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Building on clay

3034 Views 2 Replies 3 Participants Last post by  Willie T
Looking for advice about building on clay, Is this possible? I'm building a 16x16 sauna /change room / porch and It has to be cheap so we were going to go with railroad ties, the entire property is deep (at least 5 feet) clay so there is no way around this. If this is possible how do we go about preparing the ground. Someone suggested putting the ties on cinder blocks so when it inevitably shifts it would be easier to shim, not sure about this but any suggestion is good at this point.
Look forward to any input.
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Around my area, new railroad ties are pretty expensive. I don't know what you are planning to use the railroad ties for, your post gives no hint about the design of your structure, but conventional construction in Massachusetts for such a building would involve sonotubes filled with concrete for supports, then framing elements (2x10, 2x12 depending on span), with conventional framing.

There is no problem installing sonotubes on clay, provided the clay is sufficiently strong. Again, you give no hint about the type of clay, strength of the clay, moisture conditions, so there is little I can say about your case. However, most clays I have worked with are adequately strong to support a lightly loaded building such as you describe on sonotubes. There are ways to test the strength of the clay, which I could describe if you provide more details about your design.
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