Pouring a concrete foundation to build a home or other structure is not a job you want to take on lightly. Hiring a professional contractor ensures that the work is completed correctly and meets local building code requirements. Because of the need for expertise and heavy equipment such as backhoes and cement mixers, installing a concrete foundation usually costs a minimum of $3,000 and often much more. Overall pricing depends on the location, the size of the foundation, the grade (slope) where the foundation will be laid, whether it’s for a crawl space or a basement and a variety of other factors. Typically, when building a new structure, contractors will include the cost of pouring a concrete foundation in their overall project bid. Many contractors specialize in concrete and masonry, while others can handle any building-related job.
Foundations are described as "deep," those that need to be deeper than three feet into the earth, or “shallow,” as in standard slab-on-grade foundations, which consist of a single layer of concrete poured on a flat surface over a layer of gravel for drainage. Slab-on-grade foundations are the most straightforward and affordable and tend to cost anywhere from $5–$8 per square foot. Costs are higher if you need to dig and pour footings for a crawl space under the structure or if the structure will have a basement that can be used as living space—both require more excavation, as well as additional materials and other costs.
Footings, which are relatively shallow columns of concrete dug into the ground at the edges of a foundation to support architectural features such as stairs, tend to add about $150 per footing to the total cost.
Most licensed contractors help clients navigate the process of applying for necessary building permits. Some will even acquire permits for their clients, with an added fee to cover their time as well as all permit fees.
Pouring a foundation for a structure that will have a basement is more complicated and expensive than a standard foundation because contractors generally add concrete walls to define the basement space and separate it into rooms. A full basement can add $13,000–$30,000 or more to the total cost of building a new structure, depending on the width and height of the walls and whether the space includes utility hookups, windows and other features.
Building on a sharp grade requires that the foundation is secured with deeper footings or other methods, all of which cost more. Similarly, if the area on which the foundation is to be laid needs to be leveled beforehand, costs will increase by about $2,000 and extend the project timeline by a couple of days.
Various add-ons can increase costs as well, including radiant heating for the floors ($2–$3 per square foot), a foundation drain ($3,000) and proper sealing to keep out moisture (about 5 cents per square foot). These extras add to the overall costs but are much cheaper to do when the foundation is being laid than later on.
- As with all building projects, it’s a good idea to get a few estimates, check each contractor’s references and make sure they are licensed and bonded.