Pros & Cons of Different Foundation Types: Which is Best For You?
Most homeowners or potential home buyers don't think twice about what kind of foundation their home is or will be built on. The biggest concern is whether the foundation is cracked or damaged in some way, but it can still be interesting to find out what kind of foundation your home was built on and why. Or, if you are having a home built, you have the option to research into what kind of foundation could be ideal for the new home.
Concrete slab foundations are one of the most common, and are fairly self-explanatory. Concrete slab foundations are created by pouring concrete into a big slab reinforced by drainage pipes and rebar (structural steel rods). Generally, the slab is poured all at once as one large piece and is generally between four and eight inches thick. This is one of the most common foundation types in home building nowadays, but they may not be appropriate for areas with a lot of frost. For areas with little or no frostline, this is a very efficient and cost-effective option.
Crawl Space Foundation
When the soil is hard and tough to dig through, crawl space foundations provide a solution by sitting on top of the soil. With this foundation, homes are built on top of small pillar-like structures a few feet off of the ground that are structurally similar to a miniature basement. Crawl space foundations are ideal for places that have a high groundwater level and flood concerns because the house itself is elevated a few feet off the ground. The air trapped in crawl space foundations can help keep the home cooler in the summer, but may also make it more difficult to heat in the winter, so this type of foundation isn't ideal for very cold climates. The main negative of a crawl space is if it isn't sealed correctly, it can store stagnant water and additional moisture, potentially causing mold or decay that can affect the health of the residents.
Pier foundations are one of the sturdiest foundation types because they shift the weight of the building deep into the ground. While they are one of the most long-lasting solutions, pier foundations are also associated with sagging floors over time since the structure isn't equally supported. Foundations where the house is elevated from the floor also tend to be more expensive, and pier foundations are no exception. They are mostly for commercial and industrial projects, but they can be cost-effective for large residential projects in locations with sticky clay soil or where traditional foundations are hard to lay.
Basements are popular in many parts of the world where underground water tables are lower and there's room to dig. The pillars in a well-built basement structure provide excellent support for the house, and basements themselves can be used for general storage or made into entirely separate rooms or living spaces. Basements add a lot of square footage without adding to the bulk of the home, and the cooler air below ground can help keep the home above cool during the winter. However, basement foundations are the most expensive types of foundation and can accrue major costs down the line if not properly installed and maintained.
While most Kingstowne homeowners won't be able to pick their foundation, you can familiarize yourself with the pros and cons of each type to better prepare your home against future issues. It's also fascinating to look at our home from a structural standpoint and admire the engineering that keeps it standing.