by you. Ask questions, be present on site, and keep yourself in the loop.

To learn more foundation underpinning and why it is important for some buildings, click here to visit Dixon Piling today. Or, call 01621 815169 to speak to the Chelmsford team and arrange a consultation.