Frederick Thomas Sheffield, 59, the president and founder of Old Dominion Builders Inc., a home construction firm in Northern Virginia, died of cancer Wednesday at his home in Alexandria.

Mr. Sheffield was born in Waverly, Va. He moved to Alexandria in 1939, and worked for the Holland Enginerring Co. During World War II, he served in an Army Air Corps engineering battalion in the China-Burma-India theater.

After the war, he returned to this area and went to work for the William H. Singleton Company, a sheetmetal fabricating business. In 1957, he cofounded Pierce-Sheffield Inc., a sheet-metal company. In 1964, Mr. Sheffield formed Projects Inc., a home-building company. This became Old Dominion Builders Inc., and Mr. Sheffield headed it until his death. Mr. Sheffield was a former president of the Washington chapter of the Sheet Metal Contractors Association. He also was a member and former vice president of the Mount Vernon Kiwanis Club and a member of the Belle Haven Country Club.

Survivors include his wife, the former Henrietta (Peggy) Planck, of Alexandria; two sons, Scott Emerson, of Burke, and Steven, of Mount Vernon; two brothers, Grover C., of Tupelo, Miss., and Cecil H., of Richmond, and two granddaughters.

The family suggests that expressions of sympathy be in the form of contributions to the Vincent T. Lombardi Cancer Research Center, Georgetown University Hospital, Washington, 20007, or to Christ Episcopal Church, Alexandria.