When you’re building a new home, choosing the right type of home foundation is one of the most important decisions. Apart from supporting the structure above it, foundations have important functions that help keep homes safe and comfortable to live in. They are responsible for keeping moisture outside and protecting your home against the cold.
There are several types of home foundations, with each having its own advantages and disadvantages. Here are three of the most common type of home foundations and tips for taking care of them.
Basement foundations are carved 8 feet into the ground and surrounded by concrete pillars that hold up the structure above.
The biggest advantage of basement foundations is that they add more square footage to a home than any other foundation type. Basement foundations have also shown themselves to be durable, which is why homes with basement foundations command a higher resale value.
There are also some disadvantages to basement foundations. Basements tend to be humid and easily accumulate moisture. Unfortunately, this tends to create a situation where mold and mildew grow if basements aren’t taken care of properly. Apart from that, they are also the most expensive type of foundation. They take longer to build and use more material than other types of foundations, which is why they’re the most expensive.
Concrete Slab Foundations
Concrete slab foundations are the most popular option for homes in warm climates. Concrete slabs tend to be around 5 to 6 inches thick in the center and are essentially poured into the ground all at once. Unlike basement foundations, concrete slab foundations don’t have any crawlspace.
The advantages of concrete slab foundations are that the installation process is easy and fast. Due to this, concrete slab foundations are less expensive than other foundations like basement or crawlspace foundations. Also, unlike the other two foundations, concrete slab foundations aren’t vulnerable to mold growth.
The disadvantages of concrete slabs are that they are vulnerable to cracking in cold weather. The moisture level also needs to be properly maintained, so it doesn’t cause any cracks. Perhaps the biggest disadvantage to concrete slabs is that its plumbing system is located underneath the slab, making fixing any plumbing system issues a potentially expensive job.
Crawlspace foundations raise the home 2 to 3 feet high off the ground supported by columns of blocks. These foundations tend to be popular in places where the soil is difficult to dig through. It isn’t the most expensive type of foundation, but it’s also not the cheapest.
One of the most significant advantages of crawlspace foundations is that they’re an excellent choice in areas where flooding is common. Unlike other foundations that might make plumbing or electrical systems difficult to repair, crawlspace foundations make these systems more accessible. As an added benefit, if you take good care of your crawlspace you can get some extra storage space for items.
One of the disadvantages of crawlspace foundations is that hot and cold air can easily escape through the floor, requiring more home energy usage. Since crawlspaces can get very humid, excessive moisture might lead to mold growth if not properly taken care of. You can help prevent some of these issues by sealing and insulating the walls and using a dehumidifier.
Taking Good Care Of Home Foundations
Once the structure has been built, there are several steps to keep the foundation in good condition and prevent any expensive repairs. There are also things you should be on the lookout for that can potentially cause damage to your home foundation.
One of the easiest ways to prevent any cracks in the foundation is by keeping the soil moist. When it’s dry outside, you want to water the soil consistently to prevent it from drying out, which can have further negative effects and eventually lead to cracks in the foundation.
Another thing you should be consistently doing is performing routine plumbing maintenance checks. The vast majority of plumbing issues often lead to excessive moisture which can not only cause water damage to your home but also leak moisture into the ground causing further issues in the foundation.
Make sure that your landscape grade is leveled correctly — meaning your home is sloped above your yard so that any rainwater will flow away from your home foundation instead of flowing into it. To avoid these issues as much as possible, you should consider installing a french drain as well.
Be on the lookout for tree roots that go deep into the ground near the foundation and avoid planting anything too close to it.
While choosing a foundation type is not as fun as other design decisions you’ll make when building a home, it’s by far one of the most crucial ones. No matter which foundation you decide to go with, knowing what the advantages and disadvantages of it are key to making sure your home stays safe and avoid costly repairs in the future.