Foundation Design and Construction



NAVFAC DM 7.02 or DM 7.2
1 September 1986

This document is back in print; click here for information on how to order

Considered by many to be the best reference series on soil mechanics and foundations, although somewhat dated now. Published by the Naval Facilities Engineering Command (NAVFAC) in Norfolk, Virginia.

    • Open Cuts
    • Trenching
    • Braced Excavations
    • Rock Excavation
    • Groundwater Control
    • Excavation Stabilization, Monitoring, and Safety
    • Embankment Cross-Section Design
    • Compaction Requirements and Procedures
    • Embankment Compaction Control
    • Borrow Excavation
    • Hydraulic and Underwater Fills
    • Computation of Wall Pressures
    • Rigid Retaining Walls
    • Design of Flexible Walls
    • Cofferdams
    • Bearing Capacity
    • Spread Footing Design Considerations
    • Mat and Continuous Beam Foundations
    • Foundations on Engineered Fill
    • Foundations on Expansive Soils
    • Foundation Waterproofing
    • Uplift Resistance
    • Foundation Types and Design Criteria
    • Bearing Capacity and Settlement
    • Pile Installation and Load Tests
    • Distribution of Loads on Pile Groups
    • Deep Foundations on Rock
    • Lateral Load Capacity

Basics of Foundation Design

Bengt Fellenius
February 2014

This book, written by one of the acknowledged greats of geotechnical engineering, presents a background to conventional foundation analysis and design. The text concentrates on the static design for stationary foundation conditions, and intends to present most of the basic material needed for a practising engineer involved in routine geotechnical design. It emphasises two main aspects of geotechnical analysis, the use of effective stress analysis and the understanding that the vertical distribution of pore pressures in the field is fundamental to the relevance of any foundation design. Additionally the text covers cone penetration testing, settlement of foundations, vertical drains, earth stress, bearing capacity of shallow foundations, static analysis of pile load transfer and analysis of the static load test, pile dynamics, and piling terminology. Also included are worked examples and specifications and dispute avoidance.

California Foundation Manual

Caltrans Office of Structure Construction
July 1997

The Foundation Manual is intended to provide the field engineer with information that may be of some assistance in solving foundation problems and in making engineering decisions.

Although the field engineer is required to make engineering decisions throughout the life of a construction project, none is probably more important than the engineer’s decision regarding the suitability or unsuitability of the foundation material supporting a spread footing foundation. The engineer must decide if the foundation material encountered at the planned bottom of footing elevation is, in fact, representative of the material shown on the Log of Test Borings sheet and therefore suitable for the imposed loads. If not representative, the engineer must decide what action to take.

This is not to minimize the importance of pile supported foundations, which have their own unique problems that require decisions based on sound engineering judgement. What action does the engineer take when pile bearing capacity is not obtained at specified tip or reaches “refusal” ten feet above tip elevation?

All types of foundations are discussed in the manual along with related problems and possible solutions. There is no one solution that will always solve a particular problem. Each situation must be reviewed and a decision made based on the available data and one’s own experience.

There is no substitute for utilizing sound engineering judgement in solving engineering problems. If all problems are solved in this manner, then the engineer can be confident that a good solution was used to solve the problem.

Deep Foundations

UFC 3-220-01A
16 January 2004

This publication presents data, principles and method for use in planning, design and construction of deep foundations. Deep foundations are literally braced (supported) column elements transmitting structure loads down to the subgrade supporting medium.

General Information with respect to the selection and design of deep foundations is addressed herein. Single and groups of driven piles and drilled shafts under axial and lateral static loads are treated. Some example problems and the most widely accepted computer methods are introduced.

Determination of Unknown Subsurface Bridge Foundations

Larry D. Olson, Farrokh Jalinoos, and Marwan F. Aouad
Geotechnical Guideline No. 16
August 1998

Purpose: To provide interim information on available NDT methods for assessing unknown bridge foundations.

Background: The NCHRP Project 21-5 involves a study of various types of NDT equipment which could be used in subsurface investigation of unknown bridge foundations. At this stage of the research, the general aspects of several types of NDT equipment have been assessed for applicability in the unknown bridge foundation area. Although no definite conclusions can yet be reached on the reliability of these NDT methods in all situations, enough data has been collected to provide interim information to highway agencies on the general aspects of these methods.

Continuing Research: Based on the results of this report, a second phase of research was initiated. The phase II research will evaluate the validity and accuracy of some of the NDT methods researched during Phase I and to develop instrumentation for use by highway departments and agencies. The initial phase of the Phase II research was to determine the feasibility of adapting/developing practical methods and equipment for the determination of subsurface bridge foundation characteristics, particularly the depths of the foundations. The next part of the research involved semi-blind NDT studies of 20 bridges with known foundations to determine the accuracy of the methods. The final report presenting the research results is expected in the Spring of 1999.


Click on the title above to download

ELPLA (ELASTIC PLATE) is a program for analysing raft foundations of arbitrary shape with the real subsoil model. The mathematical solution of the raft is based on the finite element method. The program can analyse different types of subsoil models, especially the three-dimensional Continuum model that considers any number of irregular layers. A good advantage of this program is the capability to handle the three analyses of flexible, elastic and rigid foundations. In addition, the mesh of the rigid and flexible foundations can be constructed to be analogous to the finite elements mesh of the elastic foundation. Therefore, the three analyses can be compared easily and correctly. ELPLA can also be used to represent the effect of external loads, neighbouring foundations, tunnelling and the influence of the temperature difference on the raft.ELPLA is a 32-bit, graphical software product that operates under Microsoft Windows 95 and Windows NT. The common “what you see is what you get” of Windows applications makes it easy to learn how to use ELPLA, especially if you are already familiar with the Windows environment.

Foundation Engineering: In-the-Wet Design and Construction of Civil Works Projects

ETL 1110-2-565
30 Sep 2006

Constructing foundations in-the-wet has always presented challenges, uncertainties, and risks. Nevertheless, working in-the-wet presents not only difficulties, but also unique opportunities. Man has been dealing with both these difficulties and opportunities to install structural foundations in-the-wet since prehistoric times, and each new advance in foundation technology has resulted in the construction of ever more demanding foundations built in-the-wet, while keeping the level of risk at, or below, the threshold of acceptance for each new era of building.

In recent times engineers are minimizing risks: of delays, of cost over-runs, of claims, and of not being prepared to deal with changed subsurface conditions, by using advanced construction equipment and techniques, by minimizing the use of personnel, and by maximizing the use of prefabrication. Availability of large floating equipment has encouraged modern in-the-wet engineers to use large driven piles and drilled shafts (often socketed into rock). Indeed, offshore equipment has been used to install large diameter steel, concrete, and composite cylinder piles for major foundations in deep water and in difficult soils, safely, rapidly, and economically.

The challenge facing the modern engineer designing in-the-wet foundations is to minimize uncertainties by adequate investigation, and to minimize the risk, and the consequence of potential failures, by establishing criteria that result in redundant, flexible, and adjustable foundation designs that have benefited from the lessons learned from the past. This document is provided to assist the modern engineer in carrying on the tradition of past marine foundation success, to overcome the many challenges of in-the-wet foundation construction.

Foundations for Structures: Arctic and Subarctic Conditions

UFC 3-130-04
16 January 2004

This manual provides criteria and guidance for design of foundations for structures for military facilities in arctic and subarctic regions.

The design, construction and maintenance of foundations in these environments are all affected by special environmental conditions. These conditions typically include the following, as applicable:

  • Seasonal freezing and thawing of ground with attendant frost heaving and other effects.
  • Occurrence of permanently frozen ground subject to thawing and subsidence during and following construction.
  • Special physical behavior and properties of frozen soil, rock, and construction materials at low temperatures and under freeze-thaw action.
  • Difficulty of excavating and handling frozen ground. Poor drainage and possible excess of water during thaw caused by the presence of impervious frozen ground at shallow depths.
  • Thermal stresses and cracking. Ice uplift and thrust action. Limited availability of natural construction materials, support facilities, and labor.
  • Adverse conditions of temperature, wind, precipitation, distance, accessibility, working seasons, and cost.

While these factors are important in many other types of construction such as pavements and utilities, they merit separate consideration for foundations for structures.

Foundations in Expansive Soils

Click on the document title above to download

UFC 3-220-07
16 January 2004

TM 5-818-7 September 1983 (still available)

This manual presents guidance and information for the geotechnical investigation necessary for the selection and design of foundations for heavy and light military-type buildings constructed in expansive clay soil areas. The information in this manual is generally applicable to many types of structures such as residences, warehouses, and multi-storey buildings. Emphasis is given to the maintenance of an environment that encourages constant moisture conditions in the foundation soils during and following construction. Special attention must always be given to specific requirements of the structure such as limitations on allowable differential movement.

Geotechnical Engineering Procedures for Foundation Design of Buildings and Structures

Unified Facilities Criteria UFC 3-220-01N
15 August 2005

Replaces NAVFAC DM 7.02, available above.

This UFC presents guidance for selecting and designing foundations for buildings and facilities of all types and associated features for buildings such as earth embankments and slopes, retaining structures, and machinery foundations. Foundations for hydraulic structures are not included; however, foundations design methods for piers, wharves and waterfront structures are covered. Foundation design differs considerably from design of other elements of a structure because of the interaction between the structure and the supporting medium (soil and rock). The soil and rock medium are highly variable as compared to steel and concrete products above the soil; therefore, much attention is given to presenting subsurface investigation methods to better determine the properties of the soil and rock. The seismic aspects of foundation design are presented in detail.

Design: General Building Requirements

UFC 1-200-01
31 July 2002

This UFC provides guidance for the use of model building codes for design and construction of Department of Defense (DOD) facilities. A special feature of this document is the extensive information on wind and seismic loading, which can be otherwise difficult to locate.

Grouting Methods and Equipment

UFC 3-220-06
16 January 2004

This manual was prepared to provide guidance in the use of pressure grouting as a means to correct existing or anticipated subsurface problems. Information on procedures, materials, and equipment for use in planning and executing a grouting project i’s included, and types of problems that might be solved by pressure grouting are discussed. Methods of pressure grouting that have proven to be effective are described, and various types of grouts and their properties are listed.

Load Testing Handbook (including Pile Testing Datasheets)

Federation of Piling Specialists
February 2006

This handbook provides guidance on the principles and practical issues that relate to load testing of bearing piles, and thereby to assist informed decisions about testing requirements on construction projects involving piled foundations. This handbook will be of particular interest to civil or structural engineers with little or no experience of piling who find themselves in the position of specifying load testing requirements on a project involving piled foundations. The target audience for this publication also includes main contractors, management contractors and young piling engineers.

The document includes pile testing datasheets, which include the following:

  1. Guidance for the Principal Contractor
  2. Pile testing – interpretation
  3. Training programme for pile testing technicians
  4. The purpose of the pile load test
  5. Pile load testing – what each type of test should realistically achieve
  6. Pile load testing – basic information to be provided to the Testing Contractor
  7. Pile load testing – test cap
  8. Pile load testing – working platform
  9. Pile load testing – lone working
  10. Pile integrity testing – a good practice guide
  11. Pile integrity testing – basic information to be provided to the Testing Contractor
  12. Pile integrity testing – why it is important to allow enough time between pile testing and pile cap construction
  13. Pile integrity testing – terminology
  14. Pile integrity testing using Cross Hole Sonic Logging
  15. Pile testing – safety

Prefabricated Vertical Drains

Note: we have an entire page devoted to Vertical Drains: Sand and Wick, where this document can be accessed.

August 1986

This volume presents procedures and guidelines applicable to the design and installation of prefabricated vertical drains to accelerate consolidation of soils. The volume is intended to provide assistance to engineers in determining the applicability of PV drains to a given project and in the design of PV drain systems. The information contained herein is intended for use by civil engineers familiar with the fundamentals of soil mechanics and the principles of pre-compression.

The volume includes descriptions of types and physical characteristics of PV drains, discussion of design considerations, recommended design procedures, guideline specifications and comments pertaining to installation guidelines, construction control, and performance evaluation.


Settlement Analysis

Bonus: We also have the program VDISPL, a Windows implementation of the vertical displacement program shown in the manual.

EM 1110-1-1904
30 September 1990

This manual presents guidelines for calculation of vertical displacements and settlement of soil under shallow foundations (mats and footings) supporting various types of structures and under embankments. It is one of the more comprehensive treatments of the subject, detailing procedures such as Schmertmann’s method for settlement on cohesionless soils, Terzaghi consolidation theory and time rate of settlement for cohesive soils, a raft of “simplified” and alternative methods, and discussion of elastic theory as applied to foundations (Boussinesq theory.)

Tolerable Movement Criteria for Highway Bridges

We also feature the preliminary interim document for this, FHWA/RD-81/162, here.

Lyle K. Moulton, Hota V. S. GangaRao, and Grant T. Halvorsen
October 1985

This investigation included:

  1. a state-of-the-art assessment of tolerable bridge movements based on a literature review, an appraisal of existing design specifications and practice, the collection and analysis of field data on foundation movements, structural damage and the tolerance to movements for a large number of bridges (314) in the United States and Canada, and an appraisal of the reliability of the methods currently used for settlement prediction;
  2. a series of analytical studies to evaluate the effect of different magnitude and rates of differential movement on the potential level of distress produced in a wide variety of steel and concrete bridge structures of different span lengths and stiffnesses; and
  3. the development of a methodology for the design of bridges and their foundations that embodies a rational set of criteria for tolerable bridge movements.

Underwater Geotechnical Foundations

Landris T. Lee, Jr., Richard W. Peterson
Geotechnical and Structures Laboratory
U.S. Army Engineer Research and Development Center
December 2001

The purpose of this report is to provide an overview of underwater geotechnical foundation design and construction and preliminary guidance based on past and current technology applications. Most of the state-of-the-art technology comes from the marine offshore industry, because of its complex foundation engineering challenges in the deep-ocean frontier. Direct applications may or may not be made to underwater foundations based in shallower rivers and inland waterways, but most of the principles, techniques, and equipment are related.

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