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The lowest artificially prepared part of the structures which are in direct contact with the ground
and which transmit the load of the structures to the ground are known as Foundations
The soil ground on which the foundations rest is called the Foundation Bed or Foundation
Soil and it ultimately bears the load and interacts with the foundations of the building. The lower
most portion of the foundation which is in direct contact with the subsoil is called the Footing.

'Soil' is defined as a natural aggregate of mineral grains with or without organic matter.
Soils are obtained from continuous process of weathering of rocks on the earths surface. The
loads of the structure are transferred to sub-soil.
Soils are classified as:
1. Non- Cohesive soils
2. Cohesive soils
1. Non- cohesive soils: Non- Cohesive soils are made of coarser particles. In dry state they
possess no plasticity. Lack any cohesion
Non- Cohesive soils are classified as:
Sandy Soil
1. Gravel: Gravels are weathered and disintegrated rock fragments from residual deposits Grain
sizes, coarsed particles of rock having sizes 4.75 mm to 80 mm are known as Gravels. They
include river deposits made of rounded pebbles and shingles. Cemented and compact gravels do
not shrink or swell due to evaporation or absorption of water. Gravel can be well compacted
and allows water to drain freely. The variety in particle sizes in gravel means that even when
closely packed it still contains voids and drains well. Gravel soils do not hold water. They sustain
heavy load without any appreciable settlement. They provide very good foundation next to rock.
2. Sandy Soil: Sandy soils are non- cohesive deposits from rock disintegration. Coarser particles
of silica obtained from disintegration of rocks having sizes 0.06 mm to 4.75 mm are known as
Sandy Soil. They are mostly river deposits. This soil is formed by the disintegration and
of rocks such as limestone, granite, quartz and shale. This soil retains a certain
amount of moisture and nutrients. In a way sandy soil is good for plants since it lets the water
drain easily, so that it prevents root problems. Sands provide good foundation except when they
are loose and not confined.
3. Silt: The finer particles of rock having sizes 0.002 mm to 0.06 mm are known as Silt. It is a
fine grained soil and has little plasticity. Silt is relatively impervious. It shrinks or swells due to
evaporation or absorption of water. It is composed of minerals like quartz and fine organic
particles. Silty soil is found in flood plains or around lakes. It is granular like sandy soil but it has
more nutrients than sandy soil and offers better drainage. This type of soil can hold more
moisture and at times becomes compact. It is much easier to work with when it has moisture. They
do not sustain heavy load and shows signs of settlement. It is not a very good foundation material
unless it has been compressed and hardened, or has been dried out. Hence it is not suitable for
2. Cohesive soils: Non- Cohesive soils are made of finer particles. They possess plasticity and

Cohesive soils are classified as:

1. Shale
2. Clayey Soil
3. Black cotton soil
4. Peat
5. Made up grounds
1. Shale: It is a fine-grained sedimentary rock that forms from the compaction of silt and clay-size
mineral particles that we commonly call "mud". This composition places shale in a category of
sedimentary rocks known as "mudstones. It is a compressed form of laminated clay. Shale
usually contains other clay-size mineral particles such as quartz, chert and feldspar. Shale breaks
into thin pieces with sharp edges. It occurs in a wide range of colors that include: red, brown,
green, gray, and black. It is the most common sedimentary rock and is found in sedimentary basins
2. Clayey Soil: Finer soil particles having sizes less than 0.002 mm is known as Clay. Clay soil is
formed after years of rock disintegration and weathering. It is a soft plastic and can be molded in
moist condition when dry it shrinks and when wet it swells.Clay drains slowly and compresses
when foundations are placed upon them. It takes large settlement and takes long time for it.
Therefore difficult to predict the settlement and time taken for it.Hence it is not suitable for
3. Black cotton soil: High percentage of montomonillonite renders high degree of expansiveness.
These property results cracks in soil without any warning. These cracks may sometimes extent to
severe limit like wide and 12 deep. So building to be founded on this soil may suffer severe
damage with the change of atmospheric conditions. It shows large shrinkage and settlement.Hence
it forms very poor base for foundation.
4. Peat: This kind of soil is basically formed by the accumulation of dead and decayed organic
matter; it naturally contains much more organic matter than most of the soils. The decomposition
of the organic matter in this soil is blocked by the acidity of the soil. This kind of soil is formed
in wet climate. It is generally found in marshy areas. Hence it not suitable for foundation.
5) Made up grounds: The ground is formed after filling with refuse. Hence it is very un-suitable
for foundation.

The part of the building which is above ground level is known as Superstructure. A part of
superstructure located between the ground level and the floor level is known as the Plinth. Plinth
is the portion of the structure between the surface of the surrounding ground and level of the floor
immediately above the ground.
Types of construction:
Load Bearing Structure
Framed Structure
1. Load Bearing Structure: In this case the loads of roof and floors are borne by the walls and they
finally transfer the same to the foundation below. These walls are known as load bearing walls and
the structure is therefore known as load bearing walled structure. The walls in the ground floor
have to bear the loads of all the floors above and as such, they should be sufficiently thick on
account of which they consume more useful floor space. Each element of the building participates
in transferring the load. The load is distributed to the area coming is in the zone of 45 or 60. The
lateral stability is achieved by floors and roofs
Uses: These types of structures are suitable for residential buildings up to three storey.

2. Framed Structure: To meet out the growing demand for mass housing, due to population
explosion, and the acute shortage of land or the high cost of land, in big cities, multistoried
buildings are generally constructed. If these are built as load bearing walled structures, the walls of
very large thickness will have to be provided. As such they become very heavy and costly. They
also occupy large space. Since, now-a-days space has much value every inch of the space must be
utilized carefully. So here load bearing construction becomes unsuitable and impracticable. In such
a case some sort of skeleton or frame is erected consisting of slabs, beams and columns. All these
structural elements are properly. Connected together to form a structure. Such a structure is known
as framed structure.
Uses: The framed structure is widely used for high-rise buildings or sky-scrapers and heavy
structures like factories, work-shops resisting dynamic forces.
Sr. No. Load bearing structure

Framed structure


Almost all the walls are load

bearing walls.


Almost all the walls are provided withAll the walls rest on plinth beams and not
shallow or deep foundations.
provided with Any foundations


All load bearing walls are taken

Deep into the subsoil for foundation.


Load bearing walls are constructed ofColumns, beams and slabs are
bricks or stones.
constructed of R.C.C.


Thickness of load bearing walls

in any case is not less than 200 mm.






All the walls are partition walls or screen walls. None

of the wall is load bearing.

Only columns are taken deep into the subsoil

and are provided with footings.

Only exterior walls are of thickness 200 mm and

all interior walls are of thick-ness 100 mm or
A load bearing wall when once
The walls of framed structure can be shifted at
Constructed shall remain in position andany place as they are lighter and not load
should never be dismantled.
There is no such restriction in framed structure.
Too many openings for doors, windows, The space between two columns can be kept
Ventilators, etc. are not permissible.
fully or partially
open as per planning and requirements .
Plans for different .floors remain same
as every wall on the upper floors must
Planning for each floor is independent and free
be a corresponding wall in continuation of from whatever the planning of lower floor.
the wall of lower floor.
Even in the case of soil with poor bearing
It requires soil of good bearing
capacity, piles may be driven until hard stratum
capacity like rocks, sandy soil, gravelly
is reached and R.C.C. columns are constructed
soil, etc.
over them.
Best suited for multistoried and high rise
Best suited for small residential houses,buildings, commercial complexes,
rural houses and houses up to three storey. buildings, etc.


Bearing capacity of soil denotes the ability of soil to sustain the total load of the structure without
yielding or showing any settlement.
Types of Bearing capacity
1. Ultimate Bearing Capacity : It denotes the ultimate load per unit area, which would cause
the soil to displace.

2. Safe Bearing Capacity : It denotes the maximum load per unit area, that the soil can resist
safely without displacement.

The factors affecting bearing capacity of soil are:1)Type and nature of soil, such as coarsed grained, fine grained soils etc.
2)Environmental conditions: Drainage, seepage and accumulation of water affects the bearing
3)Extent of soil compaction.
4)Physical properties: such as density, shear strength etc.
5)Moisture content.
6)Flexibility or rigidity of the foundation.
7)Differential settlement.
8)Types of foundation.
9)Depth of foundation.
10)Proximity of ground water table.


Plate Load Test is a field test for determining the ultimate bearing capacity of soil and
the likely settlement under a given load. The Plate Load Test basically consists of loading a steel
plate placed at the foundation level and recording the settlements corresponding to each load
increment. The test load is gradually increased till the plate starts to sink at a rapid rate. The total
value of load on the plate in such a stage divided by the area of the steel plate gives the value of
the ultimate bearing capacity of soil. The ultimate bearing capacity of soil is divided by suitable
factor of safety (which varies from 2 to 3) to arrive at the value of safe bearing capacity of soil.
For better understanding, this Plate Load Test can be sub-divided into the following heads,
1.Test set-up
2. Testing procedure
3. Interpretation of results
4. Limitations of the test.
1. Test Setup:
A test pit is dug at site up to the depth at which the foundation is proposed to be laid. The width of
the pit should be at least 5 times the width of the test plate. At the centre of the pit a small square
depression or hole is made whose size is equal to the size of the test plate and bottom level of
which corresponds to the level of actual foundation. The depth of the hole should be such that the
ratio of depth to width of the loaded area is approximately the same as the ratio of the actual depth
to width of the foundation.
The mild steel plate (also known as bearing plate) used in the test should not be less than 25 mm
in thickness and its size may vary from 300 to 750 mm. The plate could be square or circular in
shape. Circular plate is adopted in case of circular footing and square plate is used in all other
types of footings. The plate is machined on side and edges.
2. Testing Procedure:
The load is applied to the test plate through a centrally placed column. The test load is transmitted
to the column by one of the following two methods

(i) By gravity loading or reaction loading method

(ii) By loading truss method.
(i) Gravity loading or reaction loading method:
In case of gravity loading method, a loading platform is constructed over the column placed on the
test plate and test load is applied by placing dead weight in the form of sand bags, pig iron,
concrete blocks, lead bars etc. on the platform. Many a times a hydraulic jack is placed between
the loading platform and the column top for applying the load to the test plate the reaction of the
hydraulic jack being borne by the loaded platform. This form of loading is termed as reaction

4. Limitations of plate load test:

The plate load test, though very useful in obtaining necessary information about soil for design of
foundation has following limitations,
(1) The test results reflect only the character of the soil located within a depth of less than twice
the width of bearing plate. Normally the foundations are larger than the test plates, the settlement
and shear resistance of soil against shear failure will depend on the properties of much thickea
stratum. Thus the results of test could be misleading if the character of the soil changes at shallow
(ii) The Plate Load Test being of short duration, does not give the ultimate settlements
particularly in case of cohesive soils.
(iii) For clayey soils the bearing capacity (from shear consideration) for a large foundation, is
almost same as that for the smaller test plate. But in dense sandy soils the bearing apacity
increases with the size of the foundation and hence the test with smaller size test plate tends to
give conservative values in dense sandy soils.
In view of the above limitations, the plate load test method of determining SBC of soil may be
considered adequate for light or less important structures under normal condition. However, in
case of unusual type of soil stratum and for all heavy and important structures, relevant laboratory
tests or field test are essential to establish the SBC.
Some of the methods to improve bearing capacity of soils:
1. Increasing the depth of the footing is the simplest method of improve the
bearing capacity of soil, This method is restricted to sites where the sub-soil
water level is much below and deep excavations do not increase the cost of
foundations disproportionately.

2. Drainage is a well known method to improve the bearing capacity of certain

soils. Drains (with open joints) are laid in trenches just at the footing base. The
sub-soil water thus collected is drained out through a system of pipe drains
provided outside the external walls of the building.
3. By blending granular material, like sand, gravel or crushed stone into the natural
soil by ramming. The layer of soil thus formed is much stronger and is of
improved bearing capacity.
4. By confining the soil in an enclosed area with the help of sheet piles. This
method is used with advantage in shallow foundations in sandy soils.
5. By driving sand piles. This method is based on the principle of reducing the void
volume of the natural soil. Holes are made in the soft soil with the help of
wooden piles or other means and then sand is filled in the holes and rammed.
These are called sand piles. Bearing capacity of soft soil can be appreciably
improved by driving sand piles at close spacing.

Presumptive Bearing Capacity

Building codes of various organizations in different countries gives the allowable
bearing capacity that can be used for proportioning footing. These are called
presumptive bearing capacity values. These values are based on experience with other
structures already built.The table given below shows the presumptive bearing capacity
values for different types of soils.

1)Shallow foundation: When the depth of foundation 'D' is less or equal to the
width 'B' it is called as Shallow Foundation or open foundation i.e. D B. It is placed
immediately beneath the lower part of the super structure. The main object of this type of
foundation is to spread the load of the super structure over a larger area to bring the
pressure intensity within safe limits. These are generally used for all ordinary buildings
which carry light or moderate loads and where good bearing capacity is available at
shallow depth, or reasonable depth. i.e. D 5 m.
The various types of shallow foundations are as follows:
Wall Footing (Strip)
Column Footing
1) Wall Footing (Strip): It consists of a continuous strip of footing to spread the load of
wall over a larger area. Hence, it is also called spread footing. The width and depth of
the strip depends upon the load on foundation and S.B.C. of the so footings can be either
simple or stepped.
2)Column footing: These are used to support individual columns.
Isolated Footing
Combined Footing
Cantilever Footing or Strap Footing
Raft / Mat Footing
(a) Isolated Footing: It is also known as independent footing because for each column
separate footing is provided. It is generally provided under a column to distribute the
point or concentrated load in the form of uniformly distributed load on the soil below. It
may be of brick or stone masonry, R.C.C. etc. This type of footing is also known as 'pad
footing. The shape may be square, rectangular or circular in plan. As per the
construction of the pad, they are known as flat and sloped footings. These are commonly
used for framed structures. It can be Simple, Stepped, Sloped
a) Simple Spread Footing

(b) Stepped Footing

Sloped Footing
(b) Combined Footing:
When two columns rest on a single footing, it is called as 'Combined Footing'. They
may be rectangular or trapezoidal in shape.This type of construction is found necessary
when an external column is situated near the boundary line of the plot and it is not
possible to project its footing in that direction. In such case a combined footing is
adopted so that the external column footing will not encroach upon the area outside the
boundary line of the building. Sometimes the two columns may be very near to each
other and it may so happen that footings of these columns overlap each other. In that case
both the columns are made to rest on a combined footing.
It can be of two types
(c) Cantilever Footing or Strap Beam Footing: This is also called as eccentrically loaded
footing or Strap Footing. In this case it may so happen that the extreme column of the
building is very close to the boundary so that the extreme column footing is likely to
encroach upon the area outside the boundary line of the plot. In such a case a strap or
beam of sufficient strength is provided at the bottom connecting the boundary or exterior
column and the nearest interior column. The strap or beam thus provided supports the
weight of the exterior column. The interior column rests on its own footing so an
eccentric footing is therefore provided just below the exterior column. The beam jointing
the two footings need not touch the soil or rest on the ground. The cantilever footing is
constructed in reinforced cement concrete.

Strap Beam Footing

(d)Raft / Mat Footing: In case of made up grounds, soft clay or marshy site or in case
of possibility of differential settlement, the usual spread footing, will not be suitable.
Also, if excavations are made for footings, very little is left to be excavated. In such
case, it is wiser on our part to excavate over the entire area of the building for its
foundation. Generally a R.C.C. slab of suitable thickness is laid over the entire area of
the building in the form of raft or mat and is therefore known as raft or mat foundation. It
is so designed that the allowable bearing power of the soil is not exceeded. If necessary
beams and columns construction is carried out to improve the strength and stability of the
foundation. The raft is designed as an inverted R.C.C. roof subjected to the uniform
distributed load of soil pressure and supported by walls, beams and columns.
DEEP FOUNDATION: When a stratum of good bearing capacity is not available at
reasonable depth i.e. D > 4B and where other types of foundations such as grillage or raft
foundations are not suitable, then deep foundation must be adopted to attain a bearing
stratum which will be suitable in all respect. They are generally provided when depth of
foundation is more than 5 meters. In addition to the above, there may be many other

conditions which may require deep foundation for scouring stability and durability of the
structure. For example, in bridge construction, the pier must be founded well below the
scouring depth, even though good bearing stratum may be available at shallow depth.
The various types of deep foundations are as follows:
Pile Foundation
Pier Foundation
1. Pile Foundation: A pile is defined as a shaft of suitable diameter employed to transfer
the loads deep into a soil which may be capable of sustaining the load of the structure. A
pile may be short or long. A pile is considered to be long when its length is more than 30
m. Pile foundation is generally adopted when the spread foundation, raft or grillage
foundations are likely to be unsuitable, very expensive or practically impossible. In case
of compressible soil, soil of made up type, water-logged soil, piles are usually used
advantageously for foundation for any type of construction. Piles are usually used for
foundations of buildings, bridges, piers, docks, etc. In short pile foundation is very
helpful to solve the problems of all difficult foundations.

Based upon the function piles are classified as :

(i) Bearing Piles

(ii) Friction Piles
(iii) Fender Piles
(iv) Anchor Pile
(v) Batter Piles
(iii) Sheet Piles
Bearing Piles: Piles are the poles made of timber, plain concrete, R.C.C. or steel. These
are hammered down to rest on hard surface. On top of a number of piles a concrete cap is
and over that construction activity of building starts. Thus bearing piles transfer the load
to hard
surface directly.
Friction Piles: When hard surface is not met at reasonable depth, the frictional resistance
between the adjoining soil and pile is checked and the pile length is kept sufficient
enough to transfer the load by friction. Figure 4.9 shows typical pile


Foundation: Small piers are generally used for buildings, towers etc. For multistoried or
sky-scrapers, they may be made massive as much large as 3 m. in diameter and could be
sunk to a depth of 30 to 40 m. When the soil met with is boulder, the ordinary pile
driving becomes impracticable. In such cases piers are usually used. Piers are constructed
in open excavation or in bore holes as such they do not cause any disturbance to the
adjoining soil. Accordingly they are termed as excavated pier, drilled pier, etc.
3. Cassion Foundation: The word caisson is a French word meaning a box. In civil
engineering caisson is defined as a water-tight structure, made up of wood, steel, R.C.C.
constructed for foundations involving under water construction, i.e. for foundations of
piers, abutments of bridges, dock-structures, break-waters, lamp-houses etc. The caisson
remains in the position and subsequently becomes integral part of the structure.
The caissons are classified as:
1. Box-caisson

2. Wells or open caisson

3. Pneumatic caisson.
1) For low bearing capacity of ground such as soft clay, murum, black cotton soil or
marshy site, wide spread (strip) foundation, raft or mat foundation or even pile
foundation an suitable.
2) If the ground is soft, use spread or inverted arch foundation to distribute the load over
larger area.
3) In case of uneven soils or made-up grounds where there is possibility of differential
settlement, provide raft or mat foundation.
4) If the load is concentrated on columns as in case of framed structure with panel walls,
use isolated, independent or pad footing.
5) If columns are placed very close to each other, provide combined or continuous
6) In case the extreme column of the building is very close to the boundary line of the
pier use cantilever or strap footing.
7) If hard stratum is available at great depth where raft, grillage foundations are likely to
be unsuitable, and very expensive, use pile foundation.
8) When a heavy building is to be constructed in soft soil or sandy soil overlaying hard
bed at reasonable depth, use pier foundation.
The foundations may fail due to the following reasons:
1. Unequal settlement of sub-soil.
Unequal settlement of the sub-soil may lead to cracks in the structural components and
rotation thereof. Unequal settlement of sub-soil may be due to (i) non-uniform nature of
sub-soil throughout the foundation, (ii) unequal load distribution of the soil strata, and
(iii) eccentric loading. The failures of foundation due to unequal settlement can be
checked by : (i) resting the foundation on rigid strata, such as rock or hard moorum, (ii)
proper design of the base of footing, so that it can resist cracking, (iii) limiting the
2. Unequal settlement of masonry.


As stated earlier, foundation includes the portion of the structure which is below ground
level. This portion of masonry, situated between the ground level and concrete
footing(base) has mortar joints which may either shrink or compress, leading to unequal
settlement of masoray. Due to this, the superstructure will also have cracks. This could be
checked by (i) using mortar of proper strength, (ii) using thin mortar joints, (iii)
restricting the height of masonry to 1 m per day if lime mortar is used and 1.5 m per day
if cement mortar is used, and (iv) properly watering the masonry.

3. Sub-soil moisture movement.

This is one of the major causes of failures of footings on cohesive soil, where the sub-soil
water level fluctuates. When water table drops down, shrinkage of sub-soil takes place.
Due to this, there is lack of sub-soil support to the footings which crack, resulting in the
cracks in the building. During upward movement of moisture, the soil specially if it is
expansive) swells resulting in high swelling pressure. If the foundation and
superstructure is unable to resist the swelling pressure, cracks are induced.
4. Lateral pressure on the walls. The walls transmitting the load to the foundation may
be subjected to lateral pressure or thrust from a pitched roof or an arch or wind action.
Due to this, the foundation will be subjected to a moment (or resultant eccentric load). If
the foundation has not been designed for such a situation, it may fail by either
overturning or by generation of tensile stresses on one side and high compressive stresses
on the other side of the footing.
5. Lateral Movement of sub-soil This is applicable to very soft soil which are liable to
move out or squeeze out laterally under vertical loads, specially at locations where the
ground is sloping. Such a situation may also arise in granular soils where a big pit is
excavated in the near vicinity of the foundation. Due to such movement, excessive
settlements take place, or the structure may even collapse. If such a situation exists, sheet
piles should be driven to prevent the lateral movement or escape of the soil.
6. Weathering of sub-soil due to trees and shrubs. Sometimes, small trees, shrubs or
hedge is grown very near to the wall. The roots of these shrubs absorb moisture from the
foundation soil, resulting in reduction of their voids and even weathering. Due to this the
ground near the wall depresses down. If the roots penetrates below the level of footing,
settlements may increase, resulting in foundation cracks.
7. Atmospheric action. The behaviour of foundation may be adversely affected due to
atmospheric agents such as sun, wind, and rains. If the depth of foundaion is shallow,
moisture movements due to rains or drought may cause trouble. If the building lies in a
low lying area, foundation may even be scoured. If the water remains stagnant near the
foundation, it will remain constantly damp, resulting in the decrease in the strength of
footing or foundation wall. Hence it is always recommended to provide suitable plinth
protection along the external walls by (i) filling back the foundation trenches with good
soil and compacting it, (ii) providing gentle ground slope away from the wall and (iii)
providing a narrow, sloping strip of impervious material (such as of lime or lean cement
concrete) along the exterior walls.