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Basics of Frost Protected Shallow Foundation Design

Andrew J. Bibb, P.E.

Course Outline

Shallow Frost Protected Foundations are a cost effective alternative to conventional spread footings constructed below the frost line of the locality.  This course will review the theory and the ASCE Standard (ASCE 32) adopted by reference into the IBC code for this type of foundation.  The Revised Builder's Guide to Frost Protected Shallow Foundations published by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development includes much of ASCE 32 and will be used as a companion document to the course notes.  The course covers typical construction details and includes worked out examples showing how to put ASCE 32 into use.   

The course covers the following topics:

This course includes a multiple-choice quiz at the end, which is designed to enhance the understanding of the course materials.

Learning Objective

At the conclusion of this course, the student will:

Intended Audience

This course is intended for structural engineers and architects.

Benefit to Attendees

At the end of this course the attendee will have the personal knowledge and data to design IBC code approved, cost effective, shallow frost protected foundations for their clients.

Course Introduction

Section 1805.2.1 of the International Building Code, both 2003 and 2006 editions, requires foundations for all but the most minor of structures to be constructed in such a manner that they will not be adversely affected by freezing of the surrounding and supporting soils.  This protection can be achieved by constructing the foundations on bedrock, constructing the foundations so the bottom of footing is below the frost depth of the locality, or by protecting the foundation per the requirements of ASCE 32.  This course will cover the basics of the last method. 

Course Content

The course content is in the following PDF file:

Basics of Frost Protected Shallow Foundation Design

In addition to the course notes the HUD Builders guide will need to be downloaded from this link and studied

Revised Builder’s Guide to Frost Protected Shallow Foundations

Please click on the above underlined hypertext to view, download or print the document for your study. Because of the large file size, we recommend that you first save the file to your computer by right clicking the mouse and choosing "Save Target As ...", and then open the file in Adobe Acrobat Reader.

You may need to download Acrobat Reader to view and print the document.

Course Summary

Frost protected shallow foundations can be a cost effective alternative to constructing foundations below the frost line.  This course and the HUD builders guide will show how to design a code compliant shallow frost protected foundation.

Related Links

For additional information related to this subject, please visit the following websites or web pages:


Once you finish studying the above course content, you need to take a quiz to obtain the PDH credits.

Take a Quiz

DISCLAIMER: The materials contained in the online course are not intended as a representation or warranty on the part of PDH Center or any other person/organization named herein. The materials are for general information only. They are not a substitute for competent professional advice. Application of this information to a specific project should be reviewed by a registered architect and/or professional engineer/surveyor. Anyone making use of the information set forth herein does so at their own risk and assumes any and all resulting liability arising therefrom.