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When the average person thinks of a foundation, the basement walls of their home likely come to mind. A basement wall, or foundation wall, is the part of a structure that resists loading from lateral earth pressures caused by soil built up against it, but it also transfers the buildings load from the structure above down to the earth below. There are two categories of foundations that are used to transfer building loads to the ground: shallow and deep foundations. The type of soil and its conditions help structural engineers determine which type of foundation is best suited for a particular structure.
Foundations are one of the most important components of a buildings structure. It is unfortunate that the soils that the building loads are transferred to can be so variable from one location to another. To reduce the risk involved with foundations, it is always recommended to have a geotechnical engineer perform a soils investigation. They will be able to provide a good recommendation as to what foundations to use based on the type of soil encountered. For most new buildings, depending on your jurisdiction you will not be able to get a building permit without a geotechnical report or recommendation based on engineers experience.