How to Lay House Foundations


The foundation of the house is arguably the most important component; it is, at the very least, the part of the structure which -- if built incorrectly -- can have serious consequences, both structural and financial. Knowing how to correctly lay the foundation for a house is critical in ensuring that the construction gets off to the best start, and good preparation can save time and money.

Things You'll Need

  • Foundation designs
  • Engineering reports
  • Ground investigation reports
  • Plumbing layouts
  • Drainage/service layouts
  • Vibrator rod tool
  • Excavator
  • Concrete
  • Steel mesh
  • Steel chairs
  • Gravel
  • Trench Blocks
  • Concrete Blocks
  • Engineering Bricks
  • Batter boards
  • Spray paint
  • Waterproof plastic sheet
  • Concrete smoother

Constructing the Foundation

  • Employ consultants and engineers to carry out ground investigation reports. These will tell you the quality of the soil in which the foundation will be dug, and will recommend depth of excavation and concrete required to properly support the weight of the house.

  • Draw some building plans and ensure that they are approved by any local authorities. Constructing a house without approved plans can cause legal issues, which is often costly.

  • Employ a competent groundworks contractor -- someone who specializes in substructure construction -- to assist you in this process. They can provide advice as well as carrying out works involving heavy machinery.

  • Using an excavator driven by a qualified operator, scrape away the topsoil from the ground to reveal the subsoil. Topsoil is usually about six inches deep.

  • Mark the center line of the foundation onto the soil using spray paint, using engineering layouts and co-ordinates to mark your foundation in the right area. Use batter boards to mark out the corners.

  • Employ the groundworks contractor to dig the foundation trench to the required depth.

  • Dependant upon the condition of the ground, reinforcement may be required to provide additional support. This is usually in the form of a steel mesh, which is laid into the trench and raised off the ground slightly using metal supports known as "chairs".

  • Pour the concrete into the trench to the required depth, and employ the groundworks contractor to remove any trapped air in the concrete by using a large vibrator rod. Allow to dry for two to six weeks, dependant upon the depth of concrete.

  • Build trench blocks on top of the concrete to the required level, or engineering bricks and concrete blocks if the foundation design states as such. Lay any pipework or drainage that passes through this wall. Backfill the trench with the excavated soil.

Constructing the Floor Slab

Tips & Warnings

  • Always check the references of any groundworks contractor to ensure suitability.
  • Ensure that all operators of heavy machinery hold the correct certification and/or qualifications, to guarantee their training and reduce the risk of poor quality work.
  • Building without sufficient planning approval can cause legal problems.
  • Overlooking a foundation design can cause future problems, such as subsidence.

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  • Photo Credit house blueprint and house model studio isolated image by dinostock from cracked soil image by Ana de Sousa from house plan image by Jon Le-Bon from builder and architect image by goce risteski from digger image by Edvin selimovic from spray image by Dragana Petrovic from construction vehicles on the site digging a trench image by Elnur from roll of mesh image by jimcox40 from cold concrete blocks image by jbattx from Structure from blocks image by amlet from gravel image by Alison Bowden from rain image by tomash from plank image by Adrian Hillman from concrete image by Empath from time image by Deborah Durbin from
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