Foundations are fundamental. We all know this, but so often buildings experience problems arising from foundation shortcomings. This course will teach how to build them right the first time. We'll discuss site selection, soil testing, ground preparation, frost protection and concrete reinforcement and placement, to construct an efficient, economical, and appropriate foundation. We will review actual case histories of foundations in difficult conditions, accompanied with lots of visuals and class discussion. At the end of Day 1, we'll build a scale model of a house foundation to visualize and demonstrate the principles discussed earlier in the day. On Day 2, we'll travel nearby and identify foundations that are crying for help, and discuss how to fix each situation. In the afternoon, we'll do some hands-on soil sampling and identification, and perform a partial repair to a distressed foundation.

Course start time: Saturday, 9am
Course end time: Sunday, 5pm

  • Competency Level: Beginner to Intermediate
  • Sterling College credits: 1 Continuing Education Unit ($130 additional)
  • AIA credits: 14 HSW Learning Units

Topics will include

What is a Foundation--a marriage of concrete and soil

  • Soils, compressibility, matching foundation type to soil conditions.
  • Understanding soil conditions; choosing the foundation accordingly

Purpose/Function of Foundation:

  • End point for structural loads of building, both vertical (primarily) and lateral (Secondarily)
  • Where there is a basement, also acts as a retaining wall.
  • Interface between the structure and the environment, i.e. ground, water, insects, critters, etc.
  • Bearing capacity- the geometry required to have the foundation not move in the soil.

Site Investigation Prior to Foundation Selection

  • Soil conditions
  • The surrounding environment (variability of site conditions -- slope, water, ledge, drainage, etc)
  • Site accessibily- can large equipment get in, or only smaller equipment- increasing costs, hand
  • Labor.

Typical Foundation Configurations

  • Continuous perimeter wall around structure buried deep enough to form a basement buried only deep enough to prevent frost action
  • Frost susceptibility

Frost protected shallow foundations

  • Frost action and how to prevent it
  • Economical ways to construct shallow foundation smartly placed insulation to prevent frost action