There are many factors that are considered in order to provide a proper foundation. Size, shape, and materials selected for the superstructure are analyzed to determine loads and how those loads are delivered to the foundation. Environmental factors, such as soil composition and expected moisture variations due to rainfall and water-table levels are analyzed to determine the reaction of the subbase to these loads. The type of foundation selected must be designed with these parameters in mind.
Southeast Engineers is one of the region’s most experienced foundation design firms. With well over 12,000 foundations currently in service, we have the expertise and experience to provide appropriate, efficient, and timely designs for projects of any size and will meet all structural and regulatory requirements.
Common Foundation Design Types:
Ground Supported Slab Foundations
The most common foundation system in use today, this system uses reinforced concrete to transfer the expected loads to the soil below. Integrated footings (grade beams) are used to provide rigidity and reinforcement is designed to assure stability. Any fill soils needed to elevate the existing grade is selected and designed with placement specifications included. Concrete slabs provide the primary flooring surface support and need to be designed with an understanding of the potential for vertical displacements. The concrete reinforcement selected is important for the design’s ultimate success. Southeast Engineers has extensive experience designing both Conventionally Reinforced (Rebar) and Post Tensioned Reinforced concrete foundations
Elevated (Pier and Beam) Foundations
Often, the new FEMA flood requirements will require that the Finished Floor elevation may be quite a lot higher than the existing grade. Other times, the owner may simply desire the more traditional look and feel of a wood floor supported foundation and/or the property is in an area that precludes the placement of fill soil. In these cases, the engineer will need to evaluate the loading and ground supporting capacity with respect to individual column support. A system of wood and/or steel beams and floor joists will need to be designed to distribute the house loads to the columns and then to the ground. Connections for each portion of the system to one another is important to assure stability and to counter and wind loaded uplift, etc.
Deep Supported Foundations
In areas of unstable soils or if an excessive amount of fill is required, it is often necessary to provide deep support to translate the loads discussed above below the upper (unstable) soils into the lower (more stable) soils. Reinforced concrete slabs and elevated pier and beam foundations may require deep support and are adapted to benefit from it. Southeast Engineers has extensive experience in all common forms of deep support: Drilled Shafts, Driven Timber Piles, Driven Concrete Piles, Helical Screw Piles, etc.
On properties with dramatic slopes, uneven topography, or low elevation relative to required building heights; a retaining wall system may be required to contain any added fill. These walls may be built integral with the foundation itself or as a stand-alone element. Southeast Engineers has the expertise and experience to design these systems to address stability and cosmetic needs.
Assessment of Existing Foundations
If you already own a home and suspect foundation problems, Southeast Engineers has years of experience providing assessments of existing structures. We take a holistic approach to evaluating the condition by examining the structure from peak of roof to ground and can provide recommendations for appropriate remediation actions that may be warranted, if any are needed. Visit our foundation repairs page for additional information
There are plenty of decisions to make and factors to consider when deciding to build your future house. In Louisiana, we understand the necessity of building a structure that can stand up to the powerful winds of hurricanes and tropical systems. At Southeast Engineers, we want you to have “Peace of Mind” in your home, so we ensure that your house will be designed with the latest wind-load design requirements in mind. We specialize in the design of the four main framing options for residential properties today. These include wood, steel, concrete and masonry.
Wood frame construction is one of the most popular methods of building houses in the United States. While economical to build, wood is suitable for contemporary, traditional and futuristic building designs allowing almost unlimited design possibilities. Wooden structures are quick to construct and easily maintained. However, as new house designs evolve to more open floorplans and higher ceiling heights, it becomes imperative that the designs accommodate new trends while still maintaining structural integrity. Continuity of load path resistance and proper connection designs are vitally important in modern house design.
Similar to wood frame construction, steel frames are being used more frequently in residential construction. Steel can be easily shaped into various forms making it adaptable to any architectural style. Its lightweight design allows quick construction while holding an equivalent strength to wooden structures. Steel tends to have greater durability since it is not susceptible to rot, warping and insects. Again, the connections and details are extraordinarily important to assure a lasting value.
Concrete frame construction is known for its durability and energy saving properties. Popular along the Gulf Coast, concrete structures create a fortress against strong winds and tropical systems while being resilient to insects and weathering. Houses built with concrete, on average, require less energy to heat and cool than traditional wood structures. They are effective at reducing outside noise, making them quieter than traditional framed houses. Concrete mix designs and reinforcement details need to be properly engineered to preserve the value concrete provides.
Masonry construction, also known as Concrete Masonry Unit (CMU) construction, is one of the oldest construction methods used today. Many people erroneously call it “cinder block”. Known for its strength and durability, CMU houses can last for hundreds of years, if properly maintained, while lowering energy cost. With a multitude of options, masonry is adaptable in most traditional and contemporary design styles.
If you already own a house and would like to make renovations or need design support, Southeast Engineers has an experienced team ready to help you along the way.
Houses tend to show cracks as they age that may be worrisome to many homeowners. But, not every crack is a sign that serious structural issues exist. Southeast Engineers has an experienced team of professionals who can determine whether or not your house needs attention.
We provide unbiased assessments of your houses’ framing and foundation while delivering professional advice on the need for repairs.
Structural failure may include:
- Uneven floors
- Cracked finishes (walls, ceilings, floors, brick and crown molding)
- Sticking doors and windows
- Sagging ceilings, roofs and/or floors
After a complete diagnostic assessment of your house, our engineers will offer recommendations on any repairs, if necessary. Many times, repairs may not be necessary, regardless of non-engineer opinions.
If you’re suspecting foundation failure issues in your house, give us a call.
With high annual rainfall, an important issue for new developments is storm water management. Drainage around your house should be taken seriously and well managed. Otherwise, the results can lead to extensive house repairs down the road.
Our experienced staff takes into account appropriate storm water management practices in our designs helping keep your house high and dry while properly accounting for storm water.
Storm water management practices typically involve roof gutters, yard drains, proper lawn grading, French Drainage systems, or some combination of those features. In any event, retained storm water adjacent to your house foundation may promote foundation settlement and wall cracks in your house. Allow the team of professionals at Southeast Engineers to assist you by developing a storm water management plan to promote a functional and pleasing environment for your home.
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About Southeast Engineers
Southeast Engineers is a market leader in a wide range of engineering services. From engineering design to plan development, permitting, and construction management, Southeast Engineers has the expertise and commitment to assure success in commercial, residential, and site development projects.