What is Underpinning In Commercial Construction?

The foundation is the single most important part of any architectural structure. The foundation provides stability to everything else and is the single-most difficult and expensive component to repair or any building. In many cases, if the foundation is damaged, the building will be torn down or abandoned. However, for high-value commercial real estate, there is an option to fix the foundation without completely renovating the building.

Underpinning is the process of repairing and reinforcing a foundation that is damaged or sinking. In areas like California where earthquakes occur frequently, underpinning is a common solution to reinforcing a foundation that is beginning to sink. It can also be used to expand the foundation to more evenly support a large structure.

While underpinning is a complex process, it can save your commercial building investment as well as the businesses that rely on the building for their livelihoods.

Types of Underpinning

There are four primary types of underpinning used to reinforce foundations, and each is used depending on the size and structure of the building, as well as the severity of the repair. The four types are as follows:

  • Pit
  • Mass pouring
  • Beam and base
  • Pile

Your construction team will determine which type of underpinning is required for your project. They will go through a lengthy inspection process to determine the severity of the damage. In some cases, underpinning may not even be necessary. However, if your construction team recommends it, you shouldn’t skip this step before moving on to other renovations.

When is Underpinning Necessary?

Underpinning is typically used of the soil structure underneath the house changes, such as during an earthquake or flood when the soil is disrupted or washed away. It can also happen during major plumbing repairs or if a nearby tree falls and uproots underneath the structure.

Underpinning isn’t necessary if the foundation is simply worn or has superficial cracks, but if the foundation is no longer steady on the ground, it is typically required for the building to be considered safe.

MaintenX works with construction subcontractors to offer underpinning as well as other foundational repairs and exterior maintenance services to businesses across the U.S. If your building has recently been through a major change and needs emergency repairs, contact us today to learn about your options.

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