What are pad foundations, why are they used and what do they cost?

digging foundations
(Image credit: Getty Images)

Foundations are a crucial part of most structural systems, as they support the weight of the building acting upon it. The main job of a foundation is therefore to transfer that imposed structural load into the surrounding ground as efficiently and evenly as possible. The type of ground surrounding the proposed development, or more specifically its ‘load bearing capacity’, will affect what foundation systems will be selected by the design team and then built by the contractor. 

Each foundation type has a small range of advantages and drawbacks, which make them better at negating the potential for settlement or subsidence in different ground conditions. It is therefore very important to the success of a building project to choose the most appropriate foundation type as early on in a project as possible. 

Ninian MacQueen


Ninian MacQueen is an ARB registered, and RIBA chartered, architect. He studied at the Mackintosh School of Architecture in Glasgow, before completing his ‘Part 3’ at the Bartlett School of Architecture in London. He worked for four Stirling Prize winners – including Richard Rogers, Norman Foster and AHMM architects – as well as smaller firms, before starting his own private practice: Borderland Studio. His designs have contributed to super tall towers, city master plans, infrastructure projects, and many others in countries such as India, Russia, China, Nigeria, Canada and the UK.