What Do I Need to Know about My Building’s Foundation?

What Do I Need to Know about My Building’s Foundation?

Here at Matador Engineered Metal Buildings, we want to make sure that you can get the most out of your steel structure for decades to come. That means doing everything the right way, from start to finish. Our engineers are expert craftsmen who design and fabricate every metal component that goes into making each of our steel buildings. You can count on us.

But there are other parts that go into making your building a reality. Some of them are made on-site, such as your building’s foundation. Although we don’t pour concrete foundations, we thought we could give you some tips and guidelines to help you through the process of getting one for your future steel structure. Here are answers to a few common questions about foundations:

Should I have my foundation built before I design my steel building?

No. We’re glad that you’re so anxious to get things off the ground, but you don’t want to start your foundation until your building’s design plans are finished and approved. This is important because the size and the weight of your building will determine the size and type of foundation you will need. Our engineers here at Matador will advise you on what kind of foundation will be best for you. You may also wish to consult foundation engineers from your local area who have knowledge about the special design needs of your region.

Should I consult a foundation engineer or a hire a contractor?

If you have never built a foundation before, you may want to employ an expert in the field. This is especially true if you are going to erect a large steel building for commercial or industrial use. And issues with your foundation could mean unnecessary (and costly) problems for your steel building down the road.

It is essential that you make sure that your steel building will be properly attached to your foundation. Therefore, you may especially wish to engage the services of a professional contractor when it comes to placing your building’s anchor bolts.

How do I prepare my site for putting in a foundation?

Let’s assume that you have a workable place picked out for your future steel structure—that means that the site is zoned for this type of construction and that you have all the permits you need from your local regulating authorities. That’s good. Next you should survey the land and stake it out, using your future building’s design as a guide for planning the foundation.

After that, you will need to make sure that the ground is as flat and level as possible. Your soil should also be free from large rocks and other debris. It might be best to excavate some of the existing dirt and replace it with clean dirt if the quality of the soil at your site is poor. As with building the foundation itself, you may want to consult a local contractor to do this grading and clearing work, especially if you are erecting a large steel structure. A local expert can also advise you concerning drainage around your building based on the slope of the land around it and the nature of the soil in your area.

Are there different kinds of foundations? What kind is best for my steel building?

Yes, there are. The one that is best for you will depend on several factors such as the size and weight load of your building, your building’s primary use, the compactness of the soil where you will erect your building, and the level of seismic activity in your region. Matador can advise you about this as we create your building plans with you. The main foundation types are:

  • Pier foundation: This type of foundation involves placing posts (or piers) around the perimeter of your future building. Holes for the piers are dug deep enough for them to rest on hardpan soil so that they will not shift. Small metal sheds are most likely to use this kind of foundation, though it can also be used for riding arenas and agricultural buildings.
  • Concrete slab foundation: This foundation is common for industrial buildings and warehouses. It consists of a flat slab of concrete poured into a beam framework set up around the perimeter of the future building. This slab will also serve as the floor of the metal building once it is built. It is often reinforced with embedded steel rebar or wire mesh for added strength. The thickness of the slab will depend upon the size and weight of the building as well as the climate. If you plan to install plumbing in your building, you will want to put in the water and sewer pipes before you pour the foundation.
  • Curb foundation: With a curb foundation, reinforced concrete containing weight-bearing piers is poured around the perimeter of the future building. This foundation sits above the level ground and serves as a base for the building’s exterior walls to sit upon. You may choose to pour a concrete slab into the area surrounded by the foundation once it’s complete. This will serve as your building’s floor.

What other things should I keep in mind when planning my foundation?

One of the advantages of steel buildings is that they can be built in almost any weather, at nearly any time of the year since steel doesn’t expand or contract because of changes in temperature or humidity. This is not the case when it comes to pouring concrete. For concrete to be its strongest once it dries and cures, you will need anywhere from three to seven days of dry weather at temperatures between 50 and 90 degrees Fahrenheit. If you fail to plan the pouring of your foundation with this in mind, its integrity will be compromised. This will result in you paying for costly repairs in the future. If your concrete does not set properly, it may eventually lose up to 50% of its cohesiveness and strength.

At Matador, we want your steel building experience to be as smooth as possible. If you have other questions about your building’s foundation, please don’t hesitate to reach out to us. We’ll be glad to help.