Whether decorative or structural, a column must be placed on a firm foundation or footing to distribute the weight load and avoid disastrous collapse of the structure it is supporting. The footings supporting posts under a deck or columns on a front porch must comply with local building code specifications.
Where the building is placed is an important factor in how the structure is erected. The depth required for footing placement depends on climate, soil type, possibility of flooding and the depth of winter ground freeze. In the northeastern U.S., where winters can be harsh, footings must be placed below the frost line, which can be four to five feet in depth.
Local building codes will specify the depth and dimension your footings must be. Your local lumberyard or building inspector can provide the information required so your column will be structurally sound and pass inspection or if your house is subject to scrutiny during a real estate transaction.
Scope of Project
If you are installing fewer than three to four columns to a depth of less than three feet, you can dig footings by hand with a spade and/ or post hole digger. Consider hiring an excavator for trench excavation in nondraining clay soils where tile drain may be required to drain water away. Trucked in redi-mix is cost effective and a time-saving alternative to mixing your own cement if you have more than three or four footings to pour.
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