How Concrete Contractors Build Concrete Foundations

A sturdy foundation is essential for any structure. So whether it is a house, shed, or fencing post, you will need a solid foundation to support the structure’s weight. Fortunately, you can easily hire a concrete contractor to help you build a concrete foundation; however, if you are a handyman that loves to take up some home improvement projects around your home. You might wonder, how do I build a concrete foundation?

Not to worry, this article will thoroughly discuss how concrete contractors build concrete foundations. Building a concrete foundation might not be as smooth as a walk in the park, but with enough patience, labor, and attention to detail, you will have your concrete foundation standing in no time. So, let’s get right into it.

Prepare To Build The Foundation

The first step to kickstart your journey to building a concrete foundation is to figure out where you will build the foundation and get permits or licenses that will enable you to build the foundation. Next, sketch out your dimensions and have a rough draft of how you visualize your foundation.

Once you have a sketch, you can proceed to get your tools and materials ready. It is critical not to skip this process because it can give rise to several issues in the future if you do not plan adequately.

Dig Your Foundation

Once you have the permits to build a foundation and have a sketched plan to follow, it’s time to start the process. To begin with, you have to dig your foundation. You cannot build a foundation on ground level. Instead, you have to dig the ground for building one. So, dig to the required depth based on your dimensions and soil type.

You can use a shovel for a smaller structure, but it won’t suffice for larger projects. It would be much faster and easier to rent a backhoe. Also, ensure that you dig at least two to three feet extra on all sides for you to be able to get into the holes and lay your footings later.

Build A Reinforced Concrete Raft

A reinforced concrete raft might not be necessary if you are working on a solid ground heavy with gravel, granite, or limestone materials that can provide enough support for your foundation. However, many concrete contractors build reinforcement for the foundation system to ensure there’s little to no risk of sinking later.

To build one, you must set up a rebar for the footing. You can easily purchase a rebar that fits your planned dimensions and lift them with grade pins. Then proceed to pour in your first layer of concrete. Ensure that it’s up to at least 1 foot to enable it’s strong enough to support any other structure built on it. Use a float to smoothen and even the surface of the concrete afterward.

Lay Out Concrete Formwork

Concrete formwork is made from wooden boards and will be used to set the foundation’s walls. So, you need to ensure that the formwork material has enough strength to handle the weight of the wet concrete and confirm all alignment and dimensions before pouring concrete.

Additionally, ensure that you seal joints between formwork to avoid leakage of concrete while pouring. You can do that with duplex nails or use metal bars outside both sides of the form to hold them tightly together.

Pour Foundation Walls Concrete

It’s time to pour the concrete into the foundation wall formwork. You could do this with a shovel and gradually fill the formwork. Ensure you pour it at once to avoid the concrete settling and causing cracks. Then proceed to smooth the top of the formwork with a float to remove excess concrete and smoothen the surface.

When the concrete is dry and does not need the support of the wooden form anymore, you can remove the formwork. You might want to give this at least 12 hours before removing the wooden form. Finally, you can spray the foundation walls with a waterproof coat for extra protection before moving on to work on your foundation space.

Prepare Base For Foundation

It is best to build every foundation on a solid base to prevent it from sinking in the future. Thus, you need to strengthen your foundation base by adding layers of gravel, sand, or other solid materials.

You can easily dump these materials on the foundation space with a wheelbarrow and spread them evenly with a shovel. Afterward, you can use a plate compactor to compact the materials before proceeding with the next step.

Add Rebar Reinforcement

Reinforcing a foundation is essential to ensure that the foundation doesn’t suddenly break apart or begin to crack. The rebar reinforcement is responsible for keeping the foundation together.

Usually, you can find the specifications such as thickness, sizes, and others in local building code regulations, so be sure to follow them. Note that this is very important, especially in cases where buildings may be subject to earthquakes and so on.

Pour The Concrete

Finally, it’s time to pour the foundation concrete. If there is easy vehicle access to the site, you can pour the concrete directly from the truck into the foundation space. However, if that isn’t the case, you can use a wheelbarrow or hire a concrete pump, depending on your project’s size.

Make sure you use a bull float to smooth over your foundation surface and even out the concrete. Additionally, utilize an edger to smooth the edges. Then insert anchor bolts to the foundation; these would help secure the building structure to the foundation when you begin building. Note that it is vital that you add these bolts before the concrete dries.

Cure Concrete Foundation

Allowing your concrete foundation to cure is vital to the durability and strength of the foundation. So, wait for about 7 to 10 days before building on it. Although the curing process is continual, waiting for a few weeks before building on your foundation will enable it to gain the strength it needs to handle the structure you want to build on it.


Concrete foundations have several benefits over other types of foundations, but their major benefit is their strength. They are strong and exceptionally stable, and with the aid of concrete walls built in the foundation, they have increased stability.