How to dig a foundation

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How to dig a foundation

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Project Overview

A lot of structures are built on top of concrete footings. If you can dig the trenches for those footings, you are well on your way to laying your own foundations. We’ll show you how to properly mark out and dig the trenches for concrete footings.
Continue to step-by-step instructions

Step by Step Instructions

1 Mark the outer edge of the trench for your concrete footings
2 Dig the trench for the concrete footings
  • Step 1. Mark the outer edge of the trench for your concrete footings

    To position the outer edge of your footings correctly, get a building surveyor to place survey pegs and a string line for you. Then use line-marking paint to transfer that line onto the ground. Once the line is painted, remove the string and you are ready to dig.
  • Step 2. Dig the trench for the concrete footings

    Keep inside the painted line while digging your trench. In this case the plans call for a trench that is 400mm wide. Our shovelhead is 200mm, so we use that as a guide to measure the width of our trench as we go. Dig until your trench is as deep as your plans require. Then use the blade of your shovel to neaten up the trench walls. Once the trench is finished, get the building surveyor back to approve it and you are ready to pour your concrete footings.

Tools and Materials


  • Gloves
  • Rake
  • Shovel
  • String
  • Wheel barrow


  • Line marking paint
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