Convinced there had to be an easier way to form concrete footings, builder Richard Fearn invented and patented two fabric forming systems that overcome many of the disadvantages of using lumber. Both are sold by Fearn's company, Fastfoot Industries Ltd., Surrey, British Columbia, Canada.

The first product, the Fastfoot Pad, is a nonwoven polypropylene bag with a hole in the top. To form a footing pad, workers simply place the bag in position on the ground and fill it by pumping concrete through the hole. No leveling of the ground is needed because the concrete-filled fabric conforms to uneven surfaces. The bag is left in place, which helps prevent rapid drying of the concrete and eliminates the need for form stripping.

The second product, the Fastfoot Strip Footing System, reportedly allows three workers to install 100 lineal feet of wall footing in an hour. The system uses a woven, coated polyethylene fabric that's stapled to 2x4 lumber supported by steel yokes. The lumber later serves as kicker plates for the wall forms. As with the pad system, the concrete-filled fabric footing form conforms to uneven ground. A single width of fabric can accommodate changes in ground height of up to a foot; lines on the fabric serve as adjustment guides.