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Old 11-18-2016, 07:26 AM   #1
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Question On Footings For Pillars/wall


Got a project I'm doing on my own house in between other work I'm doing. I'm in CT between zone5/zone 6. First time I'm doing a stone wall, I typically do a lot of fireplaces, veneer facings, etc. and I have bit of an odd setup here with an existing platform.

Here is what I'm working with:


So basically I have an existing platform and I'm looking to turn it into something like this, a proper masonry wall, using 8in thick limestone blocks that are glued together using a glue provided by the manufacturer of the stone



Essentially the walls would come up in front of the platform, that way I don't have to face it with something, and then I'd connect them to the pillars on either side. The front of the pillars would sit on the ground while the back of the pillar would be on the platform and the stone would just wrap around the posts. I'd then build steps in between the pillars.

The platform itself would be covered with 12x24x7/8 natural stone.

Now, my questions are:

1) Do I need to pour a concrete footing for the walls on either side? The company I'm buying the stone from said concrete footing isn't entirely necessary as long as I dig deep enough and have a good compacted base of gravel. The frost line here is 42in.

2) I plan to pour footings for the two pillars. If frost line is 42in, should I go down to 48in to be safe?

3) Do I need to pour a base for the steps, or can I go down 48in and fill it with gravel? The steps will just be two large slabs of coping laid on top of pavers.

4) What if I dug across the entire length of the existing platform (18ft) down 48in, and filled it all up with gravel to use as the base for the wall + pillars + steps instead of pouring footings?
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Old 11-18-2016, 07:46 AM   #2
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Re: Question On Footings For Pillars/wall


While it probably isn't necessary as they aren't carrying a ton of weight, you will spend about as much time and effort to prep for crushed stone as you would just digging for the footer and pour concrete.
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Old 11-18-2016, 07:59 AM   #3
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Re: Question On Footings For Pillars/wall


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While it probably isn't necessary as they aren't carrying a ton of weight, you will spend about as much time and effort to prep for crushed stone as you would just digging for the footer and pour concrete.
Thanks. My only concern is if I did crushed stone, and the pillars end up shifting since half of the pillar will be on the ground, while the back half will be on the existing platform.
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Old 11-18-2016, 10:06 PM   #4
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Re: Question On Footings For Pillars/wall


I certainly agree with what Windows said and if it was my project I would definitely put in footers instead of using the crushed stone. Especially, as you mentioned that part of the columns will be on the existing platform and the other half not. I would definitely want both sides to be supported the same way.
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Old 11-19-2016, 12:02 PM   #5
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Re: Question On Footings For Pillars/wall


well I dug my base today, went down 3 feet. put a jumping jack in and compacted it best I could. I noticed when I began walking around it was very spongey, almost like the jumping jack forced either water out of the soil, or air into the soil. I put down about 2inches of gravel on top and tried compacting that, but it made no difference, it was still spongey everywhere I walked.

What should I do now? Dig even deeper than I already have, or let this air our/dry out until it can be compacted?
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Old 11-19-2016, 02:20 PM   #6
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Re: Question On Footings For Pillars/wall


Its construction backfill. It won't be uncompacted until you get down to the footers of the walls in many cases.
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Old 11-20-2016, 09:57 AM   #7
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Re: Question On Footings For Pillars/wall


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Its construction backfill. It won't be uncompacted until you get down to the footers of the walls in many cases.
Not entirely sure about that to be honest -- I dug down about 1 foot about 3 feet over from that area (not against the foundation) and that soil compacts just fine....so you're saying along the foundation where we dug the trench it's not compacting because of the backfill that was used? If so, the footer of the wall is over 8 feet down and I obviously can't go that deep just to put in this block wall. What's the recommended solution for this? Should I line the bottom of the trench with filter fabric and put in 1-1/4 stone 6in deep, compact, then another layer of filter fabric and a layer of 3/4 process?

Honestly at a loss here as I've never seen soil do this before.
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Old 11-20-2016, 01:00 PM   #8
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Re: Question On Footings For Pillars/wall


Here is a video of the problem:
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Old 11-25-2016, 07:33 AM   #9
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Re: Question On Footings For Pillars/wall


For anyone wondering what we did to correct this problem, or for anyone who may run into this issue in the future.

Dug all this up including the gravel down another foot, soil was still the same, wet & soggy clay that won't compact.

Did a bunch of research, turns out lime is occasionally used for roadways and foundations when the soil is clay and extremely wet. I bought some lime and threw it down and raked it into the trench, and the soil did in fact begin to dry out and become more manageable than it was before.

Next, I bought geotextile fabric and laid it down across the entire base of the trench, and back filled up 36in with 3/4 stone, compacting every few inches. For the top 6 inches I put down 3/4 process, and compacted it along the way. The entire area is now perfectly stable (almost like cement) and it is ready for putting down the block wall I am building.
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Old 11-25-2016, 08:12 AM   #10
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Re: Question On Footings For Pillars/wall


Thanks for the follow up. You definitely has a bunch of moisture in that stuff.
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