Purchasing a home is exciting. There are a lot of decisions to be made and a lot of thought to be put into them. Perhaps one of the most important things you’ll be faced with is what type of foundation should be beneath your house. It’s important to be knowledgeable about all types of foundations and what makes them different from the rest.
Here are the pros and cons of the five types of foundation to get you started:
Homes with basements begin with a hole around 8 feet deep, ending with a concrete slab. The walls of the basement are usually formed by cinder blocks and the entire process is done in three portions: first, the beams are poured, then the walls, and finally the slab inside the walls. This process helps keep the basement foundation waterproof. Houses with basements can also increase the value of the home because it adds extra square footage. Another reason why basement foundations are preferred is because they are so durable. Especially with high resistance to fire and extreme weather conditions.
A basement is perfect to keep your furnace and water heater, too. You’ll have easy access to these appliances as well as to the pipes and ducts in this space, making it easier to maintain them and make repairs. The basement also gives you a convenient place to put the washer and dryer to free up space in your main living area.
Homes with crawl space foundations are elevated off the floor by approximately two feet. Typically, this foundation is built with a cinder block and a brick facing. This type of foundation is preferred in moist climates where water is likely to accumulate. Because the house is lifted off the ground, it is less likely to be damaged by the water that piles up. Do keep in mind that crawl space foundations are prone to mold and fungi build up because of the moist environment created by the empty space.
A crawl space must be properly insulated and maintained to prevent problems with moisture, mold, cold drafts, and pests. Depending on your climate and your home’s design, this could mean adding a vapor barrier and rigid foam insulation as well as vents or completely enclosing the space and sealing the vents, then installing a sump pump and dehumidifier.
Pier and Beam
This foundation involves wood posts or concrete piers set deep into the ground that bear the weight of the building. A pier and beam foundation does not rest directly on the ground, instead, it is elevated about 18” above, with utility units for plumbing and electricity installed in this crawlspace. Because of this foundation’s structure, homeowners also need to be careful of sagging and creaking in the floors.
A slab foundation is essentially a flat, concrete pad poured onto the ground at a home site. Very little preparation is needed in order to begin working on a slab foundation, and the actual installation is very simple. Concrete is formatted into a beam that runs about 2 feet deep around the perimeter of the slab foundation, while the remaining portions of the foundation are at most 6 inches thick. Within the concrete foundation, wire mesh and steel reinforcing bars are installed.
No open space under the house means less risk of infestation by termites, mice, and other pests. Because slab foundations don’t rely on beams for support, they’re exceptionally sturdy. They require only minimal digging, so they’re perfect for rocky or heavy soils were digging a crawl space or basement would be impractical.
Water, natural gas, and drainage pipes are often embedded within the concrete, and when these pipes wear out and leak, the foundation will have to be opened so repairs can be made. Slab foundations are vulnerable to pressure caused by freezing and thawing ground, so they’re best used in warmer climates where the ground rarely freezes. Because they can’t protect the house from floodwaters the way a crawl space or basement can, they’re not ideal for flood-prone areas.
While traditional basement walls are made from masonry materials such as concrete or stone, buyers should be prepared to encounter permanent wood foundations while they search for their new home. When pressure-treated wood was developed in the 1960s, it became possible for wood to be used in foundation walls without being vulnerable to damage from insects and moisture.
To sum up, regardless of the style and curb appeal of your home, the foundation is the key part in making sure you’re getting the most for your money and that you’re making a smart investment choice.