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What you should know before digging a house foundation

By Admin

Added 20th February 2020 06:55 PM

Many of these can make or break the job if proper attention is not paid. Some of them are obvious, but we are happy to remind you anyway.

What you should know before digging a house foundation

Have an architect draw you a houseplan before you start digging the foundation of your dream house

Many of these can make or break the job if proper attention is not paid. Some of them are obvious, but we are happy to remind you anyway.


By Abdu-Wahab Nyanzi

Before you start digging your foundation, make sure you have paid attention to these critical areas.

Many of these can make or break the job if proper attention is not paid. Some of them are obvious, but we are happy to remind you anyway.

At this level, it is assumed that your drawings/plans are ready and you have the appropriate approvals from the authorities. It is also assumed that you have the money to start the job.

Have an architect

It is important to have an architect as part of your team. The architect shall guide you on positioning of the house, give you cost management ideas, guide you when selecting builders/ contractors, advise on appropriate time to start the work, and quality, among other things. In a nutshell, the architect is your key partner on technical matters. The architect might be hired on full time or part-time basis.

Select a good contractor

Your builder/contractor should be of good repute. If you are in doubt, ask your architect to assist with the selection process. The builder should be able to read and interpret drawings well, otherwise, the plans will not be used well. Beware of builders that claim to have accomplished a lot without proper references.

Clear the site

Clear the site of all obstacles likely to interfere with the construction works. Site clearance might involve cutting bushes, uprooting trees, digging up anthills and demolishing unwanted buildings. With the help of the architect, select what has to go and what can stay. Be sensitive to trees and other vegetation that can be preserved to conserve the environment.

Kill the anthills

Presence of anthills in your site and in neighbouring sites is an undesirable thing. Ants are notorious for destroying of timber installations in houses and should not be taken lightly.

 Get the site levelled and clear of any obstacles

Ensure that they are eradicated. For good measure, work on those in your site and those in the neighbouring sites. There are a number of effective ways to deal with this problem. Ask your architect for guidance if you are not sure of anything.

Level the site
If the site is not fairly levelled, find a team to level it for you with the guidance of the architect. Having good level ensures that the foundations are done properly and that there is little wastage.
This stage involves earthworks to various magnitudes, depending on the type of build. For a simple house, it is advisable to push off the top soil and get a reasonable level for the foundation to be dug.
Some builders might want to use foundation walls to get the level, but in many cases, that leads to a loss of material and an escalation of cost. It should be noted that when foundation walls are too high, there is a risk of cracking and breaking.
Get tools and equipment
For small builds, like simple bungalows, the client might have to buy some tools for the work. Items like wheelbarrows, hoes, mortar pans, cutlasses and strings have to be used for that job as consumables.
Bigger contractors capture them within their costs, while simple builders expect the client to buy them and retain ownership at the end of the project. Source of water Identify a reliable source of clean water for site work in time. Alternatives available are getting a NWSC connection to site, building a reservoir to be filled by trucks or buying daily from water vendors. Whichever method you opt to use, it is important to ensure that the water is clean. Using dirty water is not acceptable because cement is a chemical that reacts differently with impurities.
Site accommodation, storage
Site accommodation and storage is a critical part of a construction job. Site accommodation is necessary for security of materials and equipment. For remote sites, site workers can also sleep there to cut on travel time to work. Such units can be made out of timber and iron sheets.
The other option is to build temporary brick units that could be converted into stores or guardhouses.
Source of materials
Identify your source of materials for the job. There are vendors that can supply to site all materials required. Such vendors save you the challenge of dealing with a multitude of suppliers at ago.
The other option is to identify a particular source for each material and you deal with each one separately. This requires the project manager/client to be very alert in co-ordination deliveries and payments.
Site security should be taken care of right from the start.Building an enclosure to limit entry and exit to the site is one way. Some clients who have better resources opt to build a perimeter wall before the main project is built. There is also an option of using iron sheets to build hording around the site.
Security might also be in the form of a security guard or a site caretaker. The writer is an architect

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