How to improve ground for building sites

In our previous article, we looked at what makes ground unsuitable for construction, but what is the solution if you encounter soils unsuitable for building work?

There are some precautions and preparatory steps you can take to improve ground for building sites, and to ensure that work can proceed safely and on schedule.

Lifting equipment

Lifting equipment such as mobile cranes can be highly susceptible to shifting ground, due to the equipment’s high centre of gravity.

Three ‘best practice’ options can compensate for this by stabilising heavy plant and extending its area of contact with the ground to prevent toppling:

  • Timber mats to spread pressure beneath the vehicle and outrigger pads to spread the load under each additional support point
  • Improvements to the ground layer, e.g. by removing soft material and replacing with a compacted stone layer reinforced by geogrid
  • Reducing the load on the ground by choosing lighter vehicles or transporting smaller loads at any one time

This last measure represents a final compromise, in the event that the previous two steps have been unable to improve the ground bearing capacity sufficiently.

However, timber mats and outrigger pads are likely to be the easiest initial option, as they can be laid in place in a matter of minutes and immediately spread the load, with no interference required with the soil beneath.

Hard surfaces

Just because a building site has a hard surface, such as paving or tarmac, it does not mean that the ground can withstand heavy loads.

In fact, many car parks and other hard surfaces can consist of a relatively thin top layer over several inches of hardcore.

Driving heavy plant on to the surface unprotected could result in the tyres or tracks of a crane vehicle breaking through, leaving costly repair work and putting the vehicle at risk of falling over.

Ground protection mats are a good way to reduce this risk, simply by spreading the load over a larger area, as this can reduce the pressure forces exerted on any one small space.

We have timber bog mats available to hire or buy, so you can find a solution that works for you. To find out how we can help, contact Timbermat today on 08000 12 12 31 or by emailing

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