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- The Excavation and the Foundation
The Excavation and the Foundation
- Photo: Flickr
Once you have a hole in the ground, the foundation can be built. The first step is the footing, usually a base of cement wider than the wall to be constructed on it that will distribute the weight over a larger area to prevent settling. (For a house built on piers, foundation pads for the supporting posts to rest upon are necessary.)
The walls come next (after the concrete sets, which takes an average of three to five days). The wall may be of cement block or of concrete poured into a wooden form that is removed after the concrete has set. Setting up the forms for a poured foundation will take a portion of a day; the forms will be stripped two or three days later. Stone foundations are almost unheard of these days, though for aesthetic reasons some concrete foundations are built with a small shelf set into the portion of the foundation that will be above grade (i.e., not buried) onto which a veneer of brick or stone can be laid to hide the less attractive concrete.
After the concrete forms have been removed, perforated piping (called drain tile) is laid outside the wall at its base in damp climates. These pipes will be pitched to allow the water that enters them to drain off and away from the foundation.
The earthmoving equipment will then return and backfill around the cellar hole. The soil on the surface must be graded so that when there is rain the water will naturally flow away from the house rather than into its foundation. Done by a bulldozer or other earthmoving machinery, this work is called cutting and filling, as the blade of the 'dozer serves to cut off the tops of the high spots and fill in the low ones. If you are planning on landscaping work later, now is the time to give the yard at least an approximate shape while the heavy equipment is there filling in around the cellar hole.
The foundation won't be completed in day; a week or two to complete the various steps is usual. But once your foundation is ready, the carpenters can begin their work.
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