We often have clients ask about the clay preparation process. As one of the first phases of building a steel structure, it is crucial site prep be done right to ensure the building does not sink. If a building sinks too low, it will remain too low for life.
So what is The Reinhart Group’s secret ingredient to clay preparation? Very thin layers. That is the key, however it is similar to making bread. The right ingredients and precise moisture content must be present to make dough that sticks and successfully produces a loaf of bread.
Here’s how we make it happen:
- Soil clean-up. Most development sites have covering soils, anything from black dirt to sediment left over from rain. These materials must be removed, because they do not create a stable base to accommodate a building. Step one.
- Moisture check. Step two, check moisture content of the clay. If moisture is high, you can grade it so all of the water runs off the sides toward the ditches. The key is to make sure it doesn’t run too fast as erosion can result. Running off too slow can result in water puddles which will work an excess of moisture into the ground.
- Treatment. Wet or unstable soil can be bridged with clay and then covered with geogrid or geofabric. This can then be covered in gravel and/or other types of materials.
One of the biggest mistakes builders make is constructing a building on a base that is not high enough. There could be a cost savings by building a foot or two lower than recommended, however this makes it susceptible to water running towards the building and softening its edge or heaving the concrete pads. Drainage away from a building is vital.
Remember, compaction is about moisture. Different moisture levels give clay different compaction. If your clay is too dry, it will turn to powder which won’t stick together. If it is too wet, it will become a mud product. Clay soils must be tested and kept at optimum moisture percentages.
One of the benefits of leasing is elimination of all these worries. Soil clean-ups, treatments, and moisture checks are the property owner’s responsibility leaving the onus on them to deal with any necessary work and the cost of it.
If you don’t plan to lease, be sure not to skimp. You can cut a few corners when dealing with things you can upgrade later, such as lighting, but you can’t put two feet of clay under a finished building. Add doors and specialty items later if you want to save, but don’t cut corners when it comes to building height and elevation.