Soil types you might find on your plot — and what it means for your foundations

concrete slab in ground
Soil types can affect your choice of foundations (Image credit: Cliff Newman/Getty Images)

Understanding soil types and assessing which one is on your plot is a sensible starting point for any self build journey, be it building a house from scratch or adding an extension.

If you're dealing with a site that's formed from rock, gravel or sand, and sometimes clay, your soil type is likely to be largely suitable for most types of foundation – although should find yourself building on a slope, amongst a large quantity of trees or have soil that is less stable, the build options might be more challenging and you could find yourself requiring foundations for difficult sites.

A headshot of architect Ninian MacQueen
Ninian McQueen

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.

Sarah Harley
Sarah Harley

Sarah is Homebuilding & Renovating's assistant editor with decades of self build experience. Her last big project saw her don a pink hard hat to appear on Grand Designs, project managing the renovation of a Grade II listed folly with the addition of a sweeping modern extension.

Michael Holmes

Michael is Homebuilding & Renovating's Director of Content, Vice Chair of the self build industry body, the National Custom and Self Build Association (NaCSBA), presenter of multiple property TV shows and author of Renovating for Profit (Ebury). He also runs an architectural and interior design practice, offering design and project management services. He is one of the country's leading property experts and has undertaken over 30 building projects including two self-builds and the renovation of a Grade-II listed farmhouse. 

Michael has presented over 150 property shows for BBC, ITV1, Channel 5, UK TV Style, and Discovery RealTime, including I Own Britain's Best Home; Don't Move Improve; Trading Up; Good Bid, Good Buy; Build, Buy or Restore?; How to Build A House; and Hard Sell.

Michael is also a regular expert at the Homebuilding & Renovating Shows. He has written for leading British newspapers, including The Daily Telegraph, Sunday Times, Daily Express and The Independent and has appeared on news programmes such as BBC Breakfast.

With contributions from