Breaking Ground: 2023 Extension Build Ep.1

Sam and Jen from SJ Ward Builders start a new single-storey side extension project.

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The Initial Stages of Building an Extension: From Groundworks to Concrete Foundations

Embarking on a home extension project is an exhilarating journey that transforms your living space and your lifestyle. Adding more room to your house might sound simple, but the groundwork leading up to the moment the concrete foundations are poured is intricate and requires meticulous planning. In this deep dive, we’ll take you through the initial stages of building an extension, emphasising the importance of groundwork and pouring concrete foundations.

1. The Vision and Design Phase:
Before a single shovel hits the ground, it’s crucial to have a clear vision for your extension. This involves careful considerations regarding the purpose of the space, the design aesthetics, and how it would integrate with the existing structure. Engaging an architect or designer at this stage can be invaluable, as they can provide expertise and innovative solutions to make the most of your space.

2. Site Survey and Assessment:
This step involves thoroughly examining your property to identify potential issues affecting the extension. A site survey determines the type, size, and depth of foundations required, factoring in soil type, nearby trees, and the water table level. This process often identifies possible challenges early on, ensuring no unexpected setbacks during construction.

3. Securing Permits and Permissions:
Depending on where you live, constructing a home extension might require planning permissions or building permits. Applying for these early is imperative, ensuring that all design aspects comply with local regulations. This can sometimes be a lengthy process, but ensuring that your extension is legal and safe is essential.

4. Groundwork and Site Preparation:
With permissions in place and a plan in hand, the actual construction work begins. Groundwork is essentially the process of preparing the site for the new extension. This includes clearing the site of any debris or vegetation, setting out the exact boundaries of the extension, and excavating the area where the foundations will be laid.

One crucial aspect of the groundwork phase is ensuring that the site is appropriately drained. Water accumulation can compromise the stability and longevity of your extension, so it’s paramount to establish efficient drainage systems at this stage.

5. Laying the Foundations:
Foundations are the bedrock of any extension. They bear the weight of the new structure, ensuring its stability and durability. The type of foundation required depends on several factors determined during the site assessment. Common types include strip foundations, trench fill foundations, and raft foundations.

Once the trenches are excavated to the required depth (taking into account the frost line, soil type, and the load-bearing capacity of the ground), steel reinforcements might be placed in, especially for larger extensions or in areas with softer soil. These reinforcements add an extra layer of strength and stability to the concrete foundation.

The final step in this stage is pouring the concrete. It’s vital to ensure that the mix is right, considering the specific requirements of your site. The concrete is then poured into the trenches, levelled, and allowed to cure. Curing is critical; it ensures the concrete reaches its desired strength and durability.

In conclusion, while a home extension might revolve around the aesthetic and functional benefits, the initial stages are grounded in rigorous planning, assessments, and meticulous groundwork. Laying a robust foundation – literally and figuratively – ensures that your extension stands the test of time, offering you a space that enhances your home and life.

About Dylan Garton

Dylan Garton is a co-founder, video producer and editor for the Skill Builder social media platforms.

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