The foundation is the first part of a house that is built during construction, and it is the most important structure for the stability of the building. Home foundations vary according to the design of the house, the soil in the location, and the climate in the area.
Knowing the different types of home foundations can help you make a better choice if you are about to buy a new home. If you already live in your own house, says Granite Foundation Repair in Frisco, that knowledge will tell you what kind of foundation you have and how to better maintain it.
Common home foundation and its pros and cons
There are three common types of house foundations:
- Basement foundations
- Crawlspace foundations
- Slab foundations
This is a hollow below ground structure that is often used as storage, living space, home gym, or other uses. It is created by digging a hole into the ground to a depth of at least eight feet. The hole has a concrete slab at the bottom and the walls are made of poured concrete. Basements extend well below the frost line, which is good for maintaining the integrity of the foundation.
- Basements create additional space, which can be the same square footage as the first floor. This additional space is obtained at a lower cost than the rest of the house.
- The basement serves as an additional living space that is energy-efficient, cool in summer, and warm in winter.
- A basement offers easy access for repairs. Due to the size of the space, a technician can do their work on their feet instead of crawling.
- Basements offer safe shelters from severe storms and anchor the home even in the worst weather.
- It is possible to build a basement on a sloping grade.
- Homes with basement foundations have higher resale value.
- The cost of building a house with a basement foundation is higher due to the additional labor and material.
- There is a potential risk of the basement getting flooded. Without a sump pump, this is a very real possibility.
- Basement spaces have issues with a lack of natural light (unless it is a walkout basement). This can potentially limit its use as a living space.
- There is a greater risk of radon poisoning in homes with basement foundations because the foundation is more likely to trap the gas.
Crawl space foundation
A crawl space foundation is elevated a few feet – sometimes up to four feet – off the ground. To make a slab foundation, the concrete footing is poured before piers are laid on top. A block or poured concrete wall is laid on the footing around the perimeter of the structure to create an enclosure. The trusses for the home are laid on the piers and the first floor of the building is built on top of that. Crawlspaces cost less than basement foundations but take the same amount of time to build.
- Crawlspaces provide easy access to the home’s wiring, piping, and ductwork located inside the foundation. But unlike working in a basement, a technician will have to crawl while doing their work.
- The floor is warmer in a home with a crawlspace than in a home with a slab foundation, because the first floor is not built on concrete.
- Crawlspaces are not energy efficient compared to a slab foundation.
- Considering that it doesn’t create additional living space like a basement foundation and often costs twice as much as a slab foundation, a crawlspace is actually expensive.
- In areas with clay soil, a crawlspace will cause foundation movement and damage to walls, ceilings, and flooring, unless it is kept perfectly dry.
- It is prone to moisture issues and therefore more likely to promote the growth of mold.
- Crawls spaces offer no protection from storms.
This is a pad of concrete poured directly over the ground. It does not require excavation like a basement or crawlspace. Typically, a concrete footing is poured two feet below grade, then two layers of block are laid on the footing. After rock filler is added, four inches of concrete is poured to create the foundation. Because it requires very little prep work, this is the most common type of foundation.
- It is cheaper than a basement and crawlspace foundations.
- It offers no space for pests and animals to hide underneath the home.
- It requires the least amount of maintenance.
- Since the home is closer to the ground, it is easier for people with handicaps to enter the home.
- Slabs can crack and undermine the structural integrity of the house.
- It offers no protection from storms.
- Instead of hiding underneath the home, pests can gain direct access into the home.
- Since the plumbing is buried in the ground beneath the foundation, plumbing repairs can be very expensive.