A batter board is a board set up at a specific location on a building site to assist construction crews with orientation of foundations, structures, and other features. Batter boards are commonly used in excavations to outline foundations, but they have other uses as well. Construction crews can create them from timber or use reusable products that can be quickly and easily installed at a job site. These products are available through hardware and home improvement stores as well as manufacturers.
Layout of batter boards requires measuring equipment and levels to precisely position each batter board in the right place. Once boards are in place the crew has to be careful about knocking into them, as this could knock them out of kilter. This can be a problem when they are being used to square off a foundation, as the foundation might be pushed out of alignment. The issue may only be apparent as the crew starts to frame and build, and realizes that the foundation is slightly out of balance.
Setting up batter boards takes time. The construction crew needs to perform some careful measurements to position each board in the right place and to make sure it is set at the right height. One use for batter boards is in the delineation of survey lines around a property to situate a house in the most appropriate position. The construction crew can extend string from each batter board to create an outline of where the house should be.
Another common use of batter boards is in the development of foundations and footings. The boards go into the excavation at a desired height, and the crew uses string to mark out foundation heights and start to set up for footings. These footings, usually made from poured concrete, will stabilize the foundation and create a firm base for the rest of the structure. Mistakes with batter board placement can result in issues like a foundation out of plumb or off center.
Reusable batter board products can be moved from job site to job site. They include a set of posts that can be driven into the ground and a movable board that can be positioned along the length of the posts to the desired height. A slider that fits over the board can hold string to allow the crew to stretch string between boards for the purpose of outlining proposed foundations and other features.