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Episode 1: The Foundation – Build A House Series

Start Here - The Foundation

Every project starts with the first block. After designing the house, permitting & many contracts comes the construction phase.

And this is where our story begins…

street view clearing land

Land Preparation

We pick up the project after the existing house was demolished and the land was cleared.

The soil is compacted according to the architect’s specifications.

Project Note:  This is a 2-story house-on-grade.  That means the compacted soil has been determined to be strong enough to hold the house on its own without the use of piles & the house does not have to be elevated above grade.

House Foundation Empty Lot pre formwork

Slab Preparation

Formboards were placed to create the foundation outline.

Plumbing & electrical lines were set in the dirt which will be poured into the foundation.

The plumbing will feed first floor hot & cold water as well as provide drainage for the kitchen and bathrooms.  That’s coming soon.

Reinforcing The Slab

With the formboards in place, the foundation can be prepared for concrete pour.

Visqueen (plastic vapor barrier) is placed to prevent moisture intrusion.

a wire mesh is placed in the slab and reinforcing steel forms the areas that need to hold weight from above.

Vertical steel bars are precisely placed to form wall reinforcing.  That will be covered in the wall construction episode.

slab reinforcing with steel overview 2


More about the parts that make up the foundation. 

slab welded wire mesh

Welded wire mesh. Goes in the (4″ thick) slab to provide strength & crack control.
(See 4 below).

rebar close up

Reinforcing steel- Provides strength for heavy loads above. Each piece is designed by engineers & tagged for assembly (see 1 & 2 below). These are pre-bent to form wall reinforcing & strengthen corners.

rebar in foundation pads close up

Foundation mat – Deeper & reinforcing steel to provide strength. A load-bearing 2nd-floor column will be placed centered over these
(see 7 below).

slab steel reinforcing

The edges of the slab are thickened with steel reinforcing to hold the weight of the walls. Those steel bars bending up will reinforce the wall block
(see 3 below).

Technical Corner - Plan Tutorial

The Engineering Behind The Plan

Learn to read the construction plans

Plan Page: The Foundation Plan

1:  Vertical steel reinforcing bars for the walls – They’re short for a reason. Learn more in episode 2.

2: The slab’s thickened edge – Surrounds the building permiter. Those half moons indicate drops in elevation.

3: Reinforcing steel extending from the thickened edge to strengthen the slab.

4: The specification for placement of the welded wire mesh.

5: Symbol for a poured column – needed for more strength (more in episode 2).

6: Indicates a drop in the slab height to accommodate features like showers.

7: Thickened slab areas with extra reinforcing steel to form foundation pads. 

Click image to enlarge

Quick Tip: Reinforcing bars are specified as a number that represents how many eighth’s of an inch thick the bar is.

A #5 bar for example is 5/8″ in diameter. The thicker the bar, the more tensile strength it can hold.

The Foundation concrete slab pour detail workers person steel

The Big Pour


After the slab is formed with all the plumbing, electrical, and steel needed, it’s inspected by the governing building department for approval to proceed.

Concrete trucks are then scheduled to deliver concrete to the job site and pumped in place by a tall crane.

Finishers expertly work the concrete into place, ensuring a level, smooth finish.

Want to see?  Watch the video below.

Quick Clips From The Field

There’s more to that pour than a picture can tell.  Watch how the concrete made its way to that big tube & how the surface is finished.

What Happens After The House Foundation?

Construction’s just getting started.  When the concrete cures (a.k.a. dries, at least 3 days, 7 days recommended), the walls can start to be erected.  

There’s a whole lot more to that story than you think, stay tuned. Connect to us via your social media platform of choice or subscribe to our newsletter to be notified of future episodes

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