What is the strongest foundation for a house?

Restumping Guide from Older Homes

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Whether you are looking to purchase an older established property or build a new home, there are several factors to consider. Building or renovating a home in some areas may not be as straight forward as first glance suggests.

Initial Ground Factors to consider

Dependant on the areas you are intending to build, renovate or extend, several factors may come into play, such as soil condition. 

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Soil condition entails the moisture levels, soil type and how it compacts at multi levels, rather than just the initial level. If it is loose and very flexible, you may need to consider something more inflexible than the options for loose a soft ground. Grounding such as soil tend to move with weather and other conditions, so more flexibility is required to discourage cracking and sinking. 

Investigate the full terrain of your proposed land. If there are topography challenges such as water tables, previous instances of flooding. Some local governments may have access to old mining maps and flood zones, which may assist you in assessing the history of your land.

These matters may alter the pricing of your home build; therefore, it is important to ensure you have thoroughly investigated prior to building to discourage unexpected expenses and possible building issues. A soil conduction test is carried out by a trained professional extracting a soil sample with the use of specialty drilling equipment. 

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This will tell you how much weight the soil can take and the probability of it shifting. If it is discovered that your soil is unsteady, you may be required to make precautions such as deeper stumping or a different style of base to prevent buckling or sinking.  

You may consider obtaining a Geotechnical investigation which explores the condition of the soil and places them into classes. It will inform you of how ‘reactive ‘the soil in your potential building location may be. The term ‘reactive ‘may be a bit misleading.

Some may consider it denotes the area or soil being radioactive, when it merely states how the soil responds to the changes in moisture content.  Different soils behave differently, some with a larger prospective to alter than other areas and are broken down into different classes. 

Class A may be the most desired outcome, as it is considered non-reactive, with the movement of soil being very unlikely. This is often the case in areas with high levels of sand and rock.

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Class S identifies a small amount of movement and is most likely found in clay areas.

Class M signifies a moderate amount of ground movement and is more probable in silt or clay sites.

 Class H is divided into two groups, being H1 and H2. This means the likelihood of ground movement is very high and is likely to be a clay site.

Class E as the initial suggests means an extreme chance of the ground shifting, whilst Class P indicates the location is a large problem and the change may be critical. 

Preventing potential foundation movements on a new build. 

It might not be an ideal situation to build a home or conduct renovations in an area where the probability of house movement is high, but there are a few steps you may elect to undertake to prevent it from occurring or at least giving it ammunition to become worse.

Keep trees and garden beds away from the house and fences. 

When installing walking paths or paving’s, as well as building garden beds, do your best to have them slope away from the building as this decreases the likelihood of moisture being drawn towards the home.

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Install and maintain adequate drainage.

Repair broken or missing taps, hoses, water tanks, air conditioners and hot water systems as soon as the issues arise. 

When building, don’t excavate near your footings or if you really need to, be certain to avoid digging than the base of your footings.

What if there is damage in your existing home?

You may start to notice concerns in your home, which may indicate the need for treatment, such as restumping.

These factors may include, windows and doors becoming stuck or not closing completely, pools of water/moisture around the foundation of your property.

Other indicators might be that your floors are not even, or they are sloping.

Another suggestion of probable concerns might be cracks in the brickwork outside your home and big cracks in the internal walls. 

Restumping can only be implemented on a home with house stumps. As the name suggests, it means replacing the stumps supporting the house. It is vital to get your home assessed by a trained professional to verify the condition of the property and stumps, so you can adequately assess the next step.

This will ensure that all investigations are carried out in detail, and any probable circumstance is brought to your attention in a timely manner. 

Some may feel that only a partial restump is required as damage is only visible to a few stumps. This is not always the case as some damage may not be visible to the naked eye and could be deteriorating underground. 

Although the cost of restumping  a home can be dear, at an estimated $,10,000 – $30,000 according to Canstar, the cost of rectifying a home which has totally collapsed is significantly higher and the safety of home and building occupants is beyond measure.

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How is a house restumped?

Basically, the supporting beams or stumps underneath the home are replaced. In times gone by, wooden supports were used. In today’s times, it is more likely concrete or steel supports will be used due to longevity reasons.

If your lovely abode does need restumping, it will be carefully elevated to the necessary height to allow for the process to be completed. 

It should be noted that, although this process may extinguish the likely hood of the home collapsing, or hinder further damage, with any movement carries the risk in cracks to walls, tiles, doorframes etc.

Author: Therese Vickers


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