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Thread: footer depth

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jun 2004
    Location
    NW Ohio
    Posts
    63

    Default footer depth

    I need some feedback on this. I am building a small 1 story room addition in a very heavely wooded area. There are a couple of oak trees that are well over 100 yrs old and some pines that are 75 ' tall.
    The problem we are having is that when we are digging the footer the deeper we go the more problems we are having with the tree roots. The concern is not good base soil as we have what seems to be a good soil base at this depth but I can only get 24" to the bottom of the footer below grade as oppossed to 40" that is standard.
    Some thoughts, I can't raise the grade in the whole area so that is out, but what I thought is to insulate the footers on both sides and top after block is layed with 2 " foam and raise the grade next to the foundation with landscaping blocks and fill the area with soil.
    The downspouts will drain quite a distance from the house so water next to the foundation will not be an issue. Also within 25' of this new foundation the yard slopes considerbly down to the lake which helps with water runoff so that water retention higher up in the yard is not as large a factor for frost levels.
    I am located in NW Ohio.

    Jason I am hoping to hear from you, you seem to have alot of insight in our area. Sorry I have not been able to take you up on the offer, Just seem to never be able to find the time.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jun 2004
    Posts
    581

    Default Re: footer depth

    You remove the tree roots and dig deeper.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Nov 2007
    Location
    Dallas,PA
    Posts
    1,054

    Default Re: footer depth

    Check out the "Cold Climate Housing Research Center" and look at the shallow foundation systems. Make sure you OK everything with the inspector. Good luck!
    "ALS IK KAN" - Stickley

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jun 2004
    Location
    NW Ohio
    Posts
    63

    Default Re: footer depth

    Thanks Calvert, The technique that is shown is exactly what I was going to do. Again thanks for the web site just to make sure.

    George, great comment obviously you did not read what I described as the problem. That is what makes some of these forums so beneficial it weeds out the guys that want to help others and some who just want to come up with stupid comments.

    George, Hopefully in the future you will need a question answered about framing and any other aspect of carpentry and I can give you just as informative of an answer that you gave me based upon 34 yrs as a framing contractor.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jun 2004
    Location
    NW Ohio
    Posts
    63

    Default Re: footer depth

    George , We do not have a building code or inspections in this area. I and many others have been trying since I moved here in 1988. As usual the general public is so mis-informed as to what the benefits are. They are only concerned that it will cost them more to build or remodel.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Jan 2007
    Location
    North/Central FL
    Posts
    784

    Default Re: footer depth

    I tend to agree with George. My idea of a good foundation is one that is free of organic matter. In many cases I have kept digging until the roots were gone. It's a sure way. Tim, you haven't filled out your profile, so we don't really know anything about you. A cold climate foundation (gravel bed, etc.) might be appropriate to your area, but if you have problems with large live organics underground you'd be a fool to think a big root won't move a house sitting on gravel, or at the very least break your foundation. Are you building for 10 yrs., or a lifetime?

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Jun 2004
    Location
    NW Ohio
    Posts
    63

    Default Re: footer depth

    The idea of digging deeper just exposes more and larger roots, as described there are some trees well over 100yrs old. The tree that seems to be the main culprit has been cut down to approx. 3' high and used for a table base in the surrounding deck so the growth of these roots has I assume stopped. I have no intention of using gravel as a footer base. I plan to put in a 10" x 16" 6 bag mix concrete with fibre and rebar. MNaybe alittle over kill on the footer in regular conditions but I don't think so here.
    Yes I am building for a lifetime or I would not have asked these questions.
    My background is I was a framing contractor for 34 yrs. in both high end residental and commercial , hotels , nursing homes , churches, apts and condo's. I also build some contracts and specs and have developed 3 residental sub-divisions. Not trying to be jerk to George but if I thought digging deeper would aleviate the problem I would have done that.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Jun 2004
    Location
    Martinez, California
    Posts
    14,988

    Default Re: footer depth

    Tim:

    We are not in a cold climate, but because of expansive soils we have been required to use all pier and grade beam foundations since 1974, tree roots are not a problem, the drill rig goes right through them. What I don't know is how a pier and grade beam engineers in a cold climate, but I wouldn't think it to be a problem.
    “It is not an endlessly expanding list of rights —the “right” to an education; the “right” to health care; the “right” to food and housing. That is not freedom. That is dependency. Those are not rights. Those are the rations of slavery – hay and a barn for human cattle.” - Alexis de Tocqueville

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Mar 2006
    Location
    Boise, Idaho
    Posts
    3,154

    Default Re: footer depth

    Wouldn't a soil bearing test in the problem area answer a lot of your questions?

    From what you describe I don't know how you came up with your footing requirements from other than a "gut feeling."

    I don't know about you but I like to see the numbers.
    Last edited by parkwest; 05-26-2008 at 11:18 PM.
    It is a simple matter of being patient. I do patience very well, except for the waiting part. That's the one aspect of patience that still bites me.

    I'm not saying I'm Superman. What I'm saying is no one has ever seen me and Superman in the same room together.

    ParkWest Homes LLC
    Working Man Online Store
    Living Healthy

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Jun 2004
    Location
    Martinez, California
    Posts
    14,988

    Default Re: footer depth

    For those new here, Tim was an active participant about 8 years ago.

    Tim, you might not think you have building codes because nobody is enforcing them but here is Ohio:

    Ohio Statewide
    * 2006 International Building Code
    * 2006 International Energy Conservation Code
    * 2006 International Fire Code
    * 2006 International Fuel Gas Code
    * 2006 International Mechanical Code
    * 2006 International Plumbing Code
    * 2003 International Residential Code

    This means you are legally liable to build to these codes since they are state law, I'd get an engineer to design your foundations to the 2003 IRC.
    “It is not an endlessly expanding list of rights —the “right” to an education; the “right” to health care; the “right” to food and housing. That is not freedom. That is dependency. Those are not rights. Those are the rations of slavery – hay and a barn for human cattle.” - Alexis de Tocqueville

  11. #11
    Join Date
    May 2007
    Location
    Seattle
    Posts
    625

    Default Re: footer depth

    Quote Originally Posted by Tim Hunsaker View Post
    The idea of digging deeper just exposes more and larger roots, as described there are some trees well over 100yrs old. The tree that seems to be the main culprit has been cut down to approx. 3' high and used for a table base in the surrounding deck so the growth of these roots has I assume stopped.
    Growth has stopped and decay has begun. When those big roots that are below your footer have compeletly decayed (after having transported water from here to there while they were decomposing), won't the void that they leave under your footings be a problem?
    - Aspen

  12. #12
    Join Date
    Jun 2004
    Posts
    581

    Default Re: footer depth

    Tim Hunsaker ---

    You seem to be happy with what you are doing. I don't understand why you are asking a question.

    You might notice that others have experessed the same concerns I had. Might be worthwhile for you to reconsider.

    As for me asking a question on an internet forum. Most likely will not happen. I have a license as an engineer to protect. I pay other engineers to answer questions I need help with.

  13. #13
    Join Date
    Sep 2004
    Posts
    5,891

    Default Re: footer depth

    I agree with what others have said. You really do need an engineered solution. There are too many factors like the loadbearing capacity of the soil, the load of the structure itself, frost penetration, existing structures ... . The solution might be to dig all the organic material out then build it up with engineered fill, maybe piles or caissons and a grade beam or maybe go deeper until you hit good soil. It all depends on what's practical, what's necessary and the costs involved. Regardless you should go to an engineer for a solution.

  14. #14
    Join Date
    Jun 2004
    Location
    NW Ohio
    Posts
    63

    Default Re: footer depth

    Thanks Dick , and yes I build to the OBBC and in some cases if there are certain situations I will adopt a code requirement from the surrounding counties.

    All of the suggestions are food for thought, I am meeting with the owner tonight to discuss the concerns and possible solution. I will be contacting an engineer to get their insight also.

    One note this addition is only a 10' x 13' shed roof type add on that will be used as a 3 season room. I guess that my thoughts were that such a small size along with a very nominal structure weight and most of the roof load being transfered horizontially as oppossed to verticle that my initial plans would be adequate. Glad I asked questions. Sometimes these small jobs from referrals are more bother than good. I will let you know what the verdict is.

  15. #15
    Join Date
    Mar 2006
    Location
    Boise, Idaho
    Posts
    3,154

    Default Re: footer depth

    Glad we could help.

    I gave up a long time ago trying to fix other people's problems for them.

    Now I get professional help and charge for my time.
    It is a simple matter of being patient. I do patience very well, except for the waiting part. That's the one aspect of patience that still bites me.

    I'm not saying I'm Superman. What I'm saying is no one has ever seen me and Superman in the same room together.

    ParkWest Homes LLC
    Working Man Online Store
    Living Healthy

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