Laying Your New Home's Foundation: How To Avoid Disastrous Structural Mistakes

Pouring the foundation is a huge step in just about any construction project. Without a solid, level foundation, nothing else can be built. Before you unload the concrete pump truck onto your chosen plot, use these tips to prevent risky mistakes. 

Stick To The Plan

When you first decided to start building your own home, you had plans drawn up and approved by your local municipal government. Even if you didn't include exact measurements on the plans themselves, your city's planning agency will still expect you to build exactly what you told them you would -- no more, no less.During the laying of the foundation, you might be tempted to add more to your home than you initially planned, making the foundation larger or deeper or including additional buildings.

Unfortunately, if your spontaneity gets the better of you and you build without permission from your city officials, you could end up in some serious trouble. Digging in unapproved areas might result in hitting a utility wire or pipe and damaging it. Workers can be injured by this, and you'll have to pay the city whatever it costs to fix the problem. You'll also face serious delays to your project while you wait for reapproval for the new plans.

Even if nothing goes wrong with your additions at the time of digging, you still need a government inspection to make sure your new home is up to code. When the inspector comes, you could have to pay a fine for significant deviations from the approved plans. In serious cases, you'd have to tear parts of your house back down to comply with local property lines. 

If something unexpected happens and you need to change the plans for your home, make sure you contact the city planner and get the changes approved. It will delay work somewhat, but it will also protect you from costly mistakes.

Get Your Soil Inspected

Soil needs to have a certain consistency and stability in order to support a home's foundation. If the ground is too wet and soft, the foundation may crack into pieces or sink down on one side, causing your home to sag and eventually collapse. Before you begin pouring the concrete, have soil samples examined by an expert to confirm that the location is safe.

If your soil is too wet or is otherwise unsuitable, you may need to dig deeper to place a stronger foundation for your home. Alternately, if the property is large enough for you to move the site, you can have the soil in other parts of the land tested for viability. 

Listen To Your Engineer

For the sake of your future home, it's a good idea to keep a structural engineer on hand while you plan and pour the foundation. Make sure any questions you have are directed to this engineer. Other construction workers, family members, or friends may try to give you advice on how to pour your foundation, but it's vital that your engineer's word always be considered the most important.

The reason for this is legal liability. If you follow the advice of a friend or family member and your home's foundation is flawed, you won't have any way to make back all of the money you wasted building it. On the other hand, your structural engineer's contract will include a clause about reimbursing you for foundation problems and other structural mistakes made at the engineer's recommendation. In a worst-case scenario, you can at least recover the value of your home from an engineer who made a mistake.

If you use these tips during the initial phase of your home's construction, you'll hopefully be able to avoid common problems. With a rock solid foundation laid, you'll be able to start working on your perfect home in earnest.