Concrete Formwork 101

If you are getting ready to take on a project that involves creating a foundation or a set of supports that will utilize concrete as a building material, there are several ins and outs that can determine the success of your project.

Here are some considerations that will provide you with some insight:

You will need to wear many hats: Design, engineering, and construction are three separate parts to the process of moving your project forward. If you don’t feel comfortable or don’t have time to do one or more, consider getting some help from a local contractor to augment the work that you are doing. If you will be creating the architectural design for the foundation or the culvert or the bridge that you are putting up, then ensure that you follow Uniform Building Code guidelines and always measure too much. It is at this point that you will also need to wear an engineer’s hat and worry about things like load and PSI so that the design that you are creating will perform the way that you want it to. Finally, when you are confident in both your design and engineering, you will actually build the project and need to know about materials like horizontal shores and concrete types in order to ensure that your recipe for success is a success.

Over-engineer if the cost isn’t exponential: If you are building a box culvert or a bridge that will allow a car to pass over it, you will find strength ratings in PSI for materials like horizontal shores. In most cases, you will need to figure out different scenarios for vehicles that could pass over the bridge without putting too much weight on the structure. By figuring out the dead weight of the slab that you are pouring on top of the bridge, factoring in a scenario for the heaviest type of vehicle that you want to safely pass, and then adding a percentage of error margin in, you will be able to feel comfortable that your bridge will stand the test of time. You will also order the appropriate grade of materials.

Cost can be mitigated by convenience: If you are stuck making a choice between putting in pre-built forms for a foundation and building your own using wood, you will definitely also want to factor in the amount of labor hours it will take to construct the forms. If you want to speed the project along, it might be better to go with pre-constructed forms and have the cement truck come out pour the entire foundation at once. The cost may be a little bit higher, but you can shave days off of your production schedule depending upon the size of the crew that you are using.

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