Concrete construction and foundation services are an essential component of civil construction, and they encompass the range of functions associated with forming and installing structural concrete for foundations, sub-grade walls, footings and other building applications. These efforts require smart, safe approaches to structural excavation and backfill, concrete formwork design and installation according to spec, concrete reinforcement installation, and concrete placement and finishing.
It takes an experienced team dedicated to high standards in order to carry out the work of foundation construction in an effective, efficient and safe way. Given Merut Construction personnel’s years of expertise in applications such as foundations for equipment or drilled piers, soil stabilization, rebar installation, concrete finishing, E&S controls, site grading, drilling and excavation, we’re providing an inside look at how our foundation construction methods achieve top-quality workmanship, reliability, safety and mitigation of environmental impact.
Basic Overview of Foundation Types & Considerations
Foundations are fundamental to the integrity of any structure, serving to properly distribute the structure’s weight, prevent settlement issues and lateral movement, and fortify overall stability. Due to variances in soil types, bearing capacities and structure loads, different types of foundations are applied in specific construction scenarios. Generally speaking, they are broken down into two categories:
Shallow foundations, for which the width is greater than the depth, include spread footings, wall footings, combined footings, cantilever or strap footings and raft or mat foundations.
Deep foundations, for which the width is smaller than the depth, include pile foundations, pier foundations and caisson foundations.
For any type of foundation that relies on the properties of concrete to achieve a desired shape, structure and strength, it is paramount for the construction team to apply superior concrete formwork. Concrete foundation formwork controls the concrete’s position and alignment, and it must be expertly planned to properly bear the weight of materials, equipment and workers.
In addition, the installation of rebar is critical to reinforcing the concrete used for foundations. Rebar enables the concrete to perform better under tension or torsion, which makes it necessary for load-bearing structures like foundations.
Modern Excavation Approaches for Foundation Construction
Prior to the installation of new foundations, there is typically excavation work to be done. As one of the few non-destructive methods to safely dig around buried infrastructure, vacuum excavation has become a best practice in the initial stages of this process. The modern method employs high-powered suction machines to dig deep, precise underground holes, daylight below-surface utilities and remove associated debris. In combination with a high-pressure water source or air lance, vacuum excavation enables workers to dig safely, quickly and with the least amount of damage or disruption to buried infrastructure.
Vacuum excavation via water or air pressure is a monumentally safer approach, allowing construction teams like ours to locate dangerous infrastructure more accurately, thereby reducing the risk of explosions, fires and digging-related deaths and injuries. And because there are no moving parts making contact with underground utilities, workers can carry out digging projects without disrupting essential infrastructure or incurring the major expense of property damage. It also leaves a minimal impact on the environment and eliminates the need to employ tools that could destroy the surrounding ecology.
Once vacuum excavation is employed to uncover underground utilities or structures if there are any known in the area, there are additional methods suited for more extensive excavation work, such as using large excavators for drilling caisson foundations.
Foundation Construction with a Safety-First Mentality
Speaking of safety, it is of monumental importance to approach foundation construction with this factor at the highest level of priority. That’s why utilizing the expertise of a knowledgeable and experienced construction team committed to the health and safety of its workers is so essential. A major aspect of Merut Construction’s winning methods is the fact that we implement OSHA 30 and Operator Qualification training for field workers, and we are dedicated to meeting the most current levels of safety regulation and compliance.
This starts with calling 811, the federally designated call-before-you-dig phone number. Because each state has its own requirements and specifications for digging, it’s critical to contact 811 prior to starting any foundation construction project. By calling 811, utility companies will be notified and respond to the request for digging by marking the underground utilities with paint, flags, or stakes.
It also means:
- Performing potholing when necessary
- Opting for vacuum excavation methods where applicable
- Employing proper safety equipment for working with concrete, mortar, power equipment and cutting tools
- Wearing personal protective equipment, from safety shoes, long pants and sleeves, hard hats and safety gloves, to chemical resistant options and even hearing protection when necessary, and FR (flame resistant or retardant) clothing when required
- Obtaining excavation permits
- Leveraging protective systems such as benching and shoring to prevent collapse
- Performing daily inspections of the site to identify soil distress or other hazards
- Protecting against the hazards of exposed rebar
- Guarding openings and using fall protection
- Practicing tool safety and inspecting tools prior to use
The Foundation Construction Process in Action
To give a little more color to the concept of foundation construction, here’s a peek at how Merut Construction’s process unfolds on the job, with details from a real-life scenario:
As part of a substation upgrade project, Merut was contracted to complete the associated civil work alongside an electrical contractor for the demolition of an old existing transformer foundation and containment system, along with installing a new transformer foundation and new CI-Agent containment system liner.
The first stage of the project included demolishing the existing oil containment, 230/59Kv transformer, cables, connections, and associated taps. After the demo was completed, we excavated for the new foundation, completed the framing of the transformer foundation, tied rebar and poured the concrete. Next, the containment walls were built, the oil pit walls were installed and the oil pit containment system was installed. The final process included backfilling the containment with stone, removing the temporary pad and restoring or smoothing the spoils pile.
CI Agent secondary containment systems are popular in the electrical utility industry. The system allows for unimpeded flow of water during rainfall events but will become an impermeable layer in the event of oil loss. Secondary containment systems are used to keep spills from oil-filled equipment from entering the environment and are a key component of stormwater and Spill Prevention Control and Countermeasures (SPCC) plans.
From start to finish, our team relied on the safest, smartest and most ecologically sound solutions for demolition, excavation, framing and formwork, rebar installation, concrete pouring, building of walls and containment system, backfilling and restoration. Only highly knowledgeable, experienced and committed teams have the necessary skill and approach to manage foundation construction at such a high standard and in strict accordance with the specifications required for the job.