Bulkheads usually come in kits. Lay out the pieces first and follow the directions step by step, and it should only take you four hours or so build. Before you secure all the bolts, make sure the doors close and latch properly. Then seal the base with mortar. Slope the edges to keep your bulkhead watertight and your basement dry.
For home sites, the bottom line is pretty simple: You want soil that has good bearing capacity, exerts relatively low lateral pressure, and drains well, so that you can have a stable, dry foundation. The best natural soils for these purposes are sands and gravels. Silts and clays are fair, but the softest ones are poor. Then there are soils such as peat, expansive clay, and improperly deposited fill, which are so bad that they must usually be removed and replaced – often at considerable cost to you.