There are dozens of approaches to building a foundation. In order to uncomplicate things, we have narrowed down all types of foundation for houses into 3 categories. Within each, you can find links to other articles to get more specifics. We also decided to add pros and cons to each category, that way you know what you are coming up against in your next project.
If you are considering building or repairing your home soon, make sure you know this crucial information before taking your first step. Repairing or remodeling a home with foundation issues is a mistake you won’t make twice.
Here are the top 4 most common types of foundation for houses
Slab foundations are so easy you could do it in your backyard, which we recommend if you know what you are doing. Slabs are budget-friendly, simple to construct, and incredibly common. As the name suggests, this foundation is as easy as pouring a 6”-8” concrete slab on graded soil. This soil must have been prepared with a gravel overlay, to decrease the chances of a drainage issue.
Slab on grade – This is the most common slab foundation. It is created by simply pouring concrete on graded and prepared soil. The concrete is supported by an interior rebar skeleton. It may also include wire mesh near its surface to prevent hairline cracks.
T-Shaped – This slab includes concrete footings along the perimeter of the footprint of the structure below the frost line. Walls are then constructed on top of these footings to the soil line. Finally, the slab is poured on top.
Frost Protected – A rigid foam insulation is attached to the perimeter of the slab below the frost line. It is important to note that this foundation is only applicable to heated structures.
Pros of Concrete Slab Foundations
Slabs are the least expensive option when laying a foundation. In addition, a well-trained crew can pour a slab in just a few days depending on its size. Meaning your house can begin construction with maximum efficiency.
When you choose a slab foundation you can forget about termites, rodents, and mold. This is because a slab lays directly on the soil and leaves no room for any kind of infestation.
Cons of Concrete Slab Foundations
A few problems slabs commonly face include heating and sadly, poor water damage protection.
Due to direct contact with the structure and poor ventilation, slabs can experience overheating which may result in structural integrity being compromised. Though this is not severe, it is something to keep in mind.
Because slabs lay directly on the soil, without proper drainage, the perimeter is directly exposed to flooding and water damage. Which may cause shifting or sinking.
Most importantly, slab foundations do not leave access to plumbing or electrical. If for some reason a plumbing leak occurs it can cause incredibly dramatic damage to the foundation. The floor may need to be removed and portions of the slab will be removed to repair the foundation and plumbing. This destruction of the foundation will result in compromised integrity of the foundation as a whole.
2. Basement Foundation
As you may no, basements are found below grade and add extra square footage to the structure. This space is commonly used for storage, living, or working. As such, most are designed with functionality in mind, placing structural best practices as secondary. This is not to say that basements are not structurally sound, simply that their function is different and as such, so is their construction process.
When building a home with a basement foundation it is ideal to place concrete pillars along the perimeter. This is to support the homes above-ground structure.
In order to protect the basement from long term moisture problems, it is important to waterproof it entirely. It is most common to find cinder blocks or concrete walls in basements.
Pros of Basement Foundation
Consider the benefits of having an extra story in your house. That is virtually a basement, you get added square feet that can be used for whatever you may desire. In addition, because heat rises, your basement will remain cool throughout the year.
Cons of Basement Foundation
Not every gift comes free. Though you may have many benefits, you will be paying tremendously. Basement home foundations are by far the most costly foundation options.
Sadly, they are also susceptible to flooding, mold, and many other related water issues IF not properly maintained.
3. Crawl Space Foundation
Another common of the types of foundation for houses is the crawl space. It is essentially a miniature basement between 3-4 feet tall. Like basements, they feature supporting pillars along the perimeter to support the home.
They may be used when soil conditions are particularly rocky or difficult to dig through.
Pros of Crawl Space Foundation
Due to its ability to lift the home off of direct soil, a crawl space is particularly useful in areas where groundwater levels are high.
Additionally, the high levels of ventilation provide ease in the summer.
Conveniently, it may also be used for storage.
Cons of Crawl Space Foundation
If proper drainage is not installed along your home, it is very possible that water may find itself trapped in the crawlspace. This increased moisture may attract insects, lead to mold, deteriorate your foundation, and more. It is very important to properly insulate your foundation and avoid stagnant water.
The last of the types of foundation for houses is the pier foundation. While there are many different kinds of piers that may be used, the idea is the same. Piers are placed strategically along the perimeter of the home, they are then pressed into the ground until reaching a point that can support the structure. The same process is applied to the interior of the foundation. Keeping the home lifted the home 12″ off of the ground.
Pros of Pier Foundation
While they may be more expensive than slab foundations, and more difficult to lay, they last much longer and are more sturdy. Because the piers avoid water and soil influence they avoid many problems common in other foundations.
Also, because of the 12″ access below the home, pipes and electrical are more easily accessed and can be fixed without causing more damage.
Cons of Pier Foundation
The most pressing issue with pier foundations is the cost. They are by no means a steal. However, if you are looking for something that can last, this is your man.
One common problem with these types of foundation for houses is that settlement may not occur evenly. Because each pier supports a different area if one sinks it may result in more cracks, sticking doors, or doors that won’t close.
Choosing the right types of foundation for houses is incredibly important, however, they all come with their setbacks.
One factor all of these foundations have in common is that they are susceptible to water damage. Make sure to understand exactly how water can affect your home or it WILL cost you.