Screw Piles & Light Structures = No Brainer for Manitobans

The screw pile industry markets hard that screw piles are cheaper than concrete.  The truth is that screw piles can be used for a wide range of projects and, depending on the soil characteristics, they aren’t always cheaper.

However, here is a bold claim.  Screw piles are cheaper for lightly loaded structures.

It’s a bold claim and I wrestled with myself whether or not it was true.  I determined that when you zoom out and look at the big picture, it’s true for Manitobans every time.  Here is why:

Screw piles for lightly loaded structures are most often cheaper than a concrete sonotube (CIP) or belled (big foot) piles.

 I won’t go as far to say that screw piles will always be cheaper because some concrete companies are willing to price themselves out of business (you’ll find some in the screw pile industry as well).  Also, not all concrete piles are created equal; Yes, a 6 foot deep concrete pile will support your deck but it will not resist frost heave.

Screw pile installation won’t ruin the landscaping or leave an awful mess.

The collateral damage from traditional concrete piling has a cost.  This cost is often overlooked but can range from a few dollars to thousands of dollars.  For some folks, the highest cost is having their yard down for repairs and not available for enjoyment.

Concrete piles often heave when lightly loaded and especially when outside a heated space.

Concrete piles under your home have a very high chance of performing as designed. However, a quick stroll through any of Winnipeg’s new developments and you can’t help but notice cracking on the front steps from heaving.  You will also find a disproportionate amount of frost effected piles under unheated structures like decks and sunrooms.  The reason is simple, concrete is porous and frost forces are strong.

A screw pile for a lightly loaded structure (deck, sunroom, solar farm, etc.) in contrast is small enough to be considered a non-displacement pile which translates into English as a pile with a shaft small enough that the frost forces are negligible compared to the resistance created at the helical blade.  Frost heaved piles are generally very expensive to remedy and most people will just suffer along with a deck or porch they aren’t happy with.

When you consider the big picture, a screw pile of a lightly loaded structure is a no brainer.  Just remember, in the same way that not all concrete piles or companies are equal, not all screw piles or screw pile companies are equal; do your research and you will ensure worry free screw pile foundation for a great value.

 

Posted in Screw Piles, Screw Piles and Decks, Screw Piles and Solar, Screw Piles for Docks, Screw Piles for Porch with Roof, screw piles for sunrooms, Screw Piles in Frozen Soil, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Baeumler Approved Screw Pile Company for Manitoba & Kenora!

Postech Screw Piles – Manitoba and Kenora is Baeumler Approved.  We are very excited and proud to be a part of the Baeumler Approved family.  Our status of Baeumler Approved means we are recognized as striving to meet the same as Bryan Baeumler of quality work and honesty with customers.

We are particularly thrilled because we really like Bryan Baeumler and feel he very much represents a professional Canadian contractor – he does great work while having a great time.

Stan & Bryan Baeumler

Posted in Screw Piles and Decks, Screw Piles and Solar, Screw Piles as Anchors, Screw Piles for Commercial Projects, Screw Piles for Cottages / Cabin, Screw Piles for Docks, Screw Piles for Garages, Screw Piles for Home Additions, Screw Piles for Homes, Screw Piles for ICF Foundations, Screw Piles for Pergola, Screw Piles for Pools, Screw Piles for Porch with Roof, Screw Piles for Sea Containers, Screw Piles for Stairs, Screw Piles for Structural Slabs, screw piles for sunrooms, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Affordable Geotechnical Investigations and Reports for Residential Building Projects in Winnipeg, MB

There is a strong push by local building authorities and engineers to complete geotechnical investigations and reports from which to base structural foundation designs for any residential building project that results in 4 season living space.  This would mean that new home builds, home additions and some sunroom projects will require an investment of thousands of dollars to ensure the foundation is designed according to the soil conditions.

Additional hoops can be frustrating but we all know more than one Winnipegger who has broken the bank dealing with foundation failures due to soil capacities much lower than assumed.  Perhaps building costs were relatively low until recent years and the tradition of engineering based on norms was an acceptable practice.  With the granite countertops, imported tile and fixtures that cost more than a television, the stakes are higher than ever and the authorities feel pressure to enforce higher standards.

Let’s face it, a geotechnical investigation and report, as expensive as they are, is still exponentially cheaper than a foundation failure.

The great news is that Postech Screw Piles Manitoba and NW Ontario now has proprietary technology to efficiently and effectively provide a residential geotechnical investigation and engineered stamped report for half to one quarter of what some local geotechnical engineering firms are charging.

Reports can typically be turned around in 1 to 2 weeks compared the industry standard 4 to 6 week time frame.

And, we can complete the work using small tracked equipment that will leave little if any impacts to your landscaping.

“But is this is a proper soils investigation or a cowboy report using questionable and unproven methods for determining soil capacities?”

NO, our system has been carefully created in partnership with geotechnical and structural engineers.  Although unique and innovative, our process still results in undisturbed soil samples in shelby tubes along with measurements of soil capacities.  Furthermore, our system generates an engineered site-specific formula for correlating pile installation torque to soil capacity as an additional performance predictor.

To learn more about how Postech Screw Piles can help you build faster and better with less headaches, call Dale Plett, B.Sc.Eng., Director of Customer Consultation at 204.793.0653.

Posted in Screw Pile Engineering, Screw Piles for Home Additions, Screw Piles for Homes, screw piles for sunrooms, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Postech Hovercraft Excavator?

Is it true?  Does Postech Screw Piles Manitoba and NW Ontario use hovercraft excavators?

One might think this is the case, however the pictures in the slideshow below show Postech’s installers working hard to make it look like an excavator never crossed over the freshly laid paver patio walkway.

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There are many reasons to choose Postech Screw Piles for your project, our attention to ensuring as little to no impact to your landscape / property is simply one.

For a fast, free and no-obligation estimate call 204.793.0653 or visit http://www.screwpiling.ca.

Posted in Construction, Screw Piles, Screw Piles and Environmental Impacts | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

City of Winnipeg & Screw Piles

In the past month the City of Winnipeg has released an information bulletin regarding their approach to screw piles.  If you click the link below you can download a copy of the bulletin:

http://winnipeg.ca/ppd/pdf_files/InformationBulletins/2016/2016-001-S.pdf 

What should you know about screw piles (augered piles, helical piles, ground anchors, etc.) within the City of Winnipeg?

There is good news and bad news for screw piles in Winnipeg.

The good news is that the City is now paying attention to screw piles and recognizing that they are an effective foundation solution for a wide range of projects.  Also, the City has now recognized the significance of a CCMC report and proper screw pile engineering.  This means company’s offering hand-installed or DIY products which have been able to operate without a CCMC will need to invest in further engineering in order to continue getting permit approvals in 2017.

The bad news is that the City of Winnipeg is still very cautious regarding the use of screw piles and if doing anything beyond a 300 square foot home addition requires geotechnical engineering which means additional costs and time.

It appears that the criteria for engineering is excessive for screw piles but in reality much of the requirements for engineering apply to any pile including concrete.  A home addition built on concrete will still need sealed plans and an engineer’s certification but it wouldn’t require the geotechnical report; this adds a minimum of 1 week to the timeline and a cost of $1,000 or more.

Note that if you have a commercial project,a geotechnical report will be required no matter the piles included in the design.  Therefore, on commercial projects, screw piles, depending on the soil, could be a viable option that won’t create additional hoops to jump through.

In our opinion, overall the City’s information bulletin is a step in the right direction and it is very nice to see some minimum requirements that will set a higher bar which weeds out companies that really aren’t providing a product or installation that is congruent with generally accepted engineering principles for screw piles.

However, the bulletin still lacks guidelines to reflect the local frost penetrations of up to 8 feet; allowing for piles that simply meet the 6 foot National Building Code criteria to be installed.  Screw piles in Manitoba should have a minimum of 8 feet embedment measured to the top of the helical and not simply from the base of the screw pile; anything less will risk failure due to frost heave.

Engineered torque installations should also be a minimum requirement.  The City appreciates rating screw piles based on soil capacities but without torque to confirm capacities, one is simply hoping the soil will provide sufficient bearing strength.  As they say assume makes an “ass” out of “u” and “me” and comprehensive engineer led tests have confirmed time and time again the merits of torque installation for micro piles (screw piles with shaft diameters of 3.5″ or less).

 

If considering the use of screw piles for your project, Postech Screw Piles Manitoba and NW Ontario is here to help you make a solid decision.  We have a CCMC evaluation already and can coordinate matters to satisfy the engineering requirements of any project.  Most importantly, we are well experienced installing screw piles in all areas of the City for a wide range of projects from decks to home additions, garages, commercial structures, footbridges and more.  Armed with our experience we can provide you with a realistic understanding of the costs and benefits or even short-comings of screw piles as they relate to your unique project.

Contact Dale Plett, Director of Customer Consultation at 204.793.0653 or at dale@screwpiling.ca to discuss your project.

Posted in Foundation Repair with Screw Piles, Manitoba Soils and Screw Piles, Piling, retaining walls, Screw Pile Engineering, Screw Piles, Screw Piles and Decks, Screw Piles as Anchors, Screw Piles for Concrete Foundations, Screw Piles for Garages, Screw Piles for Homes, Screw Piles for ICF Foundations, Screw Piles for Pergola, Screw Piles for Porch with Roof, Screw Piles for Stairs, Screw Piles for Structural Slabs, screw piles for sunrooms, Torque Monitored Installation | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Reusable Piles?

Today we had a pretty cool project.  A past customer decided to take their backyard paradise to the next level and required 8 screw piles for their new deck.

The deck which was being replaced with a new grand deck was piled by us only a couple years ago.  The customer asked if we could cut the old piles down so they would no longer be visible; of course we laughed and refused.

“Why wouldn’t we simply uninstall the piles and then reinstall them?”  Our installer proposed.

An hour after the proposal was made, each of the piles had been uninstalled and relocated at a fraction of the cost for 3 new piles, saving our customer hundreds of dollars and putting a great big smile on their face.

We approach every project asking ourselves, “What if this was my mom’s project?  How would I help my mom maximize her value on screw piles?”  We could have made more money on today’s project but that would not have been in the customer’s best interest.

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Postech Fort Frances – CJ Contracting

Claude JodoinPostech Manitoba and NW Ontario is excited to announce that Claude Jodoin of CJ Contracting has officially joined the Postech Screw Piles team as the authorized dealer for the Fort Frances area!

The Fort Frances area includes but is not limited to Fort Frances, Emo, Rainy River, Gameland, Morson, Crow Lake, Nestor Falls, Caliper Lake, Bigsby Island, Big Island, Splitrock Island, Box Alder, Lake of the Woods South East, etc.

Claude established CJ Contracting in 1992 and is quite possibly the friendliest general construction and piling contractor we’ve ever met!  CJ Contracting has been installing screw piles in North West Ontario for more than 10 years with their team completing 2 pile deck projects all the way to 14,000 pile solar farms.

CJ Contracting and Postech Screw Piles are an excellent choice for a wide range of building projects including:

  • Decks and Patios
  • Sunrooms
  • Home Additions
  • New Homes
  • Foundation Repair, Stabilization and Underpinning
  • Garages, Sheds and Pole Barns
  • Camps, Cottages, Cabins, etc.
  • Solar Grids, Solar Farms and Wind Turbines
  • Retaining Walls
  • Septic or Grain Bin Anchoring
  • Docks and Boathouses
  • Concrete Steps, Grade Beams or Structural Slabs
  • Boardwalks and Foot Bridges
  • Fences and Gates
  • Ramps, Stairs and Egress

Claude made the choice to become a Postech Screw Pile dealer for the quality and performance the products offer the residential, recreational, agricultural, light-commercial and light-industrial markets.

For a solid screw pile foundation installed with a smile in the Fort Frances region, call Claude Jodoin of CJ Contracting at 1 (807) 275-6434 or email cjcontracting@live.com.

Posted in Screw Piles, Screw Piles and Corrosion, Screw Piles and Decks, Screw Piles and Environmental Impacts, Screw Piles and Solar, Screw Piles and Trailer Homes, Screw Piles as Anchors, Screw Piles for Commercial Projects, Screw Piles for Concrete Foundations, Screw Piles for Cottages / Cabin, Screw Piles for Docks, Screw Piles for Garages, Screw Piles for Homes, Screw Piles for ICF Foundations, Screw Piles for Light Standards, Screw Piles for Pergola, Screw Piles for Pools, Screw Piles for Porch with Roof, Screw Piles for Sea Containers, Screw Piles for Stairs, Screw Piles for Structural Slabs, screw piles for sunrooms, Screw Piles Fort Frances | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Length Matters to Manitobans

Length may or may not matter depending on the topic of conversation but when it comes to screw piles here in Manitoba length matters a whole lot and some companies offer products that come up short.

First, if you live in Manitoba, you should know that the frost can get as deep as 8 feet and that a frost map of the region puts us just over 7 feet.  The article below by CBC confirms how deep frost has gotten.

http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/manitoba/frost-keeps-pushing-deeper-into-winnipeg-s-frozen-terrain-1.2578740

Without referencing any graphics or a calculator you can assume that a minimum length of 8 feet for a screw pile is required to ensure frost won’t be problematic.  However, there are a couple of things that are often overlooked but that are important considerations.

1:  You have to measure from the top of the helical blade, not the bottom.  

Too many people assume an 8 foot screw pile is good in an 8 foot frost line but I took a measuring tape to a popular DIY ground anchor / screw pile sold at big box stores in Winnipeg and there is a total of 26 inches from the bottom of the screw pile to the top of the helical blade (I drew a quick picture below so I didn’t feature the name brand product).  When you deduct 26 inches from the total 8 foot length, that leaves you with 5 foot – 10 inches.  Interestingly, 5 foot – 10 inches doesn’t meet code anywhere in Canada for screw piles.

DIY Screw Pile Frost

2:  You will require 6 inches of screw pile above grade to allow for ground heave.

Typically a screw pile is installed in thawed ground so it is important to leave approximately 6 inches above grade to allow for ground swell during the winter months.  If you build to grade, the frost can heave the ground and your structure regardless of having been built on piles.  A good rule of thumb is to deduct 6 inches from a screw pile’s total length.

Now, it is very easy to see how screw piles have received mixed reviews in Manitoba regarding their ability to resist frost.  When choosing a screw pile for your project, length matters, ensure the screw piles under your investment have helical blades that are below 8 feet and that there is pile shaft above grade to account for season ground swell.

 

Posted in Manitoba Soils and Screw Piles, Screw Pile Engineering, Screw Piles, Screw Piles in Frozen Soil | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Disadvantage of Helical Screw Piles

Typically we write about the amazing benefits of helical screw piles.  One such benefit we broadcast regularly is in how we monitor the torque during installation to ensure the capacities required are met.  That’s huge when compared to the traditional poured in place concrete pile educated guessing game.

BUT… with every major advantage there is a flip-side.

With a concrete poured in place pile, if the hole doesn’t outright cave-in, concrete is typically pumped into the bore hole and that is considered reasonable.

The issue with helical screw piles is that WE KNOW.  We know what the capacity of the pile is because we can understand a lot about the soil’s capacity in referencing the torque output during installation.  With this knowledge we can’t simply terminate the install, that would be negligent.

The result is that one of 3 options must be chosen based on economics, timelines and efficiency:

  1. Extend the piles in order to install them deeper and into a suitable soil strata;
  2. Install additional piles so that capacities can shared; or
  3. Remove the pile and replace it with a larger pile.

As you may have noted, all of the options above would result in additional costs.

The major disadvantage for a reputable installer of helical screw piles is that they can’t simply provide customers with “all-in pricing”.  Although helical screw piles are more economical in most circumstance, a simple pricing sheet can’t be handed out without footnotes to cover additional expenses related to undesirable and difficult to predict soil conditions.

Postech Screw Piles Manitoba and NW Ontario has installed screw piles throughout our territory and always works on behalf of customers to marry our knowledge of a general area with the selection of  screw piles brought to site.  If you have a geotechnical report, our ability to predict pile sizes and lengths increases exponentially.  However, Manitoba Gumbo is famous because it has proven to be anything but reliable or consistent and even armed with a geotech, surprises can arise.

The good news is that most projects will go off without a hitch and the required loads will be satisfied and usually exceeded.  We have found that ~85% of our customers’ project invoices reflect the exact amounts which were estimated.

Although the odd project will mean an invoice which exceeds the estimate, those who choose helical screw piles will have the peace of mind that the money invested in piling will mean a solid, problem-free foundation for generations to come.

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Death to Soil Assumptions

Did you know that there is a good chance your home, sunroom, cottage or deck has been built on a foundation designed using soil assumptions?

What exactly is a soil assumption?  In Manitoba (and most other places) many of the new residential and cottage country structures are resting on foundations (concrete or steel) designed to established norms.  Often in Winnipeg an assumption that the soil’s capacity will be 1,500 psf (~75 kPa) is a standard.

For example, if you purchase a ground anchor / screw pile from a local Manitoba building centre it will likely be approved to support your deck because it has been engineered for a specified capacity.  But when you look at the engineering there is fine-print that might say something like – “5,000lbs capacity in 1,500 psf soil, contact engineer to recalculate loading if other soil capacity.”  Clearly in this example, a building official who approves a permit based on the DIY 5,000lbs rated screw pile is making an assumption that the soil will be 1,500 psf or greater.

What’s alarming about the way its been done for so long is that MANITOBA SOILS ARE ANYTHING BUT PREDICTABLE.

Our company has done two things over the past 5 years that have helped us come to the conclusion that soil assumptions need to be brought round back and shot:

  1. We’ve reviewed a ton of geotechnical reports and commissioned many geotechnical investigations in and around Winnipeg.
  2. We have 5 years experience monitoring torque while installing screw piles in the area and there is a proven empirical relationship between torque and soil capacity.

At a 10 foot depth we have encountered 24 kPa soils to 250 kPa soils around Winnipeg and from our experience, 75 kPa soil is at the high end of average.  We have not necessarily found an obvious reason for  poor soil capacity either.  You might think, “we aren’t close to the river, our soil must be good”, you’re thinking logically but you could be very wrong from our experience.

I hate to gamble, I simply don’t like to leave things to chance – especially when I’m investing hard-earned money!

Want to learn about HOW SCREW PILES CAN BE INSTALLED WITHOUT SOIL ASSUMPTIONS?  Check out this technical brief:  http://www.manitobascrewpiles.ca/wp-content/uploads/2013/12/Technical-Brief-Torque-Installation-of-Screw-Piles-Limits-Liability.pdf 

 

 

Posted in Screw Pile Engineering, Torque Monitored Installation, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment