3.3 Preparing the ground


image: Pile foundations

A geotechnical engineer works out the bearing capacity of the soil. That is, how much load it can bear. This information helps the structural engineer to work out the right type and size of foundations.

  • Use the internet to find out more about bearing capacity.
  • What information do you also need about the building?
  • What units are used?

Foundations spread the load of the building and transfer this load to firmer ground below – the bearing stratum.

Explore each type of foundation. Each one will open a pop-up window:

You are a structural engineer working with a design team. They have a number of projects underway. What foundation would you suggest for:

  • a 15 storey office building
  • a single-storey visitor centre on sandy ground
  • a timber-framed sustainable house
  • a block and brick three-bedroom house?

Foundations often require deep trenches.

  • Why can trenches present a danger to people working nearby, or in them?
  • Explain how a trench support system works to reduce this danger.




Log in to save your work and track your progress. Ask your teacher for your user name and password.

Functional skills

  • Use the internet to find out more if you’re not sure.
  • Work out the average response to each question.
  • Explain your decision using the right technical language.

College construction sequence