1. Obtain the required information concerning the nature of the superstructure and the loads to be transmitted to the foundation.
2. Obtain the subsurface soil conditions.
3. Explore the possibility of constructing any one of the types of foundation under the existing conditions by taking into account (i) the bearing capacity of the soil to carry the required load, and (ii) the adverse effects on the structure due to differential settlements. Eliminate in this way, the unsuitable types.
4. Once one or two types of foundation are selected on the basis of preliminary studies, make more detailed studies. These studies may require more accurate determination of loads, subsurface conditions and footing sizes. It may also be necessary to make more refined estimates of settlement in order to predict the behavior of the structure.
5. Estimate the cost of each of the promising types of foundation, and choose the type that represents the most acceptable compromise between performance and cost.