What are caissons?
Caissons and caisson shoring are a type of deep foundation that is used to protect and support a home or commercial building. Caissons are incredibly important in the construction of buildings in the Greater Los Angeles area, which is known for violent earthquakes. In Los Angeles, even moderate seismic activity can literally toss a structure off its foundation, and this is why Caissons are a brilliant way to secure the foundation of hillside homes or any type of a structure that is built on an “active” soil such that it can sink or slide (e.g., during an earthquake, mudslide, or landslide).
Why are caissons important?
Caissons and drilled piers are essential for homes built on hillsides. Not only do steel caissons keep buildings safe, but in doing so, they can help keep everyone living or working inside of them safe as well. Here is another way of looking at it: piles and caissons are so strong that they are used to support the weight of cars and trucks that drive on freeways!
Because caissons are built deep into the ground, when the soil around the building starts moving, for example due to seismic activity, the building will not move with it. Again, if caissons are used to hold up bridges and freeways, think about how much support your home or building will have if it is protected by caissons!
How are caissons made?
Caissons are generally made by pouring mixed concrete and reinforcing steel into drilled shafts. At first, the caisson steel cage is fabricated on-site, above ground level, and then lifted in the air and placed, along with added support, into a shaft drilled through soil and rock in the ground. Once the caissons are in their dug shafts, they are ready for concrete to be poured in. These shafts are of a predetermined diameter and drilled by the caisson contractor to a depth which varies, depending on the location and how deep the bedrock is under the building. For example, sometimes bedrock is found at only a foot below the ground, while in other areas it can be up to 15 feet deep, and sometimes even deeper. However, caissons go even deeper because they are drilled 2-5 feet into the bedrock.
Are caissons expensive?
The price for caissons can vary depending on the expertise of the construction company that is building them, as well as whether the construction company has the right equipment and materials on-hand. Not all Los Angeles construction companies can build caissons, and those contractors who are experienced in building caissons often provide customers with a better price.
Ask yourself a simple question: if your LA “Earthquake Country” home or commercial property is on a hillside in an area prone to mudslides or landslides (which are very likely to happen when you live on, or close to, a hillside), wouldn’t you rather have this building protected by caissons drilled into solid rock, or do you want to “chance it” without caissons?
Weinstein Construction professionals are expert caisson builders, and can design caissons to fit all budgets! Call Angela today at (800) 862-6582 for a free inspection and review of your caisson needs!