At Fallon Piling, we take on jobs both small and large – and one memorable job down in Gosport definitely qualified as a large one!
Gilicker Ltd, a construction company based in the Gosport area, got in touch with the Fallon team to put forward a challenging but intriguing proposition. They were building a block of 32 luxury apartments in a picture-perfect, scenic location overlooking the beautiful harbour at Gosport, and they needed a reliable team to lay secure foundations on which they could realise the project.
Now, a block of 32 sizeable apartments is already going to be a significant undertaking. However, we also had to consider the fact that the block would be located very close to the water of Gosport Harbour, and so extra care would need to be taken to ensure it was structurally sound, with impermeable foundations that could stand a soaking.
In other words, it was exactly the kind of challenge we’re up to. Read on to see how we approached laying the foundations for 32 apartments at Gosport Harbour, and to see photographs taken of every step of the job.
Every job the Fallon team tackles presents its own unique set of challenges. This is one of the reasons we take so much pride and pleasure in what we do. The Gosport Harbour job in particular was a memorable one due to a number of specific challenges that meant we had to think carefully about our approach.
Proximity to the sea: Doing any construction work near the sea gives a contractor a whole new set of priorities that must be taken into account. For Gosport Harbour, the foundations would have to be surrounded by a reinforced, retaining sea defence wall to keep them safe from unexpected flooding. We used Sika watertight concrete, an impermeable concrete solution that is widely regarded as being the best material to use to ensure watertight construction.
Size of the development: 32 luxury apartments are always going to occupy a considerable amount of space, and when you factor in the fact that we had to incorporate space for a large underground car park measuring 1,400 square metres, you can appreciate how solid the foundations for this building would need to be.
We would need to install a large, underground concrete slab that would form the foundations of the large-scale car park. This done, we would also need to install a podium slab at the level of the floor above. A podium slab is a floor system designed to transfer loads from the structure above to the stronger walls and columns below – as such, it requires extremely strong foundations that are able to take the necessary weight.
In order to lay the foundations for 32 luxury apartments overlooking Gosport Harbour, our first order of business was to install 257 contiguous wall piles. These were necessary to hold back the ground surrounding the site, which would allow excavation work for the basement and the lower foundations to begin in earnest.
Once these piles were in place and the excavation was complete, we began installing continuous flight auger (CFA) bearing piles, which are made by slowly rotating a continuous flight auger to a prescribed depth, and then pumping concrete through the hollow stem. CFA piles are sturdy and strong, but also versatile, as they can be installed in most different types of ground conditions. They are also a cost-effective form of piling – see our explainer on our CFA piling services to learn more.
The CFA piles needed to be sturdy – after all, they were going to be responsible for holding up the concrete slabs! Given the size of the development and how critical it was to get this part right, we contracted an independent, qualified, fully registered piling testing contractor to inspect the CFA piles and ensure that everything was as it should be. We take our responsibilities as constructors extremely seriously, and we knew it was absolutely essential to get independent sign-off on these CFA piles.
Happily, the CFA piles passed the test. Our independent testers gave us the go-ahead that our work was sound, and so it was time to pour the concrete slab, which would form the foundations of the large-scale underground car park for the residents of the 32 flats – with that many flats, you’ve got to have plenty of car space! Of course, there’s more to think about with a car park than simply the floor; we had to ensure accessibility by installing lift cores and stairwell walls, giving residents multiple points of ingress to access their vehicles.
In the car park, we also installed in-situ columns that would help support the ground-floor podium slab. ‘In-situ’ refers to concrete that is prepared, placed and finished on the job site; it is also sometimes referred to as poured-in-place concrete. Once these were in place, we were able install a temporary works soffit system, with adequate handrails for safety.
This would enable us to pour the ground-floor slab that would support the rest of the building – you can see this in more detail in the image gallery at the bottom of this post, as well as in the images throughout.
With solid, secure foundations laid and the concrete slabs in place, Gilkicker had everything they needed to start work on taking the luxury apartments from design to reality.
While Gosport is quite a distance from our usual stomping grounds around Essex and Hertfordshire, projects like this one are more than worth the trip.
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