Andrew WilliamsParty Wall

UNDERPINNING FOUNDATIONS, Building Regulations, Party Wall Notices and CDM.

Underpinning foundations is structural work and notifiable under the Building Regulations. You must make an application to the building control authority in all cases, without exception.

If the underpinning works are to be carried out adjacent or in close proximity to another existing building, you need to ensure the requirements of the Party Wall Act 1996 by issuing Section 6 Notices to the adjoining owner. (Or instruct your Party Wall Surveyor to issue them on your behalf.)

There may also be a need to carry out structural repairs or strengthening work to the superstructure. Such works should be designed and specified by a structural engineer or a specialist structural repair company.

Mass concrete underpinning foundations

The most common method is traditional mass concrete underpinning – a simple technique that involves excavating a segment of ground below the existing building foundation in controlled stages, to a depth where suitable bearing strata exists.

The excavation is then filled with concrete and allowed to cure before the next ‘pin’ is excavated. To transfer the building load safely to the new pin, a dry sand cement packing mortar is rammed in between the new and old foundation.

This method is low cost and suitable for shallow depth underpinning. Work can be carried out from one side of the wall and in areas of difficult and restricted access. It is suitable for heavy foundation loads and massive structures and for the formation of new cellars and basements beneath existing buildings.

The mass concrete technique cannot be adopted in all cases. Other techniques will be required to overcome difficulties with groundwater, lose ground or fill.

In order to ensure that the right technique is used, the decision to use traditional mass concrete underpinning has been made by a competent person such as an experienced structural engineer.

Where foundation movement has been caused by ground heave, (such as moisture recovery of clay soils following removal or decay of a tree) the underpinning scheme should incorporate appropriate anti-heave protection.

Underpinning piles may require special design consideration and incorporate reinforcement over their entire length.

Underpinning works are required to comply with the Construction, Design & Management Regulations (CDM). The Client and appointed contractor are required to enforce a suitable health and safety policy for the underpinning operations.

The measures required to comply with the CDM Regulations may determine the nature of the proposed underpinning works.

The majority of reputable underpinning contractors offer a 12-year defects insurance guarantee that applies to underpinning, mini piling and foundation works. This is operated by the Association of Specialist Underpinning Contractors. A list of its members is available from www.asuc.org.uk



on behalf of Andrew R Williams & Associates Ltd

Chartered Surveyors / Commercial Energy Assessors


Chartered Surveyors

Home Inspectors

Commercial Energy Assessors

Party Wall Surveyors



0151 426 9660 – 01744 644042 – 01925 670447 – 0161 956 2358