Why Buildings Need Foundations – And Why Concrete’s the Best Solution

Concrete for Foundations Cambridge - Supplied by Madmix

The phrase ‘a solid foundation’ can be applied to many areas – including relationships, basic skills or beliefs – but it is in the field of construction where the idea is arguably the most important.  Madmix supply concrete for foundations to householders and businesses in and around Cambridge. Here we look at the history and function of foundations, and why we would recommend our sulphate resistant concrete as the most suitable admixture.


What is the Purpose of Foundations?

Typically a foundation has three main purposes:

  1. To bear the load of a building. This can be either ‘dead’ or ‘live’. The former is the weight of the house structure, which never changes. The latter is the changing weight of its contents and people (and in colder climates, snow on the roof).
  2. To protect the building from natural forces. As a building with a foundation is by definition built into the ground, then it is less vulnerable to storms, high winds, earthquakes and other extreme weather.
  3. To protect against ground moisture. This is particularly a problem in areas where buildings are made of wood and other materials which can rot.

Sometimes you can add a fourth function – to add a storage space or basement. This is not always possible, though, because it depends on the strength of the concrete and the ground conditions.


The History of Foundations

Foundations can be traced back more than 12,000 years to the Neolithic era where inhabitants of Switzerland built houses on long, wooden piles that were driven into the soft beds of shallow lakes.

A few thousand years later, the Babylonians raised their monuments on mats made from reeds, and the ancient Egyptians supported the pyramids on stone blocks that rested on the bedrock. It was in ancient Rome the engineering behind foundations really took a big leap forwards, with rules created and concrete used.

In the UK, the 1878 Building Act gave real impetus to the use of concrete foundations. The Act regulated house foundations and wall types. It was soon recognised that concrete was the most structurally sound material for foundations because of its durability.


Concrete for Foundations from Cambridge-based Madmix

We would recommend sulphate resistant concrete for any foundations (or floors). This is because sulphates can find their way into local water sources and groundwater via industrial waste. They can also occur naturally in the soil.

These sulphates can create an adverse reaction with tricalcium aluminate, one of the key ingredients of the cement contained within any concrete. The sulphates – which are sometimes spelt ‘sulfates’ – force a conventional concrete admixture to expand, destroying the paste, which gives the concrete its adhesive qualities. Over time, the concrete will crack and spall, eventually losing much of its strength.

Increasing the amount of fly ash or reducing the amount of tricalcium aluminate in the admixture will make it more resistant to sulphates, which is important for any concrete used in foundations. It is also good for any concrete structure built near water or chemical storage facilities, such as sewage works, some sea walls and piers, as well as any underground projects.


Ordering Your Concrete from Madmix

At Madmix, we can provide whatever type of concrete admixture you need. We regularly provide waterproof, pumpable, a lower-strength lean/kerb mix, plus reinforced concrete containing polypropylene fibres, as well as sulphate resistant concrete to clients in Cambridgeshire and across East Anglia.

All you have to do is follow this link and fill in the online contact form, call us on 01954 212212 or email us at info@madmix.co.uk.

Madmix’s concrete is accredited, meaning that the quality of our concrete is regularly checked. For this reason, the concrete you receive from Madmix is guaranteed to be of high quality. Our website has an online concrete calculator that will help you to work out exactly how much you need so you can cut down on waste and costs. If you order a little too much, don’t worry, because we will take away any excess at no extra charge.

We can meet the needs of both large developments and small-scale domestic projects. And we deliver to homes and businesses in Newmarket, Haverhill, St Neots, St Ives, and across Cambridgeshire.

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