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Four Common Types of Foundation that Make Sense When You Build a House

For those of you who are probably thinking, ‘is there more than one type of foundation?’ In fact, there are many—each with their own specific benefits, depending on the terrain and other aspects of the property’s land. When you build a house it is especially important to decide which type of foundation makes the most sense for your property and house. In general, there are two different varieties of foundations—shallow and deep. These simply describe the depth of soil that you dig into before building the foundation. Today we’re partnering with our friends at VIC Underpinners to explain some of the most common types of foundations, so you can be well informed at each stage of your new house build.

Build a House With The Right Foundation

Mat Foundations

Driving through heavily populated metro areas, many of the office buildings that you see are probably built on mat foundations. Mat foundations are spread equally across the area of the building in its entirety. They support heavy structural loads with ease, especially those with many columns and walls. Conversely, mat foundations should not be used in any cases where the ground water table reaches above the soil’s bearing surface. This can quickly lead to situations with liquefaction and scour, not ideal.

Spread Footings

A spread footing looks just like it sounds. Thanks to its wide base, it can spread, or more easily distribute the weight of the building that it is supporting. it has a base wider than a typical load bearing wall foundation. You’ll see it supporting individual columns, bridge piers and walls, where the soil layer is within 10 feet from the surface of the ground. Again, spread footings should not be used in any situations where that ground water could flow above the bearing layer of soil.

Pile Foundations

Working with a deep foundation when you build a house? You’re most likely going to want to leverage a pile foundation system then. It’s a helpful way to transfer heavy loads from the structure itself to hard rock, which is found far beneath ground level. With pile foundations in place, structures can feel far less at risk from lateral loads like earthquakes.

Drilled Shafts

Drilled shafts are a great alternative to pile foundations, if you’re working with deep foundations. The notable difference? Drilled shafts are high capacity foundations. They resist loads through either shaft resistance or toe resistance, sometimes a combination of both. The drilled shafts are also called caissons and are engineered using an auger. These should be avoided when you build a house in areas where the soil is softer clay or a water-bearing granular soil.

As you can see, there are a lot of different variables at play, when determining which foundation makes the most sense for your structure. We recommend working with your builder, a structural engineer or foundation experts such as VIC Underpinners, to ensure that your building is stable and sound.

Also thinking about other structural decisions? A good one to consider is steel vs timber.

How can iBuildNew Help You Build A House?

build a house construction

If your land has specific requirements that should be addressed by builders, such as an earthquake prone location or sloped land, then it can sometimes be hard to find a builder who can cater for your needs. At iBuildNew our mission is to only connect you to the right builders and we can provide a shortlist of builders that will meet your specific  build requirements. Head over to to compare builders and house designs, or for some free tailored one-on-one advice give one of our expert consultants a call on 1800 184 284.

iBuildnew Advisory Team
Let us do the legwork for you.
  • We’ll ask the right questions to better understand your needs
  • We’ll create a recommended shortlist ideally matched to you
  • We’ll answer specific questions or concerns related to home building, land purchasing or financing

Zoe Langenberg

Zoe is passionate about coffee and interior design. You can find her most weekends exploring an art gallery or devouring a good book.


iBuildNew is the market leading aggregator dedicated to residential home construction and land development. As an independent platform, iBuildNew helps Australians identify and compare new home designs, house and land packages and land estates. It’s the smart way home buyers, who are considering a new build, can find the ideal options to match their individual needs. Home building is a big decision, we make sure you get it right.

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