Friday, December 19, 2014

Stepped Foundations

These are usually considered in the context of strip foundations and are used mainly on sloping sites to reduce the amount of excavation and materials required to produce an adequate foundation.

Foundations - Calculated Sizing

Typical procedure (for guidance only)

Therefore a foundation width of 500 mm is adequate. Note: This example assumes the site is sheltered. If it is necessary to make allowance for wind loading, reference should be made to BS 6399-2: Code of practice for wind loads.

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Foundations - Basic Sizing

Basic Sizing ~ the size of a foundation is basically dependent on two factors

1. Load being transmitted, max 70 kN/m (dwellings up to 3 storeys).
2. Bearing capacity of subsoil under proposed foundation.

Bearing capacities for different types of subsoils may be obtained from tables such as those in BS 8004: Code of practice for foundations and BS 8103-1: Structural design of low rise buildings. Also, directly from soil investigation results.

The above widths may not provide adequate working space within the excavation and can be increased to give required space.

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Foundation Beds - Typical Example

Bed - A concrete slab resting on and supported by the subsoil, usually forming the ground floor surface. Beds (sometimes called oversite concrete) are usually cast on a layer of hardcore which is used to make up the reduced level excavation and thus raise the level of the concrete bed to a position above ground level.

Foundation Types







Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Foundation Materials

From page 190 one of the functions of a foundation can be seen to be the ability to spread its load evenly over the ground on which it rests. It must of course be constructed of a durable material of adequate strength. Experience has shown that the most suitable material is concrete.

Concrete is a mixture of cement - aggregates - water in controlled proportions.

Foundation Materials

Foundations - Cracking in Walls

Cracks are caused by applied forces which exceed those that the building can withstand. Most cracking is superficial, occurring as materials dry out and subsequently shrink to reveal minor surface fractures of < 2mm. These insignificant cracks can be made good with proprietary fillers. Severe cracking in walls may result from foundation failure, due to inadequate design or physical damage. Further problems could include: A survey should be undertaken to determine:

1. The cause of cracking, i.e.

* Loads applied externally (tree roots, subsoil movement).
* Climate/temperature changes (thermal movement).
* Moisture content change (faulty dpc, building leakage).
* Vibration (adjacent work, traffic).
* Changes in physical composition (salt or ice formation).
* Chemical change (corrosion, sulphate attack).
* Biological change (timber decay).

2. The effect on a building's performance (structural and environmental).

3. The nature of movement † completed, ongoing or intermittent (seasonal).

Observations over a period of several months, preferably over a full year, will determine whether the cracking is new or established and whether it is progressing. Simple method for monitoring cracks.

Foundations - Cracking in Walls

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Foundations - Subsoil Movements

These are due primarily to changes in volume when the subsoil becomes wet or dry and occurs near the upper surface of the soil. Compact granular soils such as gravel suffer very little movement whereas cohesive soils such as clay do suffer volume changes near the upper surface. Similar volume changes can occur due to water held in the subsoil freezing and expanding † this is called Frost Heave.

Foundations - Subsoil Movements

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Foundations Example

The function of any foundation is to safely sustain and transmit to the ground on which it rests the combined dead, imposed and wind loads in such a manner as not to cause any settlement or other movement which would impair the stability or cause damage to any part of the building.

Foundations Example

Subsoil beneath foundation is compressed and reacts by exerting an upward pressure to resist foundation loading. If foundation load exceeds maximum passive pressure of ground (i.e. bearing capacity) a downward movement of the foundation could occur. Remedy is to increase plan size of foundation to reduce the load per unit area or alternatively reduce the loadings being carried by the foundations.

Power Float

A hand-operated electric motor or petrol engine, surmounted over a mechanical surface skimmer. Machines are provided with an interchangeable revolving disc and a set of blades. These are used in combination to produce a smooth, dense and level surface finish to in-situ concrete beds.

The advantages offset against the cost of plant hire are:

* Eliminates the time and materials needed to apply a finishing screed.
* A quicker process and less labour-intensive than hand troweling.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Poker Vibrators

These consist of a hollow steel tube casing in which is a rotating impeller which generates vibrations as its head comes into contact with the casing

Poker vibrators should be inserted vertically and allowed to penetrate 75 mm into any previously vibrated concrete.

Clamp or Tamping Board Vibrators

Clamp vibrators are powered either by compressed air or electricity whereas tamping board vibrators are usually petrol driven

Placing Concrete

This activity is usually carried out by hand with the objectives of filling the mould, formwork or excavated area to the correct depth, working the concrete around any inserts or reinforcement and finally compacting the concrete to the required consolidation. The compaction of concrete can be carried out using simple tamping rods or boards or alternatively it can be carried out with the aid of plant such as vibrators.

Monday, July 7, 2014

Concrete Pumps

These are used to transport large volumes of concrete in a short time period (up to 100 m3 per hour) in both the vertical and horizontal directions from the pump position to the point of placing. Concrete pumps can be trailer or lorry mounted and are usually of a twin cylinder hydraulically driven format with a small bore pipeline (100 mm diameter) with pumping ranges of up to 85„000 vertically and 200„000 horizontally depending on the pump model and the combination of vertical and horizontal distances. It generally requires about 45 minutes to set up a concrete pump on site including coating the bore of the pipeline with a cement grout prior to pumping the special concrete mix.

The pump is supplied with pumpable concrete by means of a constant flow of ready mixed concrete lorries throughout the pumping period after which the pipeline is cleared and cleaned. Usually a concrete pump and its operator(s) are hired for the period required.

Concrete Pumps


this site activity consists of four basic procedures †

1 . Material Supply and Storage - this is the receiving on site of the basic materials namely cement, fine aggregate and coarse aggregate and storing them under satisfactory conditions. (see Concrete Production † Materials on pages 284 & 285)

2. Mixing - carried out in small batches this requires only simple hand held tools whereas when demand for increased output is required mixers or ready mixed supplies could be used.

3. Transporting - this can range from a simple bucket to barrows and dumpers for small amounts. For larger loads, especially those required at high level, crane skips could be used:

For the transportation of large volumes of concrete over a limited distance concrete pumps could be used.

4. Placing Concrete - this activity involves placing the wet concrete in the excavation, formwork or mould; working the concrete between and around any reinforcement; vibrating and/ or tamping and curing in accordance with the recommendations of BS 8110: Structural use of concrete. This standard also covers the striking or removal of the formwork. Further ref. BS 8000-2.1: Workmanship on building sites. Code of practice for concrete work. Mixing and transporting concrete. Also, BS EN 1992-1-1 and -2: Design of concrete structures.


Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Tower Cranes

Most tower cranes have to be assembled and erected on site prior to use and can be equipped with a horizontal or luffing jib. The wide range of models available often make it difficult to choose a crane suitable for any particular site but most tower cranes can be classified into one of four basic groups thus:-

1. Self Supporting Static Tower Cranes † high lifting capacity with the mast or tower fixed to a foundation base - they are suitable for confined and open sites. (see page 194)

2. Supported Static Tower Cranes † similar in concept to self supporting cranes and are used where high lifts are required, the mast or tower being tied at suitable intervals to the structure to give extra stability. (see page 195)

3. Travelling Tower Cranes † these are tower cranes mounted on power bogies running on a wide gauge railway track to give greater site coverage - only slight gradients can be accommodated therefore a reasonably level site or specially constructed railway support trestle is required. (see page 196)

4. Climbing Cranes † these are used in conjunction with tall buildings and structures. The climbing mast or tower is housed within the structure and raised as the height of the structure is increased. Upon completion the crane is dismantled into small sections and lowered down the face of the building. (see page 197)

All tower cranes should be left in an `out of service' condition when unattended and in high wind conditions, the latter varying with different models but generally wind speeds in excess of 60 km p.h. would require the crane to be placed in an out of service condition thus:

Mast Cranes

These are similar in appearance to the familiar tower cranes but they have one major difference in that the mast or tower is mounted on the slewing ring and thus rotates whereas a tower crane has the slewing ring at the top of the tower and therefore only the jib portion rotates. Mast cranes are often mobile, self erecting, of relatively low lifting capacity and are usually fitted with a luffing jib. A wide variety of models are available and have the advantage over most mobile low pivot cranes of a closer approach to the face of the building.

Mast Cranes

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Gantry Cranes

These are sometimes called portal cranes and consist basically of two `A' frames joined together with a cross member on which transverses the lifting appliance. In small gantry cranes (up to 10 tonnes lifting capacity) the `A' frames are usually wheel mounted and manually propelled whereas in the large gantry cranes (up to 100 tonnes lifting capacity) the `A' frames are mounted on powered bogies running on rail tracks with the driving cab and lifting gear mounted on the cross beam or gantry. Small gantry cranes are used primarily for loading and unloading activities in stock yards whereas the medium and large gantry cranes are used to straddle the work area such as in power station construction or in repetitive low to medium rise developments. All gantry cranes have the advantage of three direction movement

1 . Transverse by moving along the cross beam.
2. Vertical by raising and lowering the hoist block.
3. Horizontal by forward and reverse movements of the whole gantry crane.

Gantry Cranes

Track Mounted Cranes

These machines can be a universal power unit rigged as a crane (see page 178) or a purpose designed track mounted crane with or without a fly jib attachment. The latter type are usually more powerful with lifting capacities up to 45 tonnes. Track mounted cranes can travel and carry out lifting operations on most sites without the need for special road and hardstand provisions but they have to be rigged on arrival after being transported to site on a low loader lorry.

Track Mounted Cranes

Lorry Mounted Lattice Jib Cranes

These cranes follow the same basic principles as the lorry mounted telescopic cranes but they have a lattice boom and are designed as heavy duty cranes with lifting capacities in excess of 100 tonnes. These cranes will require a firm level surface from which to operate and can have a folding or sectional jib which will require the crane to be rigged on site before use.

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Lorry Mounted Cranes

These mobile cranes consist of a lattice or telescopic boom mounted on a specially adapted truck or lorry. They have two operating positions: the lorry being driven from a conventional front cab and the crane being controlled from a different location. The lifting capacity of these cranes can be increased by using outrigger stabilising jacks and the approach distance to the face of building decreased by using a fly jib. Lorry mounted telescopic cranes require a firm surface from which to operate and because of their short site preparation time they are ideally suited for short hire periods.

Lorry Mounted Cranes

Self Propelled Cranes

These are mobile cranes mounted on a wheeled chassis and have only one operator position from which the crane is controlled and the vehicle driven. The road speed of this type of crane is generally low, usually not exceeding 30 km p.h. A variety of self propelled crane formats are available ranging from short height lifting strut booms of fixed length to variable length lattice booms with a fly jib attachment.

Self Propelled Cranes

Cranes - Construction

These are lifting devices designed to raise materials by means of rope operation and move the load horizontally within the limitations of any particular machine. The range of cranes available is very wide and therefore choice must be based on the loads to be lifted, height and horizontal distance to be covered, time period(s) of lifting operations, utilisation factors and degree of mobility required. Crane types can range from a simple rope and pulley or gin wheel to a complex tower crane but most can be placed within 1 of 3 groups, namely mobile, static and tower cranes.

Cranes - Construction

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Rubble Chutes - Demolition

These apply to contracts involving demolition, repair, maintenance and refurbishment. The simple concept of connecting several perforated dustbins is reputed to have been conceived by an ingenious site operative for the expedient and safe conveyance of materials.

In purpose designed format, the tapered cylinders are produced from reinforced rubber with chain linkage for continuity. Overall unit lengths are generally 1100 mm, providing an effective length of 1 m. Hoppers and side entry units are made for special applications.

Rubble Chutes - Demolition
Ref. Highways Act - written permit (licence) must be obtained from the local authority highways department for use of a skip on a public thoroughfare. It will have to be illuminated at night and may require a temporary traffic light system to regulate vehicles.


These are designed for the vertical transportation of materials, passengers or materials and passengers. Materials hoists are designed for one specific use (i.e. the vertical transportation of materials) and under no circumstances should they be used to transport passengers. Most material hoists are of a mobile format which can be dismantled, folded onto the chassis and moved to another position or site under their own power or towed by a haulage vehicle. When in use material hoists need to be stabilised and/or tied to the structure and enclosed with a protective screen.


Fork Lift Trucks

These are used for the horizontal and limited vertical transportation of materials positioned on pallets or banded together such as brick packs. They are generally suitable for construction sites where the building height does not exceed three storeys. Although designed to negotiate rough terrain site fork lift trucks have a higher productivity on firm and level soils. Three basic fork lift truck formats are available, namely straight mast, overhead and telescopic boom with various height, reach and lifting capacities. Scaffolds onto which the load(s) are to be placed should be strengthened locally or a specially constructed loading tower could be built as an attachment to or as an integral part of the main scaffold.

Thursday, May 29, 2014

Dumpers - Transport Vehicles

These are used for the horizontal transportation of materials on and off construction sites generally by means of an integral tipping skip. Highway dumpers are of a similar but larger design and can be used to carry materials such as excavated spoil along the roads. A wide range of dumpers are available of various carrying capacities and options for gravity or hydraulic discharge control with front tipping, side tipping or elevated tipping facilities.

Special format dumpers fitted with flat platforms, rigs to carry materials skips and rigs for concrete skips for crane hoisting are also obtainable. These machines are designed to traverse rough terrain but they are not designed to carry passengers and this misuse is the cause of many accidents involving dumpers.

Multi-purpose Excavators - Construction Machinery

These machines are usually based on the agricultural tractor with 2 or 4 wheel drive and are intended mainly for use in conjunction with small excavation works such as those encountered by the small to medium sized building contractor. Most multi-purpose excavators are fitted with a loading/excavating front bucket and a rear backacter bucket both being hydraulically controlled. When in operation using the backacter bucket the machine is raised off its axles by rear mounted hydraulic outriggers or jacks and in some models by placing the front bucket on the ground. Most machines can be fitted with a variety of bucket widths and various attachments such as bulldozer blades, scarifiers, grab buckets and post hole auger borers.

Typical Multi-purpose Excavators Details

Draglines - Construction Machinery

These machines are based on the universal power unit with basic crane rigging to which is attached a drag bucket. The machine is primarily designed for bulk excavation in loose soils up to 3000 below its own track level by swinging the bucket out to the excavation position and hauling or dragging it back towards the power unit. Dragline machines can also be fitted with a grab or clamshell bucket for excavating in very loose soils.

Typical Dragline Details

Monday, May 19, 2014

Backacters - Construction Machinery

These machines are suitable for trench, foundation and basement excavations and are available as a universal power unit base machine or as a purpose designed hydraulic unit. They can be used with or without attendant haulage vehicles since the spoil can be placed alongside the excavation for use in backfilling. These machines will require a low loader transport vehicle for travel between sites. Backacters used in trenching operations with a bucket width equal to the trench width can be very accurate with a high output rating.

Typical Backacter Details

Face Shovels - Construction Machinery

The primary function of this piece of plant is to excavate above its own track or wheel level. They are available as a universal power unit based machine or as a hydraulic purpose designed unit. These machines can usually excavate any type of soil except rock which needs to be loosened, usually by blasting, prior to excavation. Face shovels generally require attendant haulage vehicles for the removal of spoil and a low loader transport lorry for travel between sites. Most of these machines have a limited capacity of between 300 and 400 mm for excavation below their own track or wheel level.

Typical Face Shovel Details

Face Shovels - Construction Machinery

Skimmers - Construction Machinery

These excavators are rigged using a universal power unit for surface stripping and shallow excavation work up to 300 mm deep where a high degree of accuracy is required. They usually require attendant haulage vehicles to remove the spoil and need to be transported between sites on a low-loader. Because of their limitations and the alternative machines available they are seldom used today.

Skimmers - Construction Machinery

Excavating Machines - Construction Machinery

These are one of the major items of builders plant and are used primarily to excavate and load most types of soil. Excavating machines come in a wide variety of designs and sizes but all of them can be placed within one of three categories:

1. Universal Excavators - this category covers most forms of excavators all of which have a common factor the power unit. The universal power unit is a tracked based machine with a slewing capacity of 360 and by altering the boom arrangement and bucket type different excavating functions can be obtained. These machines are selected for high output requirements and are rope controlled.

2. Purpose Designed Excavators - these are machines which have been designed specifically to carry out one mode of excavation and they usually have smaller bucket capacities than universal excavators; they are hydraulically controlled with a shorter cycle time.

3. Multi-purpose Excavators - these machines can perform several excavating functions having both front and rear attachments. They are designed to carry out small excavation operations of low output quickly and efficiently. Multi-purpose excavators can be obtained with a wheeled or tracked base and are ideally suited for a small building firm with low excavation plant utilisation requirements.

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Tractor Shovels - Construction Machinery

These machines are sometimes called loaders or loader shovels and primary function is to scoop up loose materials in the front mounted bucket, elevate the bucket and manoeuvre into a position to deposit the loose material into an attendant transport vehicle. Tractor shovels are driven towards the pile of loose material with the bucket lowered, the speed and power of the machine will enable the bucket to be filled. Both tracked and wheeled versions are available, the tracked format being more suitable for wet and uneven ground conditions than the wheeled tractor shovel which has greater speed and manoeuvring capabilities. To increase their versatility tractor shovels can be fitted with a 4 in 1 bucket enabling them to carry out bulldozing, excavating, clam lifting and loading activities.

Typical Tractor Shovel Details

Typical Tractor Shovel Details

Graders - Construction Machinery

These machines are similar in concept to bulldozers in that they have a long slender adjustable mould blade, which is usually slung under the centre of the machine. A grader's main function is to finish or grade the upper surface of a large area usually as a follow up operation to scraping or bulldozing. They can produce a fine and accurate finish but do not have the power of a bulldozer therefore they are not suitable for oversite excavation work. The mould blade can be adjusted in both the horizontal and vertical planes through an angle of 300 the latter enabling it to be used for grading sloping banks.

Two basic formats of grader are available:-

1. Four Wheeled † all wheels are driven and steered which gives the machine the ability to offset and crab along its direction of travel.

2. Six Wheeled † this machine has 4 wheels in tandem drive at the rear and 2 front tilting idler wheels giving it the ability to counteract side thrust.

Typical Grader Details

 Graders - Construction Machinery

Scrapers - Construction Machinery

these machines consist of a scraper bowl which is lowered to cut and collect soil where site stripping and levelling operations are required involving large volume of earth. When the scraper bowl is full the apron at the cutting edge is closed to retain the earth and the bowl is raised for travelling to the disposal area. On arrival the bowl is lowered, the apron opened and the spoil pushed out by the tailgate as the machine moves
forwards. Scrapers are available in three basic formats:-

1. Towed Scrapers † these consist of a four wheeled scraper bowl which is towed behind a power unit such as a crawler tractor. They tend to be slower than other forms of scraper but are useful for small capacities with haul distances up to 300 00.

2. Two Axle Scrapers † these have a two wheeled scraper bowl with an attached two wheeled power unit. They are very manoeuvrable with a low rolling resistance and very good traction.

3. Three Axle Scrapers † these consist of a two wheeled scraper bowl which may have a rear engine to assist the four wheeled traction engine which makes up the complement. Generally these machines have a greater capacity potential than their counterparts, are easier to control and have a faster cycle time.

To obtain maximum efficiency scrapers should operate downhill if possible, have smooth haul roads, hard surfaces broken up before scraping and be assisted over the last few metres by a pushing vehicle such as a bulldozer.

Typical Scraper Details

Scrapers - Construction Machinery

Bulldozers - Construction Machinery

These machines consist of a track or wheel mounted power unit with a mould blade at the front which is controlled by hydraulic rams. Many bulldozers have the capacity to adjust the mould blade to form an angledozer and the capacity to tilt the mould blade about a central swivel point. Some bulldozers can also be fitted with rear attachments such as rollers and scarifiers.

The main functions of a bulldozer are:-

1 . Shallow excavations up to 300 m deep either on level ground or sidehill cutting.
2. Clearance of shrubs and small trees.
3. Clearance of trees by using raised mould blade as a pusher arm.
4. Acting as a towing tractor.
5. Acting as a pusher to scraper machines.

NB. Bulldozers push earth in front of the mould blade with some side spillage whereas angledozers push and cast the spoil to one side of the mould blade.

Typical Bulldozer Details

Bulldozers - Construction Machinery

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Builders Plant - Output and Cycle Times

Output and Cycle Times ~ all items of plant have optimum output and cycle times which can be used as a basis for estimating anticipated productivity taking into account the task involved, task efficiency of the machine, operator's efficiency and in the case of excavators the type of soil. Data for the factors to be taken into consideration can be obtained from timed observations, feedback information or published tables contained in manufacturer's literature or reliable textbooks.

Typical Example ~

Backacter with 1 m3 capacity bucket engaged in normal trench excavation in a clayey soil and discharging directly into an attendant haulage vehicle.

An allowance should be made for the bulking or swell of the solid material due to the introduction of air or voids during the excavation process

This gives a vehicle waiting overlap ensuring excavator is fully utilised which is economically desirable.

Builders Plant Costing

Plant Costing ~ with the exception of small pieces of plant, which are usually purchased, items of plant can be bought or hired or where there are a number of similar items a combination of buying and hiring could be considered. The choice will be governed by economic factors and the possibility of using the plant on future sites thus enabling the costs to be apportioned over several contracts.

Advantages of Hiring Plant:

1. Plant can be hired for short periods.

2. Repairs and replacements are usually the responsibility of the hire company.

3. Plant is returned to the hire company after use thus relieving the building contractor of the problem of disposal or finding more work for the plant to justify its purchase or retention.

4. Plant can be hired with the operator, fuel and oil included in the hire rate.

Advantages of Buying Plant:

1. Plant availability is totally within the control of the contractor.

2. Hourly cost of plant is generally less than hired plant.

3. Owner has choice of costing method used.

Typical Costing Methods

Builders Plant - Economic and Maintenance Considerations

Economic Considerations ~ the introduction of plant does not always result in economic savings since extra temporary site works such as roadworks, hardstandings, foundations and anchorages may have to be provided at a cost which is in excess of the savings made by using the plant. The site layout and circulation may have to be planned around plant positions and movements rather than around personnel and material movements and accommodation. To be economic plant must be fully utilised and not left standing idle since plant, whether hired or owned, will have to be paid for even if it is non-productive. Full utilisation of plant is usually considered to be in the region of 85% of on site time, thus making an allowance for routine, daily and planned maintenance which needs to be carried out to avoid as far as practicable plant breakdowns which could disrupt the construction programme. Many pieces of plant work in conjunction with other items of plant such as excavators and their attendant haulage vehicles therefore a correct balance of such plant items must be obtained to achieve an economic result.

Maintenance Considerations ~ on large contracts where a number of plant items are to be used it may be advantageous to employ a skilled mechanic to be on site to carry out all the necessary daily, preventive and planned maintenance tasks together with any running repairs which could be carried out on site.

Builders Plant - General Considerations

General Considerations ~ items of builders plant ranging from small hand held power tools to larger pieces of plant such as mechanical excavators and tower cranes can be considered for use for one or more of the following reasons:-  

1. Increased production.

2. Reduction in overall construction costs.

3. Carry out activities which cannot be carried out by the traditional manual methods in the context of economics.

4. Eliminate heavy manual work thus reducing fatigue and as a consequence increasing productivity.

5. Replacing labour where there is a shortage of personnel with the necessary skills.

6. Maintain the high standards required particularly in the context of structural engineering works.

Monday, March 17, 2014

Sustainable Demolition

Concept ~ to reduce waste by designing for deconstruction.

Linear (wasteful, non-sustainable) process ~

Sustainable Demolition

Closed-loop (near zero waste, sustainable) process ~

Closed-loop (near zero waste, sustainable) process