Excavation: How to Plan & Create a Solid Site Foundation

How to Plan Create a Solid Site Foundat

For any residential or commercial structure, the site’s foundation is, well, foundational.

The foundation will serve as the primary base, supporting the above-ground structures and distributing their weight and pressure evenly to ensure that the building settles properly. Therefore, that substructure must be stable, and remain that way regardless of time, stress, or other loading factors.

But how do you plan and create a solid site foundation?

The brunt of that activity will take place during the sitework and excavation processes.

Here’s what that entails.

What Is Sitework?

Before you can ever start erecting a building, you must first analyze and prepare the site—specifically the foundation—for construction.

Sitework is a term that encompasses all pre-construction activities, which are essential to the overall success of any project, seeing as they lay the groundwork for the rest of the build. The more stable the ground, the more likely the building will remain standing without experiencing long-term structural issues.

Typically, engineers and contractors work together to carefully plan and then execute the sitework phase. Their goal? To ensure that the foundation is as solid and stable as possible, thus providing a secure base to build upon.

But what does this entail?

#1 Site Analysis and Planning

Before you can begin excavation, experts must analyze the site and gauge the specific elements that might impact the foundation’s safety and stability. To prepare for excavation, they may evaluate various factors including:

  • Slope and topography of the site

  • Soil conditions and composition

  • Environmental or legal issues

After this analysis has been completed, the structural designer can begin the foundation layout drawing for excavation, which will then be reviewed and approved by the architect. This may cover the type of foundation; the length, depth, width, and border of excavation; and the methods and equipment that will be used to remove the soil.

#2 Site Clearance

Once the plans have been approved, the construction team will need to clear the site of vegetation, debris, or previous structures. Doing so provides several tangible benefits to the overall build, including:

  • Lays a firm foundation for impending excavation and construction

  • Ensures that the site is safe for workers and equipment

  • Provides contractors and engineers with deeper understanding of the land’s boundaries, elements, slope, and layout.

  • Makes the site easier to access, which improves the excavation process

  • Helps minimize the impact of construction on the surrounding area

#3 Excavation

The first two steps above help prepare the site for excavation. Although the specific workflows will vary depending on the project, common elements of excavation include:

  • Ground tracing – Workers need to know exactly where they will be performing excavation. To that end, the team will “set out” pegs and strings to outline the excavation plot, mark the center lines, and denote the level of depth.

  • Soil excavation – Typically, the excavation process itself is accomplished with the assistance of heavy equipment. This machinery is specially designed to quickly and efficiently remove the earth from the designated area. In most cases, the excess soil is either moved to another onsite location where it can be re-used at a later point or taken off-site for disposal. Depending on the depth and quality of the soil, the excavation trench may need to be structurally reinforced.

  • Backfilling and compaction – Once excavation is finished, the team will then backfill the site with soil, then compact that earth to provide a solid foundation that’s less likely to settle, sink, or shift.

  • Pouring the foundation – At this stage, the site should be ready for the foundation stage. Here, the team will either pour concrete or lay foundation blocks to form solid ground. Also, depending on the site factors, they may install other stabilizing elements like footings or pilings.

  • Foundation inspection – After 3 to 14 days, the concrete foundation will be fully cured. At that point, experts will conduct a final inspection to ensure that the work was carried out properly, the foundations are, indeed, stable, and the site is ready for the next phases of construction.

Building on Firm Foundations with MFS Construction

Preparing a building’s foundations is every bit as important as the structural build itself. If you fail to properly plan and then lay firm foundations, the structure likely won’t stand for long.

If you want your investment to last, that starts at the ground level with sitework. By diligently planning and executing the excavation process, you can ensure that your structure is built on solid ground.

Do you have an excavation project in mind?

The team at MFS Construction can guide that process from beginning to end for even the most challenging of projects.

We’re not afraid of a challenge. So, reach out today to tell us about your next build.