Types of foundation and their uses

Foundation of building as the name implies is the starting of a building construction on site really. Types of building, nature of soil and environmental conditions are the major determinant of type of foundation you will use for your building.
1)Strip foundation-This is the most common type, it is mainly used where you have strong soil base and non-waterlogged areas. Most small buildings of just a floor are constructed with this type of foundation .
Depends on the structural engineers recommendation , the depth of your foundation could be from 600mm to 1200mm mostly for small scale buildings . When the soil is excavated, a level at which the concrete will settle evenly is established, then concrete is poured this may be from 150mm(6”) thick to 450mm(18”) thick depending also on building after that block is set round the trenches at the center of foundation ,the foundation usually follows the block lines. The blocks are then layed to d.p.c level before another concrete is poured on top, this is the german or oversite concrete. This type seems to be the cheapest.
2)Pad foundation-This is where isolated columns (pillars) are casted from the foundation to carry a slab at the top of the ground. This is mostly used when you want to make use of the under of building as parking space or when the other space is not conducive to have foundation. Imagine you are planning to build a house across a flowing stream and you want a situation where you can use your boat to pass under the building because the stream is under . Then you may not need to dig foundation that will cut across the river but just by applying columns (pillars) at the edge of the river like a bridge, this columns are thus isolated and there foundations are reffered to as pad.
3)Raft foundation-This is where you have concrete spread around your building from the base of foundation all through to the german floor/oversite concrete/ground floor slab. It is mainly used in areas where the soil are sandy and loose, you spend more on this than the other previous two most of the time. It is also recommended in waterlogged areas but with buildings of less storeys
It has a ground beam which shuts out from the foundation base and is also attached to the ground floor slab to form a network of concrete embedded round the building space. The ground beam are usually from 600mm to 1200mm for low buildings.
4)Pile foundation-The most expensive and the strongest type of foundation, this requires specialist engineering to do. The soil are bored deep down the earth and filled with concrete to be able to support loads of multistory building on top. Most skyscrapers are constructed with this foundation type, a waterlogged area of high building may also require this.
It is the costliest hence it is used for high rise building mostly.

An architect with decades of experience


  1. Hi Emma,
    Thanks for the very useful details embedded in your site.
    I’m planning a project (4 flats-3bedrooms each) with pile foundation in a water logged area. My concern is on having an efficient damp proof course as I hate the sight of wet walls and fence. Please advise on the best and most efficient way of stopping the capillary pressure rise of the water based on the latest available technology in the industry.


  2. im a student of building in nigeria.i enjoy reading most of your article on building.keep the good work moving. benedict from yola.

  3. thanks for the info. you’ve really worked, but you should write about the other types of foundation

  4. i am a student in nigeria, i need a comprehensive write-up on the different methods and types of foundation

    1. The one listed are the major ones every other types are derivatives of the ones you have now. But will still work on it anyway.

    1. Stepped foundation as you rightly said it is just a derivations from the other major foundation types listed above. Step is used where you have obvious slopes or sharp gradient. A strip foundation can be stepped likewise others.

  5. I like this page becouse it make me to understand the whole foundation but one thing it is beter to place a required diagram in each foundation

  6. thanks a lot i got what i need. i propose that you include diagrams in the content explanation.

  7. What type of foundation is the one in which you erect several concrete pillars at intervals arising from the foundation concrete as well as filling the blocks holes with concrete to DPC level? And when is such indicated if at all it serves any advantage?

    Thank you

  8. i understand raft foundation is best for ikoyi,ajah,lekki e.t.c.but which of these types of foundations is mostly used on mainland or Ogun state where soil is strong and clayish.considering a twin duplex.or 1 strorey.

  9. This topic is nice. But the problem is that you do your calculation in milimeters rather than in feet. This confuses many NIgerians, nearly all of who are used to the feet measurement system.

  10. Your site is really a sure problem solver from my own perspective, i benefit a loot since i come in contact with your site just remain a blessing to the profession.

  11. thank you i just got good ways to study because i am student doing civil engineering and i was doing foundation and i got good notes than what is in the book

  12. It very usefull when you come on foundation sector’ good thing in advace but would like to know much about foundation- like what are the first concdaration when you come in choosing the foundation type,?
    Thank you!

  13. am a student of estate mgt,nneed foundation drawings 4 my project,u gys re doiinn a great job,keep it up

  14. U’r wonderful.wen u inform,u empower.wen u empower u transform and 4 evry transformation u stimulate a reward 4rm d almighty

  15. Tanks alot 4 d article, its really encouraging! Pls i need d diagrams, measurements and d calculations involved…..tanks

  16. Thanks for been there for us.But I wish to know if there is any site to read about all aspect of building construction.

    1. three feet is 900mm conventionally, the height of a block is taken as 225 and the width is taken as 450mm so for the width is 2 blocks for height is 4 blocks.
      Remember the 4 blocks after german/oversite concrete floor before window when you are building is always measured on drawing as 900mm.

  17. I am a student in KTTC-KENYA taking a course in civil engineering and i have found the information in your website so helpful in my studies.Please post for us some more information on other areas of study.

  18. Am a building final year student from obafemi awolowo university ILE IFE( GREAT IFE)…..keep up the good work….. just got solution to one of my assignment.

  19. I am a graduate of Building Technology, and newly recruiting to teach Brick Block laying and Concrete at GTC so wit this from u and acquired one 4rm university, i am highly indebted in the field i can face any challenging situation 4rm the students. Thks alot,keep d gud work,

  20. Am building on a claye soil, do i need to pour sand in to the strip foundation before applying the foundation concrete?If so what thickness of sand can i apply? in general how do i treat a building on a claye soil, thanks for your attention

  21. You have really tried on the types of foundation explain but this are the commonly used types of foundation can you explain the remaining types for me. You can help send it to my mail box.

  22. Is it good to get a water logged area for a cheap price and build there, what i mean is that if there is a way of building strong houses in those areas, that will not bring any future problems.

  23. I am cevil engr student of Unilag 300level , i want you to enlight me more about other type of building

  24. iam civil eng.student federal polytechnic nasarawa i want u to enlight me more about the structure of road and surveying says:

    thank u so much for being there for me any time i needed u for any help

  25. i’m a student of federal government academy, suleja. Your article just added a great compliment to my project. I need 2 know d processes involved in buildig on a construction site. Tanx

  26. Goodday Mr Emma, i must congratulate you on your efforts in getting us informed about building work,i say God bless you for all youe efforts.I actually would love it if you inform us all about roof and the types of roof particularly iron/iron roofing. thanks very much for your understanding.

  27. i realy apreciate your effort in fact i enjoyd wat i was ready nd d same time studying.pls i wnt to knw d best foundation for a bungalow in a waterloggd area nd in a land wer its soil are loos.please one more tin,how would i knw wen a structural plan or desigo is correct nd complete.thanks

  28. Indeed,dis is an exposition to the efficacy of foundation in every structures and building.It’s a well commendable pieces and a job well done.
    Sir,kindly put some of the diagram of this various type of foundation to enhance a better understanding of it

  29. I’m studt of bulding technology at Ramat polytechnic m/guri, i realy got the answer to my assignment but need to hv there diagram.

  30. I appreciate ur toturial, it has been a gr8t help 2 pple in construction industry.

  31. I’m a student of civil engr, i dnt knw about d rest guy dat hav read dis, but i must confess dat d writer did a nice job dere

  32. learnt of new foundation design/construction popular in south korea, for high rise buildings, using plastic cones filled with concrete and layed over the building area. The spaces inbetween the cones filled with granite. am interested in the theory.

  33. Thanks a lot for the write up you are wonderful, just try to elaborate more using diagrams in your next article, you are bless.

  34. I wan2 thank Emma 4d 1derful job u’r doing.I wan2 also thank evry1 4 ur contributions.I do Pilling Foundation in swamps n loose sand areas.I also construct d motorize rig.It’s also available 4 sales.Pls do contact me:08069643255,07032941661, kifeta5@gmail.com or kifeta@yahoo.com.I live around Ipaja.God bless you all.

  35. i’m highly impressed with this sumary of foundations, i benefited alot from it.keep the gud job on.Diagrams should be included pls.

  36. i urgently started my one story school building in lekki (sandy soil) with pad foundation when the “omoniles” were threatning to hijack the land. it is yet at DPC. without raft can I continue or what shall I do?

  37. Hi,I’m a student of kat poly studying Q.S,I really enjoy reading your articles on so many subjects related to Quantity survey. Thank you

  38. am a cvil engineering student from Kenya.Indeed impressed by the detailed summary,it has helpd alot.thank you.

  39. I really appreciate and commend you for this very important and educative imformation on this site. I got what i expected…. so comprehensive! Pls, keep this up.

  40. I want you to give and explain me different types of foundations and where (ground conditions) that each one is suitable to introduce on. I also want images of each type of foundation.

  41. ur contribution has indeed help us in erecting our building,d pad foundation was realy ok for my building

  42. hi,can some one please describe briefly the various types of foundations and the circumstances in which they are used.Identify the causes of foundation failure .Thanks

  43. First and foremost, Soil Investigation is VERY CRITICAL to determine the behavior of the soil under load… A soil investigation for a plot could cost about N250K and all you need is 2 Boreholes test and one CPT…

    From the soil investigation report, you will be advised on the type of foundation that the soil can bear depending on the load coming on it.

    For Shallow Foundation:

    you have the Strip, raft and the Pad foundation… This is a function of the bearing capacity of the soil…

    if the building is a bungalow and the soil is a laterite soil and has a high bearing capacity, then a strip footing could be used… Depending on the load of the bungalow, all thanks to our architects, sometimes the strip could be reinforced…

    If the building is a bungalow and the soil is very weak, then the building should be framed and be on a Raft foundation…

    If the building is a storey building or 2, I will recommend it to be framed and founded on a Raft or pad… depending on the soil type…

    if the building is a storey building or more and its on a weak soil, you could go for either a raft, pad or pile depending on the soil profile and properties from the soil investigation report.

    If the building is a storey building and the area is swampy, I would recommend a combined foundation of a pile and a raft (ground beams) or a pad and raft (ground beams)..

    From the above you will agree with me that soil investigation is very critical…. Most client run away from this but a professionals always insist and educate them on the importance.

    Also based on experience and exposure on geotechnical engineering and structural designs you can determine the best option for the buildings… Always remember that Nigerian clients are different… today they say its for residential, tomorrow the convert it to commercials (Increase in loads) and then rent it out to a church (More load and vibrations from church instruments)…. all these have different impact on the Building that was once designed as residential….

    For multistory… then you can go for a Pile – Precast or Cast insitu Piles etc….

    For Precast Piles the ground bearing is improved by the constantly hammering the piles into the ground there by increasing the skin friction. Depending on how the piles are design it could be friction piles, end bearing piles or combination of both.

  44. Sir i am working on a topic roof and roof drainage.sir wat is d various type of roof drainage

  45. Pls for upland of Lekki,Ibeju area precisely (along EPE road), must your foundation be raft too? Must concrete be spread round for raft foundation or blocks erected in between.

  46. I realy appritiate your educative effort on this site.I got what i want,but i’m very sure people,more especialy students would like to see some illustrations like pictures,attached to all this explations. THANKS.

  47. Well done, the best comment (128), by Bldr. Kunlefads was superb. A lot of Nigerians forget it. please keep
    Up the good work.

  48. Thanks so much for this article this is question i most ask during my interview yesterday….. This is well refreshed to me.

  49. what is difference between this types of foundations and basement,crawl space,and slab?. by the way,thank you

  50. am a student nd I really appreciate u for all u hv been written.I will luv to hear more on other type of foundation expect those 1 u mention

  51. Hello Emma,kudos to u on ur outstanding deliveries, they are well appreciatd,thanks. Can u advice, am planing to convert a bungalow to a storey building and I want to just remove the existing roof and put the floor on it. Pls give suggestions on how well to go about this without knocking the existing structure down.

  52. I would like to get some advise. I plan to build a resort of size of 250 feet broad and 65 feet length. The resort raised off the ground on stilts and are divided into 10 house. What is the best foundation for the building. The ground is a solid ground.

  53. TANKS A LOT U GUYS.4 A LONG-TIME CONSTRUCTED BUILDING,IF A CRACKING IS OBSERVED ON D WALL;CAUSES ARE:1.settlement of soil at d foundatn 2.poor foundatn design 3.low bearing capacity of soil.etc SOLUTION> {1}.UNDER-PINNING… etc 4 MORE Contact olaniyi iwo osun state 08030971801

  54. I really make use of this site any time i have chanlenges on how to solve problems that may arised on civil engineering works but needs a clear real diagrams of those foundation.Really grateful, more grease to your elbow.

  55. if you want to build a house just get a 1000 bricks and glue them all together with a pritt stick and then get some see through paper for the windows and doors, job done, bobs your ucle

  56. the post really help me, thanks alot. They are well explained just dat there are no definitions to each of d foundations, i think it will d students. Good work.

  57. various types of strip foundation- Deep strip foundation:- it is used when depth of more dan 900mm have to be reached claying or marching soi. Nd Wide stripe foundation:-it is used when soil has a low bearing capacity. Such as soft clay nd build up soil.

  58. Can you please guide me. Is it okay to use Strip Foundation for a one storey building on a dry land in awoyaya axis. My bricklayer suggested this. he said he would then use beams on the german floor. I look forward to your advice.

    Please keep up with the good work. This blog will go places. God bless you sir.

  59. Well done, this has broadened my knowledge but you didn’t talk of clayey ground. I can now build across a stream lol

  60. A’m civil engineering student i want more explanation, the factor that determine the choice of foundation.

  61. Infact, I really love this site. Coz, I av found wht I av been searching for all this whyl. Mr emma, keep the good work going and dnt relent. The sky is ur starting point. More Greece to ur arm.

  62. There are 2 types of strip foundation namely,, wide strip and deep strip foundation. The latter is used on clay soils to depth of 910mm and above,it is more convinient to use deep strip.

  63. Well done sir. Nice pieces of advice!!!

    I desire to build a 3BR flat on an half plot of land. My first headache is the dimension of the land (120ft x 30ft). I am thinking I will be able to manouvre better with dimensions like 60ft x 60ft 0r 90ft x 40ft.

    Do you advice I go ahead with this OBLONG dimension (120 x 30ft).

    Will appreciate a feedback.

    God bless!

  64. afta readin n accessin dis, i knw i wil b lyin 2masef if i dnt appreciate dis….s helpin me in ma studies especial d pile fnd in concrete…tanks…reali appreciat.

  65. Hi all, am very much happy for the information given by you guys. but can you please give us in detail? e.g simple strip foundation is 230 × 690. I think, this can serve as picture.

  66. Excellent for your support to inlighting people more about construction

  67. please i want to know the environmental practice of pile foundation and the current pile foundation practice in niger delta

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