Towards an effective approach for foundation problems: knowledge agenda in view

Published: 19 November 2021

In recent years, there has been a sharp rise in awareness of foundation problems in the Netherlands, with the drought of recent years playing an important role. Although a lot is already known about the problems relating to foundations and how to tackle them, at the same time there is still a lot to learn. A new report from TNO and Deltares commissioned by the Netherlands Enterprise Agency (RVO) and the Ministry of Internal Affairs, 'Towards a knowledge agenda for foundation problems', explains the scope and nature of the problem in the Netherlands and gives an initial outline of a knowledge agenda for an effective approach to the problem.

Foundation problems affect many parties. First of all, property owners, who are themselves responsible for the foundations. However, remedying foundation problems is often a complex and expensive business. In addition, it is often difficult for individual owners themselves to do anything to prevent damage. Government authorities can facilitate the repair process and sometimes the prevention of damage. To tackle the problem effectively, an overview is needed of exactly where which type of foundation problem occurs, how fast the deterioration progresses and what the determinants are.


Facts and knowledge questions relating to foundation problems

In the report (in Dutch only), TNO and Deltares elaborate on what is actually known about the magnitude and distribution of foundation problems in the Netherlands. They provide an initial outline of knowledge questions that we can address together for an effective approach to foundation problems.

Foundation problems: major damage in the entire country

The available studies and reports covering the magnitude of the problem in the Netherlands are not entirely clear. Nevertheless, although the assessments of the magnitude of the problem in the studies vary, and despite large margins of uncertainty, all of the studies without exception state that there is major damage and show that there are problems with foundations throughout the country. The nature and cause of foundation problems differ depending on the region. The consensus is that the problem will become more severe, in part as a result of climate change. There is a large spread in the expected damage in different studies: from 5 – 60 billion euros between now and 2050. Experts in the field believe that the actual damage in that period 2050 will amount to 20 to 30 billion euros, on condition that measures are taken to prevent damage as much as possible.

Further knowledge development could focus on, among other things, learning more about local effects. And also on a better fundamental understanding of damage mechanisms, the monitoring of the deterioration of foundations and of the effect of measures, and the further development of prevention measures and repair methods.