Having a sturdy foundation is the key to building a beautiful and functional house. However, many wonder whether belts should be built if the soil in the plot is firm. Meanwhile, some others are confused whether belts should be constructed along the area of the foundation or the width of the walls of the structure. Most people believe that building a belt over the foundation constructed on soil that is not firm would make the house sturdier. This, however, is a false belief. Similarly, people think that there is no need for a belt if the foundation is built on firmer soil or on rocks. However, experts dismiss this too.
The main function of a belt is to transfer the weight of the superstructure including slab and the walls equally to the foundation. A belt alone cannot increase the bearing capacity of the soil. Besides, a belt is a damp-proof course that protects the walls from moisture.
The moisture might spread onto the walls through the capillary action beneath the soil. It might also happen as the foundation gets wet due to insufficient sunshade space. Moisture might also seep in through the tiles in the bathrooms. No matter how the moisture attacks, it affects the layer right beneath the floor. This would eventually weaken this layer and losses its capacity to carry weight. Adding a belt on the foundation is the best solution to prevent that.
The plates in the earth’s interiors keep moving owing to various reasons. Such movements may affect the strength of the foundation and cause cracks on it. If belts are built above the foundation, then these cracks would not spread to the superstructure. However, these belts do not have the strength to withstand massive earthquakes like the one that razed Bhuj in Gujarat.
Earthquakes are not the only reason for the movement of plates. Houses that are built on the side of highways often ‘shiver’ when huge tankers or containers lorries pass. Besides, cracks are formed on the walls of the houses that are built close to railway lines.
Churches and temples that are known for massive fireworks during festivals have cracks on the structure. Such cracks could be found on houses close to quarries too. Vibrations could be felt on the structure when rocks are blasted in the nearby quarries.
The belt should be in the width of the walls. Usually, there is no need to build belts that have more than four-inch thickness. However, make sure to cross-check the measurements of the rooms while doing the centring for belts.
Belts could be built in one feet thickness or along the area of the basement. Even though it is not going to give additional protection to the structure, it is not going to cause any harm. But, the corners of the belt could cause problems when the bathroom floor is built at a lower level. So, in the areas where the bathrooms come, the belt needs to be built only in the width of the walls. Building belts are essential while constructing houses as it ensures sturdiness to the foundation and the structure.