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drilled pier foundation

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We are working on a single story retail renovation in the greater Houston,
TX area. The latest renovation plans indicated drilled pier foundations for
all support of all columns. The notation says that 12/36 denotes shaft
diameter/ bell diameter. I have not designed one of these before, but I did
a little research, and I guess this means the main shaft diam.=12", and then
it flares out into a "bell" at the bottom to 36". From my research , these
types of foundations are used in clay or cohesive soils, which I have heard
mainly from this list is a big problem in Tejas. The plans do not indicate
an embedment. The continuous footings that support the masonry infill are
not labeled, and  we are missing that detail sheet that shows the sections.
So I do not know how they are designed or built. There also are no
geotechnical or general foundation notes on the plans.

Do you  think they used this found. system because of clay? Can anyone
theorize what is going on here and why they may have done that?

Our renovations do not affect the loads on the drilled shafts, and we are
not adding any new columns that will require this type of found. BUT, we are
adding CMU infill walls and I need to know at least something about the soil
to design the cont. wall footings, and to properly call out notes on the
plans. I am more then likely going to ask for geotech on this job just to
confirm that our cont. wall footings are ok.

Thinking ahead, are non-bearing CMU walls built on cont. ftgs. on this type
of soil even if the columns are drilled shafts? It appears that was done on
this job.


Andrew D. Kester, EI
Structural Engineer
Bentley Architects & Engineers
665 W. Warren Ave.
Longwood, FL 32750

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