Going underground - the challenges of a basement dig out

Going underground - the challenges of a basement dig out

Basement dig outs are rarely out of the news in London, as hundreds of homeowners add value to their prime property with a subterranean extension. For Vision Construct meanwhile, basement dig outs tend to be on a larger scale. With space at a premium in vast urban developments of apartments and townhouses, we’re frequently tasked with building underground car parks. Find out how we overcome 2 of the most common excavation challenges

The right kind of soil and water

One of the biggest excavation complications a builder faces is unexpected ground water. In some areas, for every foot of excavation the risk of ‘piping’ increases, as water pressure builds up in certain types of soil and floods the newly dug out basement. In particular, the behaviour of the water flowing through layers of chalk, sand and clay around Greater London is difficult to predict. Until excavation methods became more sophisticated in recent years, tunnelling into the ground beneath South East London was considered especially treacherous. Find out more about soil mechanics via the National Building Specification (NBS) website.

So how do you minimize this risk? While there’s no cut and dried answer, experience, local knowledge and a comprehensive feasibility study can save the day. With a number of successful builds in South East London to our name – including a 5* luxury development with underground parking at Tavern Quay, SE16 – Vision Construct pay close attention to the excavation challenges of each and every project. This means that for every new feasibility survey we make, we also have extensive data from previous studies to help us predict what we might find.

Allocating time and budget to deal with groundwater issues is also essential at the planning stage. This could mean preparing to use an earth shoring system to hold back earth and water and keep nearby structures stable. Or it might be deciding to lay a raft foundation, where soil is weak. There are a number of solutions, but to keep your project on schedule, we always advise a contingency plan!

Problem-solving with resourcefulness and precision is an integral part of building with vision.

Dean Freeman Managing Director

The cost of digging deep

Our reputation for building pristine luxury developments sees us work with the UK’s leading developers and architects. The concept of secure, allocated underground parking – just a lift-ride away from the luxury homes above – is a key feature of the lifestyle we offer. But how do we and our partners profitably deliver these amenities? Not only does the cost of a dig out increase for every foot you excavate, but removed earth must be lifted higher too.

To find a solution, efficient, innovative design is the way forward; this is where our visionary architects and engineers come into their own. When building Meridian Point, a mixed-use development of apartments and retail space, we designed the space to provide a single floor of basement parking for residents and business owners alike. To avoid taking up precious space with an access ramp, we installed a car lift instead.

Speak to the team at Vision Construct to find out how we’ll help you overcome the challenges of your next construction project.

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