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The most common types of foundations for domestic and light commercial buildings are the

strip and the pad foundation respectively. In this section the design of these two foundations

will be discussed.

Figure 4-1 shows a narrow strip foundation which is a long strip of concrete supporting the

walls of a low-rise domestic building. It can also be used for other buildings, if the factors

favour such a choice. From the wall the loading is spread on the foundation at 45 as shown

in Figure App7.1a. The planes through which the loading is distributed are called the shear

planes. The foundation should be designed in such a way that the shear planes pass through

the lower corners of the strip. If the designed foundation width is too wide, as is the case in

weaker soils, plain concrete strip may bend and crack as shown in Figure App7.1b. Concrete

may be made stronger in tension by providing steel reinforcement in the tension zone.

Ground level Ground level

Depth dependent on
soil conditions

D = P or 150 mm
P P whichever is greater

Mass concrete (1:3:6)


15 N/mm 2
Shear plane
Shear plane Cracks

(a) (b)

Figure App7.1 Strip foundation

According to the Building Regulations, the design of a strip foundation should satisfy the

following conditions*:

i) The projections of the concrete strip on either side of the wall should be equal.
ii) The thickness of the concrete strip should either be equal to the projection (D = P) or 150

mm, whichever is greater. This means that the minimum thickness of strip foundation is 150


Example 1:

Design a strip foundation for a domestic building to satisfy the following conditions:

i) The walls are 275 mm thick cavity walls.

ii) The building load, including the dead load of the foundation, is 40 kN/m.

iii) The safe bearing capacity of the subsoil is 80 kN/m2


As the walls and the foundation are very long, the calculations are based on 1 m length of the

wall/foundation. The area of the foundation can be determined from the formula:

Building load
Area of the building foundation = Safe bearing capacity

= 80 = 0.5 m2

Area of strip foundation = Width 1 m length = 0.5 m2

Therefore, width of the foundation = 0.5 m2

This is the minimum requirement.

The normal practice is to provide 600 mm wide foundation. Each projection will be:

(600 275) 2 = 162.5 mm

The shear planes are drawn at 45 from points c and d, as shown in Figure App7.2, and

vertical lines drawn from points a and b. These lines cross at points e and f, which are joined

to complete the design of the foundation.

The thickness of concrete strip in this case is 162.5 mm which may be increased to 170 mm.

Pad foundation

Pad foundation, also known as isolated foundation, is used for columns of low and medium

rise framed buildings. For light structures, plain or reinforced concrete may be used, but for

heavier structures reinforced concrete is used.

a 162.5 162.5 b
c d

e f
Shear plane

Figure App7.2 Design of strip foundation

Un-reinforced pads are designed on the basis that no tension occurs in the concrete. The

thickness is determined as explained in the design of strip foundation. Nominal reinforcement

is still required to control thermal cracking of concrete.

Example 2:
Design a pad foundation for a 300 300 mm column, carrying a load of 500 kN. The safe

bearing capacity of the subsoil is 200 kN/m2.


Column load
Area of the pad foundation = Safe bearing capacity

= 200 = 2.5 m2

A square pad is usually provided for a square column.

Side of the square pad = 2.5 = 1.6 m or 1600 mm

The thickness of the pad can be determined by drawing the shear planes at 45 as shown in

Figure App7.3. In order that the shear planes pass through the lower corners of the pad,

thickness D must be equal to projection P.

Projection P = (1600 300) 2 = 650 mm.

Thickness of pad foundation, D = P = 650 mm.

Shear plane

Figure App7.3 Design of a concrete pad

*Extract reproduced from The Building Regulations (2000), Approved Document A

Structure, Department of Communities and Local Government under the Open Government

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