Building a Strong Foundation in 7 Steps

Our experts break down the basics of how a home's foundation is installed.
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seven steps in installing a foundation

seven steps in installing a foundation

In this final segment our host Jeff Wilson goes over the seven steps to installing a foundation.

How Does a Foundation Go In?

The same steps are used to install the three types of foundation. The only difference is that with a basement foundation you often use concrete block to create the stem wall that supports the home.

Concrete block come in more than 30 sizes and forms. As for which one is right for your basement, local building codes usually stipulate the type required.

There are seven steps involved in installing a foundation:

Note: With the exception of concrete block mentioned above, these steps apply to each of the three types of foundation.

  • Pick a site, making sure to investigate the conditions of the soil. There're many times where soil conditions require special foundations because the soil may not have great strength or may have some other properties that could cause problems in the future. Your building department, your builder and your designer are in the best position to advise you on this issue at the local level.
  • Have your lot surveyed. This is to determine and locate the actual corners of the foundation so the entire foundation can be formed.
  • Start digging. Your excavation contractor carries out this step in the process.
  • Install the footings. Keep in mind that you may be pouring concrete into wood forms or directly into trenches to create the footings.

    Note: When concrete is poured, there are quite a few dos and don'ts. But most important to use a quality-minded contractor when you're doing a large-scale pour.

  • Seal the footings to protect them from moisture. Be sure to purchase a high-quality sealer, and experts recommend that you to a ready-mix producer and ask where they would recommend a high-quality sealer.
  • Once the concrete has cured, use concrete block to create the stem walls if you're building a basement. Usually your masons will start with your block wall in the corner of the foundation. They do this with what are called "leads," which give masons two endpoints from which to string a line — allowing them to build a plumb and level wall between the two points. The result is a straight and level wall that's crucial to keeping all of the basement walls consistent.
  • Treat your foundation walls with another round of sealer to keep moisture out. Acrylic-based sealers can be applied immediately after finishing the concrete and they act in many regards as a curing compound — as well as a sealer.
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