What to Consider When Selecting the Right Foundation for Metal Building

Foundation for Metal Building
  • Author: Fazal Umer
  • Posted On: September 1, 2023
  • Updated On: November 30, 2023

As the infamous quote says, “A house must be built on a solid foundation if it is to last.” So is your metal building. You don’t have to worry about unwanted pests, termites, decaying posts & frames with a metal structure.

But constructing anything on your property requires a lot of work, including legal ones. Keeping that in mind, let’s begin our journey of understanding the types of building foundations, how they are made & which one to choose.

What is a steel building foundation?

A foundation is a firm base on which a building stay put. Basically, it is an underpinning of your steel building. You can find details on the foundation in International Building Codes (ICC).

Is foundation essential for constructing metal structures?

Normally, the answer would be – yes. However, there are some exceptions, viz., a small metal garden shed or a simple steel carport. These exceptional are too subjected to location, local authorities’ guidelines & weather conditions.

What are the types of building foundations?

Having clarified some basics above, let’s move on to the central theme. The types of building foundations can be divided into two categories based on structure/ construction & raw material used. Let’s see them one by one.

Based on structure:


  • It is made up of concrete with a thickness of about 3.5 minimum to 6 inches.
  • Usually, they are placed on the sand to allow for drainage.
  • These are the most popular type of foundation.
  • It does not require digging or piers.
  • It is recommended for areas like the coast & soft soil.

Pier & Footing

  • It is made using a concrete pier to support the main structure.
  • It is an expensive option but quite sturdy.
  • It requires digging deep within the soil where concrete is poured along with a steel post.
  • They are generally made for semi open structures like horse arenas, livestock, etc.  
  • It is used mostly in agricultural barns to handle the vertical load of the structure.

Perimeter Wall

  • It is made using concrete.
  • They are poured along the border of the structure.
  • It is used along with concrete slab or pier footing.
  • It provides extra support to the structure during natural disasters.


  • As the name suggests, they are movable. It is made using an industrial plate.
  • If you like your metal carport to be transported, a mobile foundation is the best option.
  • They are less sturdy but extremely flexible.
  • They are the most affordable of all.

Based on material:


  • These are the most affordable ones. You just have to level up the site. That’s it.
  • Things are in contact with the direct ground. Hence, you can’t store something that rots, decay or are delicate.
  • It can be used as a base for agricultural purposes or as a garden shed. You can use it for your carport base if you live in a fair climate throughout the year.


  • It is an affordable option too.
  • They have better drainage than soil. They can be easily re-level if they shift with time.
  • It can be used as a foundation for sheltering vehicles & are suitable for a carport.


  • These are firm flooring options.
  • They require maintenance.
  • It is suitable for heavy wind & rain areas.


  • These are the most reliable & robust foundation types.
  • In the majority of cases, concrete is used.
  • It is the most secure base.

What are the factors that determine which steel building foundation will be suitable?

How can you know which foundation type will be best for you? Let’s see some factors to consider when choosing a steel building foundation.

  • Type of soil,
    • For soil type sand, gravel – the best foundation would be dirt or gravel.
    • For soil type clay, slit – a good choice would be asphalt.
    • For soil type, loam, rock, bedrock, peat – concrete would be the best option.
  • frost line of your location,
  • the total load on the foundation,
  • length, width & height, i.e., the size of thy metal structure,
  • and lastly, your site.

How to prepare for the construction of a foundation?

Following are the simple steps to prepare your property for foundation:

  • Get a building permit from the local authority first.
  • Clean the site. Remove rocks, boulders, plantations & trees.
  • Level the area where the foundation is to be constructed.
  • It would be best to take a survey of your land before construction.

Finally, it all adds up to this:

The foundation is one of the most basic yet crucial tasks when installing your metal structure. The whole structural integrity of the building depends on it. Usually, metal buildings do not come with an instruction manual for pouring the foundation.

So, it would be best if you reach out to an expert for help. Foundation costs will also vary with the size & location of your property. You can also discuss foundation requirements with your metal dealer. They will surely give you the best advice.

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Author: Fazal Umer

Fazal is a dedicated industry expert in the field of civil engineering. As an Editor at ConstructionHow, he leverages his experience as a civil engineer to enrich the readers looking to learn a thing or two in detail in the respective field. Over the years he has provided written verdicts to publications and exhibited a deep-seated value in providing informative pieces on infrastructure, construction, and design.