What Is A Foundation In Construction? [Meaning, Types, & Importance]

Blog, Construction, Foundation & Framing

In construction, the foundation of any home is a very important structure. It is the most essential substructure on which a building stands. Without a firm foundation, the structural integrity of that building may suffer in the near future.

The foundation of any structure is usually constructed below the ground level. This increases the structure’s lateral stability and transfers the load from the structure constructed on it to the soil.

In today’s article, I will write about foundations in construction, the various types, and the purpose of the foundation, I will also answer other questions you may have. So, read on to learn more.

Types of foundation


The foundation is mainly categorized into two divisions: shallow foundation and deep foundation. The one to be used for your project will depend on the soil profile and the size of the structure to be constructed.

1. Shallow foundation

shallow foundation in construction

The first type of foundation is the shallow foundation, also termed spread footing. In this type of foundation, the depth of the foundation is less than its width and is often 6ft from the lowest floor. There are about 5 types of shallow foundations, namely;

  • Spread footing
  • Basement Foundation
  • Crawl space foundation
  • Raft or mat footings
  • Concrete slab foundation

Spread footing

A spread footing or pad footing is a type of foundation with a wider base than the top. This design was made to spread the weight of the entire structure to the entire footing. It can be done in various sizes, square, round, or rectangular, and is commonly used for residential buildings, walls, or masonry columns.

Basement Foundation

Like the regular foundation, the basement foundation also serves the same purpose of distributing the building’s weight evenly. But basement foundations have their wall submerged fully in the soil, creating a working or storage space below the ground level.

Crawl space foundation

A crawl space foundation has the foundation leaving a small protected space of about 3 – 4 ft high under the house. This space will provide access to various elements in the house, such as drainage pipes, plumbing, etc. But this space will not have enough room for most people to stand, hence the name, “crawl space”.

One major advantage of a crawl space foundation is that the space keeps houses cooler in warmer climates. This is because the space allows air to move freely underneath the structure.

Raft or mat footing

Raft or mat footing is used for areas where other foundations are not suitable or areas where the bearing capacity of the soil is not adequate. It consists of a single large, continuous rectangular or circular slab underneath the building that carries and distributes the structure’s load.

Concrete slab foundation

Concrete slab foundation is the most common foundation used today for residential and commercial buildings. It consists of a 6 – 8 inch concrete pad beneath the structure. The thickness of the slab depends on the load the foundation will need to bear.

2. Deep foundation

deep foundation

This foundation is deep below the ground surface, usually 3m deep. They are used to transfer the loading to deeper and more competent strata at depth. There are 3 major types of deep foundations, namely;

  • Pile foundation
  • Buoyant foundation
  • Drilled shaft or caisson foundation

Pile foundation

In this type of foundation, the load is transmitted via a vertical member, and a pile is pushed into the stable ground deep. This foundation is used for weak soil surfaces, deep drainage systems, or high groundwater levels.

Buoyant foundation

This type of foundation acts as a floating structure, specifically designed to support heavy loads on soft soil surfaces. This is done by reducing the load intensity all over the soil. It is usually the best option for flood-prone areas because it elevates structures above high water levels.

Drilled shaft, pier foundation, or caisson foundation

This foundation comprises prefabricated hollow boxes or cylinders that work as a water-retaining structure. It is often the choice for foundations beneath a river, freeway overpasses, hillside homes, or similar water bodies.

Purposes of the Foundation

As I mentioned at the start of this article, the foundation is a very important structure, all buildings are provided with a foundation at their base to fulfill the following purposes;

  • Increase the stability of the entire structure
  • Prevent lateral movement of supporting materials used in the structure
  • Prevent unequal settlement
  • Provide a level and firm bed for building operation
  • Distribute the weight of the structure evenly over a large area of soil


What is the most used type of foundation?

A concrete slab foundation is the most common type of foundation.

Which type of foundation is the cheapest?

A concrete slab foundation is one of the most affordable types of foundation.

What is the difference between foundation and footing?

The foundation is the structure that transfers the load from the superstructure to the soilwhile the footing is the foundation that is in direct contact with the earth itself.

How long does it take to build a foundation for a house?

Footing and foundation can take anywhere from two to three weeks of work to complete, it could also take longer, depending on the size of your project.

Conclusion – Choosing the right type of foundation

Choosing the right type of foundation for your project will depend on the project specifications. You must consider various factors such as the climate, soil condition, materials needed, and other relevant factors.

Well, there you have it. A complete breakdown of a foundation in construction, its meaning, types, and why it is so important. At Samkins Construction Lnc, we strive to deliver the best for clients. Why not contact us today for your foundation works and other construction contracts you may have?

Thank you for reading this article.

About Samkins

Samkins Construction Inc specializes in custom home building, general contracting, design-build, architectural design, construction management, and real estate services.


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