Not many construction projects have the luxury of an open-ended time frame for completion, and in fact most projects have an understandably tight schedule which has to be observed. In construction, as in virtually all businesses, time is money, and this is especially true when all other tradesmen and contractors are waiting for the foundation of a structure to be installed. In many cases, a helical pile foundation can greatly reduce the time-to-build.
At most times in the past, there was literally no choice but to wait for a concrete foundation to be excavated, poured, and to dry before all other tasks associated with building construction could get underway. However, that model is changing more and more these days, as the advantages of a helical pile foundation become more universally known and understood.
When are Helical Piers Faster?
First and foremost, helical foundations are almost always installed more quickly than other piling methods such as caissons or driven piles. While some common applications include support for bridges, boardwalks and industrial piping, engineers are constantly coming up with new ways to use helical piles as a time-saving alternative. Particularly useful for construction in wetland or flood-prone area, replacing a concrete foundation with helical piles can shave weeks and even months off a project.
One of the biggest advantages, especially for light industrial, temporary or above-ground structures, is the speed at which a foundation can be installed using helical piles.
How do Helical Piles Save Time?
Right from the very first step, helical piles save valuable time in the implementation of a foundation. No large excavating equipment is needed for the installation of the piles themselves, so as soon as engineers have tested the soil to determine the degree of anchoring which will be needed. A helical pile foundation can be screwed directly into the ground with machine-mounted hydraulics or machinery fitted with electrical drilling equipment. Almost any type of soil or ground is suitable for helical piles, other than bedrock itself, so virtually all locations are acceptable.
An aspect of helical pile installation which shouldn’t be overlooked is the actual installation itself. As piles are being augured into the ground, the rotation rate ranges anywhere from 6 to 10 rpm, which allows progress to proceed at roughly 2 feet per minute. That means that an anchoring requirement going 50 feet deep could be completed in less than an hour. Once all piles are in place, they can be used for load-bearing immediately, as opposed to having to wait up to a month for concrete to be cured, or grout to become dry.
At the end of installation, there’s also no major cleanup to be done, as there might be with any other kind of foundation installation. Installing helical piles is a very clean operation, which minimally impacts the surrounding environment, and does not require that excess soil be carted away in trucks to some other location. This itself saves an entire step which would be necessary in a major excavation, which in turn reduces the overall time needed to complete the foundation.
How do Helical Piles Keep Costs Down?
The bottom line is that when helical piers are used to anchor a new structure, there is no waiting for other construction processes to begin. Unless concrete footings or grade beams need to be poured, other aspects of construction can begin on the same day that piers have been secured. It would be hard to over-estimate the impact this can have on any kind of new construction project, since so much time is saved by the speed of installation, and the immediate readiness for subsequent contracting tasks.
Keeping costs down on a construction project can be the difference-maker on how profitable it is, and one of the most important ways that costs can be effectively managed is by reducing the overall time frame necessary for completion. There are several other very important advantages to adopting the installation of a helical piers over some other process for foundation installation, but when you’re thinking about your project’s bottom line, speed is one of the most compelling reasons.
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