What are the Different Types of Foundations?
Your home’s foundation is a vital part of your home. The foundation is what the entire building rests on and impacts the soundness and stability of your house. What are the different types of foundations?
There are various kinds of home foundations – each with its pros and cons. Here’s what you need to know about the different types of home foundations available.
Pier-and-beam foundations are also known as crawlspace foundations. This type of foundation has a height of approximately two to four feet, meaning you literally have to crawl (sometimes on your stomach) to access.
Pier-and-beam foundations are elevated off the ground by placing wood posts or concrete blocks in holes along the perimeter of the building. These serve as the piers. The beams are laid on the piers to form the foundation.
Pros of a Pier-And-Beam Foundation
- Ideal for moist climates. Since the house is elevated above ground-level, this type of foundation is great for moist climates, where water may accumulate.
- Fewer termite infestations. Termites need to get through the crawlspace before accessing the wood of the main house. It is easier to identify and rectify any termite damage.
- Easier access. Crawl spaces allow enough space to store wiring, ductwork, piping, and other equipment. It is easy for workers to access in the case of repairs or upgrades.
- Easier to build and less expensive than full basement foundations.
Cons of a Pier-And-Beam Foundation
- Mold, mildew, and fungi buildup. The confined empty space creates a humid environment, making it more prone to mold, mildew, and fungi.
- Not deep in the earth. Pier-and-beam foundations are not set deep into the ground. As a result, crawl space foundations are not recommended in areas that are prone to earthquakes or strong winds, such as hurricanes or tornadoes.
Slab-on-grade foundations are one of the most common types of foundations. It consists of a solid concrete slab that lays flat on ground -level or “grade.”
A thick slab of concrete is poured directly on the ground. The perimeter of the slab is usually thicker than the center to help distribute the weight of the exterior walls. The foundation is reinforced with wire mesh and steel bars.
Pros of a Slab-On-Grade Foundation
- Least expensive option. Slab-on-grade foundations are usually the least expensive type of foundation.
- Ideal for areas not suitable for crawl spaces or basements. In areas where the integrity of the soil is not suitable for crawl spaces or basements, slab-on-grade foundations are an ideal alternative.
- No empty space. Since slab-on-grade foundations are not elevated, pests and small animals cannot make a home underneath your house.
Cons of a Slab-On-Grade Foundation
- Not recommended for freezing climates. Since freezing temperatures may cause the slab to shift, slab-on-grade foundations are customarily used in warmer climates.
- Difficult to access water supply and drainage pipes. Most pipes are encased in the concrete slab. As a result, you would need to cut into the concrete slab in order to access the pipes, making repairs more expensive.
- No storage space. Slab foundations do not offer any storage space, even for equipment.
Full Basement Foundation
A full basement foundation is the deepest foundation in the ground. Many basements are at least six feet high. They can double as extra storage or living space.
A full basement foundation uses mortared concrete blocks or poured concrete that ends in a concrete slab. The beams, or footings, and walls are below the property’s frost line, or the point where the ground freezes in the winter.
Pros of a Full Basement Foundation
- More square footage. Basement foundations offer extra storage and even additional living space when finished. Additionally, the basement may be more energy-efficient because it stays warmer in the winter and cooler in the summer than in other parts of the house.
- Easier for repairs. Technicians have easy access to your utilities and equipment. They do not need to crawl in your crawl space or dig into a concrete slab.
- Weather protection. Basements are deep into the earth, which serve as excellent shelters during natural disasters. It also serves as a solid anchor to keep your home on the ground during strong winds.
Cons of a Full Basement Foundation
- Most expensive foundation option. A full basement is arguably the most expensive option compared to pier-and-beam and slab-on-grade foundations. Additionally, finishing your basement will cost extra.
- Potential flooding. While poured concrete walls usually keep the basement waterproof, there is always the threat of flooding.
- Lack of natural light. If you’re considering converting your basement into living space, one primary concern is the lack of natural light. Some basements are “walkouts” or “daylight basements.” These basements are built against a slope so that one or more sides are entirely embedded in the ground. However, parts of the foundation are exposed, allowing for windows and doors to bring in natural light.
While each different type of foundation has distinctive advantages and disadvantages, no one kind is notably better than the other. Instead, it’s essential to consider the topography of your land, your personal preference, and your budget.