Spike's Calculators

Steps Involved in Building a House

Footings & Foundations

If you haven't already done so you must soon choose the type of doors, windows, garage doors, siding or stucco, trim, brick, furnace, fireplace, cabinets, bathtub & shower.

Concrete Volume Calculators: Footings, Foundations, Slabs and More

9. Engineering

In certain conditions an engineer may be required; City Hall, your General Contractor or yourself may feel there is something about the house or lot which requires a stamp of approval from an engineer.

  • When building on a slope you may want an engineer to determine what it takes to keep your house in place. For example, foundation walls may require additional steel, or you may have to use a stronger type of concrete. Using an Engineer might seem a bit costly at times, but it will keep everything in the proper conditions and you may just end up with one of the happier houses in the neighborhood.
  • Any basement that has (backfilled) foundation walls higher than 7'-8' needs engineering.

10. Excavating


When the framer or the surveyor has marked where the house will be situated on the lot the excavator comes in and digs the hole for the foundation.

Optional: Surveying

Although it may cost a bit more, in a tight situation you may want a surveyor to mark the corners of the house. Most areas require a survey to be done after the foundation is in. If you get them to come before you start with the footings it will cost only a little more but it could save you a lot of money and frustration. Many a foundation has had to be moved or entirely redone because it was in the wrong spot.

  • You may want to dig the service hookups at this time. Ask the Plumber and Electrician about this.
  • The plumber will do the Storm, Sanitary Sewer, and Water Connections. These will have to be inspected by a City Inspector, and the Water Company will want to see the water connection.
  • The electrician will lay pipes for Cable, BC Tel, and any electrical connections. The wires and cables will be pulled through by the respective Utilities at a later time.
  • The connection can be dug at a later time if necessary.

11. Sand & Gravel

Depending on the excavated soil, you will need good sand, pit run and drain rock.

  • All slabs should have a minimum of 6" of gravel fill under it.
  • In certain conditions, you will have to bring in some fill. Either to raise the level of dirt or because of unstable dirt. This layer (usually pit run) will have to be compacted and leveled. Do not be cheap with this; make sure you do a good job. Compacting equipment can be rented from a rental company. Just make sure that you get the proper size equipment for the job.

12. Foundation


Order the materials needed for the foundation from the lumber yard and the Forms from the Concrete company. When the materials arrive the framers can begin with the foundation.

Calculate the amount of concrete that you will need for your foundation: Imperial: Concrete Calculator; Metric: Concrete Calculator

  • Do not try to save money by ordering all the building materials at this time. You will be the one that will have to move it when it gets in the way. Lumber yards will split the materials up into two or three (or as many as you like) packages.

13. Plumbing, Heating and Electrical

Contact Plumbing, Heating and Electrical trades so that they can install anything that is needed before the concrete is poured.

  • Example: For a Legal Suite, the Electrician may have to lay a cable inside the concrete.
  • Try not to get too frustrated when waiting for any of these people. Some of the block-outs are for their convenience. If they don't want to do them at this time they can dig them out later (but would you want to be the one digging? HaHa). Things happen, be nice.

14. Footings Inspection

When the framers have finished laying the footing contact City Hall and request a Footings Inspection.

  • Some framers will pour the concrete for the footings first and then the foundation, while others will prefer to pour the concrete for the footings and the foundations at the same time.

16. Strip Foundation

stripping the foundation

Usually, the day after the concrete has been poured the foundation can be stripped. The Concrete company should be called to pick up their forms.

  • Try to place the stripped materials in a place where they are out of the way and will stay straight and clean.

17. Damp Proofing

damp proofing

Waterproofing is required on the part of the foundation where the slab or skim coat is below grade level.

  • It can be messy. Just lean against a sprayed wall.

18. Drain Tile

putting drain around the foundation

Drain Tile will have to be placed around the perimeter of your house whenever there is a living space below grade level (ground level). This includes storage or crawl space.

  • Rules concerning drainage depend on soil conditions or type of house. In most slab on grade situations (where the concrete floor is above grade level) you might be able to eliminate drain tile. But it never hurts to install it.
  • This work is usually done by you, with good wheelbarrows, shovels and lots of friends.
  • The top of the Drain Tile should be placed even with the footing/foundation joint.
  • In some municipalities with storm sewers, you will not be allowed to hook your downpipes into the perimeter drain. The same goes if you have a drain installed in a well-window. You will have to put in a second line and drain it into a gravel pit.
  • Make sure this job is done properly; it may just prevent you from getting a swimming pool in your basement.

19. Drain Tile Inspection

The inspector from City Hall.

20. Sewer & Water Hook-Ups

The plumber usually hooks up the sewer and water. When this is completed the Inspector from City Hall will be called for an inspection. Also, the local Water Company must inspect the water hook-up before it is covered.

  • In case this wasn't done during the excavation.
  • Note: the gas company will install their own hookups to the gas meter.

21. Backfilling & Grading

building a house - compacting

After the drain tile has been inspected the backfilling and grading can be done in most cases.

Note: Again, although at times overlooked, a well-prepared foundation for your house and driveway will be one of your best investments. As a builder, you will be the one responsible for this. If you are not capable or willing to take this responsibility, hire an engineer or you may want to consider getting a General Contractor involved. Again it may cost a bit; I for one would not fool around with this part. In any case, use common sense and ask when in doubt.

  • Use good material for inside the foundation, garage, driveway, and sidewalks. Do not skimp on the compacting of these areas.
  • Steel will help with strengthening and keeping things in place. But due to settling, you will most likely end up with some cracks in your slab or garage floor with time. Most of the cracks can be fixed.

22. Slab or Skim Coat

Weather permitting your skim coat or slab could now be poured.

Calculate the amount of concrete needed for your slab:

Imperial: Concrete Calculator for Slabs;    Metric: Concrete Calculator for Slabs

Poly to seal against Radon Gas  Concrete slab
  • Slab or Skim Coat: consists of a layer of gravel, poly (which must be sealed against Radon Gas), and then a layer of concrete.
  • A skim coat can be finished by yourself. But for a slab, hire a professional concrete finisher. Note: It is possible, except for a tight crawl space that the concrete work can be done after the framing is completed. The only difference is that you may get away with using a pump most of the time at this stage, not very likely at a later time.
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