25 November 2023

Laying foundations in bad weather

By Self Build Zone
Laying foundations bad weather

As winter is fast approaching, the prospect of laying the foundations for a self-build house, house extension, or conversion can seem particularly daunting. Conventional wisdom might suggest that warmer, drier months are ideal for such undertakings. However, with the right preparation and insight, it’s feasible to press on even when the elements aren’t in your favour.

Fighting off frosty temperatures or unpredictable downpours requires meticulous planning, understanding the unique challenges presented, and employing specialised techniques to ensure the foundation remains solid and stable. This article delves into the best practices and precautions for construction endeavours during less-than-optimal weather conditions.

Braving the elements!

Heavy rainfall can adversely affect freshly laid concrete, potentially washing away some cement content. This alters the surface consistency, making it softer and compromising the concrete’s overall strength.

In addition to rain, the impact of cold temperatures on construction projects shouldn’t be overlooked. Remember, temperatures can dip below freezing even as we approach spring, leading to frosty conditions. Such sub-zero temperatures can hinder the concrete laying process. However, with meticulous planning and expert advice, you can navigate these challenges and establish robust foundations for your self-build, regardless of the weather conditions.

Colder weather

The biggest potential problem you could face during winter and spring builds is that the concrete could freeze, causing the surface to crack or be uneven. This could also happen during the concrete curing process when the concrete temperature needs to be maintained for around 48 hours to ensure optimal strength. So don’t forget, even when temperatures are optimal during the day, they can drop at night, so adding a heated enclosure may be a good investment.

When it rains, can you pour? (concrete)

Many ask, “Is pouring ready-mix concrete during the rain safe?” While it’s entirely feasible, it’s typically best to avoid such conditions. Rain can introduce complications, but this doesn’t necessarily derail your plans if you take the suitable precautions.

What if it starts raining whilst I am pouring concrete into foundations?

Problems such as concrete cracks and a delay in curing time can result from working in the rain. However, there are *precautions that can be taken to ensure rain doesn’t affect your pour:

  • Check the weather forecast before pouring the concrete and prepare accordingly if you are pouring it independently.
  • If there’s rain expected and you’re having a professional do the job, you can ask your concrete layer how they will be prepared for this.
  • Cover with tarpaulins or waterproof covers that cover the area to be poured. Keep these on standby and apply as each area is ready to leave for curing.
  • Push any surface water off the edge of the slab, then cover it with a large tarp or similar
  • If it rains straight after the concrete is poured, act promptly to ensure the whole area is covered.
  • And remember, it can take up to 28 days to fully cure (‘dry’); however, it continues to cure indefinitely throughout its lifespan.

Winter’s arrival and the challenges it brings, such as frost, rain, and fluctuating temperatures, undeniably introduce complexities to construction processes. The process of laying the foundations for a self-build house or extension isn’t straightforward when faced with unpredictable weather conditions. Yet, as discussed, it is not an impossible task. The key lies in meticulous preparation, understanding specific weather-related challenges, and having backup plans in place.

With the right guidance, tools, and a proactive mindset, one can navigate the weather’s unpredictability, ensuring a robust foundation that stands the test of time. Whether you’re a seasoned builder or a homeowner embarking on a new project, weather-proofing your construction process cannot be emphasised enough. After all, the foundation you lay today will bear the weight of your dreams tomorrow.

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This article first appeared on the Self-Build Zone website in 2020 and has been updated here.

References: *https://everreadymix.co.uk/news/tips-on-pouring-concrete-in-the-rain/

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