Case Study

QuickBase Clay Soils

The Project

Subsidence and heave affect millions of homes in Britain, with almost 1 million in the highest-risk category. With extreme weather conditions becoming more common, the numbers affected are expected to rise. The areas with the highest risk of subsidence and heave are Colchester, South London, Bristol and Glasgow. Within the M25, 40% of all postcodes are classified as being at risk of subsidence or heave. These issues are often made more prominent through adjacent trees which abstract large amounts of water from the surrounding soil which increases the shrinkage rate.

Clay heave

Some clay soils change their volume in relation to their water content. They shrink as they become drier and expand as they become wetter. They act like a sponge. Some types of clay shrink and expand more than other types. Builders should always take the soil conditions into account when designing a building but rarely do.

The NHBC advise you provide a void under floors to accommodate heave where required along with the use of heave protection to protect the foundation from volume change of the soil. If a foundation is constructed as a concrete slab, then there is a high risk that it will move when the soil volume changes. 

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