Building up foundation for shed/shop - The Combine Forum
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post #1 of 19 (permalink) Old 05-22-2019, 06:42 PM Thread Starter
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Building up foundation for shed/shop

Hi guys,

I'm working on designing a new bin yard at the moment. Will be putting up a cold storage shed within the next 5 years which will likely be divided into shop/cold storage eventually. With my current design, the best location for the shed to go would span over an existing ditch with an elevation 3 to 4 feet below what I would like the elevation of the shed floor to be. Will be fairly easy to re-direct the water flow, and also pretty easy to find material to build the area up. The part i'm uncertain about is if it would be necessary to scrape back the top soil to get to clay, or if I could start adding material right on the top soil. The dirt I am in is pretty notoriously shifty, but if I had to scrape back the total area of where the concrete would go i'd need substantially more clay.

Possible? or would it be better to come up with a design that includes a higher starting elevation for the shed?

Edit: I should ad that the building itself will probably go on screw piles, so the only thing the base would be holding up would be the concrete.


Last edited by thorens; 05-22-2019 at 06:45 PM.
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post #2 of 19 (permalink) Old 05-22-2019, 06:52 PM
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That's a tricky one. Black dirt will pack just as hard as anything else in many cases so should be fine to put clay over it. Maybe your dirt isn't black though...ha ha. I think the main thing is that once built there is good surface drainage around the building and area, if it's dry there will be way less issues. Keep in mind a LOT of water comes off the roof of a larger pole shed.

I have one pole shed that had shallow post burial and during some recent wet years half the building is frost-jacking upward probably 6" or more. Another pole shed with good deep burial located on a high spot hasn't moved an inch. In the future I will seriously consider tiling the area if I am unsure of soil or moisture conditions before I build.

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post #3 of 19 (permalink) Old 05-22-2019, 07:12 PM
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If you look at an professional building or roads they always scrape the topsoil off. You can't compact black dirt like good clay, just scrape it off and build it good and high. I have tried a small area like what your describing and it turned to a frost boil and pushed the black dirt up.
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post #4 of 19 (permalink) Old 05-22-2019, 07:19 PM
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We built a new barn last year and dealt with a similar situation, had a 2-3ft deep drainage ditch cutting through the middle of where we wanted to build. We stripped all the top soil from the whole pad area and built it up with clay. In our experience there's very little top soil left in the ditch bottoms, you scrape most of the top soil away when you cut the ditch in the first place. In my opinion, if you know you have some shifty ground I wouldn't be trying to skimp on the dirt work. We hauled in our clay in thin layers thoroughly packing every layer, the base was so hard that the poor plumbers were swinging pick-axes and hitting chisels to put in our under-floor plumbing because their mini-excavator couldn't do anything to the packed clay. Every spring and after every rain you'll never regret spending the little extra on going wider/deeper/higher/better-packed/more gravel/etc.

"Though the fig trees have no blossoms, and there are no grapes on the vine. Though the olive crop fails, and the fields lie empty and barren. Though the flocks die in the fields, and the cattle barns lie empty. Yet I will rejoice in the Lord, I will be joyful in the God of my salvation." Habakkuk 3:17-18
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post #5 of 19 (permalink) Old 05-22-2019, 07:34 PM Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by TeenageFarmer View Post
We built a new barn last year and dealt with a similar situation, had a 2-3ft deep drainage ditch cutting through the middle of where we wanted to build. We stripped all the top soil from the whole pad area and built it up with clay. In our experience there's very little top soil left in the ditch bottoms, you scrape most of the top soil away when you cut the ditch in the first place. In my opinion, if you know you have some shifty ground I wouldn't be trying to skimp on the dirt work. We hauled in our clay in thin layers thoroughly packing every layer, the base was so hard that the poor plumbers were swinging pick-axes and hitting chisels to put in our under-floor plumbing because their mini-excavator couldn't do anything to the packed clay. Every spring and after every rain you'll never regret spending the little extra on going wider/deeper/higher/better-packed/more gravel/etc.
How many yards of clay did you end up hauling in? I'm thinking i'll end up needing around 2500 yards for the whole project. The clay itself is pretty cheap and abundant but getting it hauled won't be cheap.
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post #6 of 19 (permalink) Old 05-22-2019, 07:47 PM
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How many yards of clay did you end up hauling in? I'm thinking i'll end up needing around 2500 yards for the whole project. The clay itself is pretty cheap and abundant but getting it hauled won't be cheap.
We have a very unique set-up compared to most guys in that we have 3 gravel pits on the same 1/2 section as our yard and we own the pit right behind our yard plus we have a really good relationship with the gravel company running it. So we got the clay fill for free and hired them by the hour to haul/spread/pack it which still was quite cheap being the pile was maybe 600ft from the pad. Don't know the exact amount of yards we put it down but the pad was 180x300ft and we built it up probably an average of 2ft, which would come out to around 4000yds of clay.

"Though the fig trees have no blossoms, and there are no grapes on the vine. Though the olive crop fails, and the fields lie empty and barren. Though the flocks die in the fields, and the cattle barns lie empty. Yet I will rejoice in the Lord, I will be joyful in the God of my salvation." Habakkuk 3:17-18
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post #7 of 19 (permalink) Old 05-22-2019, 10:06 PM
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My brother is a road, lease, (dirt) consultant in the oil patch. He oversees alot of roadwork and such every year. When i built my bin yard he told me to get all the top soil out. Under a building there is too much organic matter and it will eventually break down and give you a soft spot if you can ever get it packed. In the middle of a yard if you cover top soil with clay after a few years the top soil will work its way up and you yard will always be greasy when its wet and no amount of gravel will fix it. So if you don't move the topsoil out put some geotec fabric down to keep it under the ground. Rent a crows foot packed and pack and pack and pack some more, it will save you so so much gravel.
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post #8 of 19 (permalink) Old 05-22-2019, 10:49 PM
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Tile!

I have built a lot in my yard over the last 10 yrs. Last 2 yrs have been dry, and we are actually seeing issues now. I believe what happens it the water table pushes up through the ground as is drys and cracks. I am now planning to run some tile in front of some bins and around some buildings.

Brent.
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post #9 of 19 (permalink) Old 05-22-2019, 10:56 PM
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Dont build on top soil. Scrap it off and make sure all the soil below the building is the same or consistant. Hopefully the soil has several months of rain and weather to rebound once you move it before you build on it.
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post #10 of 19 (permalink) Old 05-22-2019, 11:25 PM
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Yes, strip off the top soil. It doesn't need to be 100% clean, but until the clay starts showing through. When filling with clay, make sure it is packed very well, if you don't it won't be any better than building on the dirt. Have anywhere close by you could dig a borrow pit for clay? Everyone needs a place to bury things later on!


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