Types of Foundations You Need To Know About

Types of Foundations You Need To Know About

Your house is only as strong as the foundation it sits on. It’s crucial to choose the right one to build your home on; otherwise, all that hard work might be for nothing. You might also be here because of your home’s construction, and you’re curious about what your house is sitting on.

Here we’ll discuss various types of foundation, what situations they’re best for, whether to avoid them and if they’re cost-effective.

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Crawl space Foundation

With crawl space foundations, there are a couple of options: A pier-and-beam or stem wall. Pier-and-beam foundations utilize concrete footings burrowed within the ground to support a collection of wooden piers. This option also uses concrete beams distributed between the piers for optimal support.

A stem wall serves as a continual masonry wall distributed over a massive area beneath the house. While this not only lifts the structure, the durable materials forming these walls also protect your crawl space from disasters such as flooding.

Why Crawl Space Foundations Are Great

As mentioned, crawl spaces prevent flooding since their walls are raised and thick. Furthermore, you could use the additional storage below your home to store items 18-inches and under in height. Make sure to keep it dehumidified to prevent molding. Crawl spaces also offer a lot of flexibility and accessibility, which allows you to easily manage your electrical and plumbing.

Understand your property’s dimension before you dig with My Site Plan’s Basic Site Plan. Our plans include lot lines, sizes and can help fix encroachment issues. If you’re not completely satisfied, we offer free adjustments.

Reasons Not To Go With Crawl Space Foundations

While the walls supporting your house are useful for preventing floods, they’re not the best at energy efficiency. Since these areas are prone to moisture, you need to deal with said moisture. Otherwise, it could lead to mold that can leak through your flooring. You also need to keep this area heated to prevent cold air from seeping through your floor during the winter, as that can attract pests.

Basement Foundation

Basement foundation.


Basement foundations come in two different forms: daylight and full.

The first option doesn’t entirely extend underground and can serve as a cool area with excellent airflow on a hot day. Since daylight, or walkout, basements are built on slopes, some of the walls are below-ground while others are above. These types of basements can serve as a beautiful addition to your home if you want to rent it out later on. Since you’re building on a slope, there are additional complexities involved, which calls for more spending.

There are usually no windows with a full basement, unless you opt for installing small ones above-ground. The structure extends underground and can go with a finished or unfinished basement, depending on its intended purpose. Full basements are a better option if you want additional rooms or storage without the added costs.

Advantages Of This Foundation

Basements don’t only increase the value of your house, but they also offer other pros:

  • Basement foundations provide a stable shelter during severe disasters such as tornadoes.
  • Flooring options give a lot more flexibility than concrete slab foundations.
  • You can use basements as an energy-efficient room to relax in during the summer to dodge the heat.
  • It’s a lot easier to deal with repairs as opposed to slab and crawl space foundations.
  • You can expand your living space and create the potential for a money-making space.

Basement Foundation’s Disadvantages

If you are looking to save on costs, building a basement isn’t the way to go. Furthermore, you’re more likely to face radon-related issues if you don’t install a radon mitigation system when planning your home’s construction.

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Slab Foundation

Concrete slab foundation


There are three ways to go about creating concrete slab foundations. One, slab-on-grade, is a thick slab of concrete usually between six to eight inches thick. With this method, you pour concrete into prepared soil mixed with gravel. Afterward, rebar reinforces the home’s frame and footing while you add mesh to reduce the chances of cracking.

You could opt for building a T-shaped foundation instead, which uses concrete footings that run above the frost line and reach the prepped soil’s surface. The slabs are then poured on top of the tees.

Finally, you could opt for frost-protected (FPSF) slabs containing foam insulation to prevent the foundation from freezing. With freezing comes an increased chance of cracking. Only use FPSF for heated buildings.

Before choosing your foundation, learn more about the site plans My Site Plan offers. That way, you make the best and most cost-effective decision.

Concrete Slab Foundations Pros

This foundation isn’t only affordable, but it will save you money in the long-run due to its lack of required maintenance. Furthermore, slabs don’t require specific soil conditions for construction and are more durable than other foundations.

Various advantages of concrete slab foundations include:

  • Slabs protect from pests and moisture due to the lack of open space beneath the house.
  • They’re easy to build and don’t take a lot of time to create.
  • Concrete slabs give more options for flooring than other foundations.
  • These slabs are cheaper than other foundations.
  • Concrete slabs provide a tremendous thermal mass to control your home’s temperature throughout the year.

Concrete Slab Foundations Cons

The same benefits for slab foundations are also detrimental and can cause a lot of headaches. For example, plumbing is below the slabs, which means if you need any work done, you have to shatter the concrete to get to the pipes. It’s also a lot harder to detect leaks in the first place.

Concrete is subject to cracking if certain moisture and weather conditions are right. Furthermore, if you’re in an earthquake-prone area, this foundation isn’t right for you. If you’re considering concrete slab foundations as an option, be sure to look into what causes cracking and how to prevent it.

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FAQ Answer
What are the primary factors to consider when choosing a foundation type for a new home? Key factors include soil type, climate, budget, and the intended use of the basement or crawl space. Soil stability and moisture levels can dictate the best foundation type, while climate considerations such as freeze-thaw cycles and flood risk are crucial.
How long does it typically take to construct a crawl space foundation compared to a slab or basement foundation? Construction time can vary based on foundation type. A crawl space foundation might take less time than a basement due to less excavation but more than a slab foundation because it involves more complex construction with piers or stem walls.
Can daylight basements be converted into separate rental units, and what are the zoning considerations? Daylight basements can often be converted into rental units if local zoning laws permit. Homeowners should check with local planning agencies to ensure compliance with building codes and regulations regarding egress, ceiling height, and separate utilities.
What are some specific steps homeowners can take to improve the energy efficiency of crawl space foundations? Homeowners can improve energy efficiency by insulating the crawl space walls, installing vapor barriers to manage moisture, and ensuring proper ventilation to prevent mold and reduce heating needs.
How does the cost-effectiveness of pier-and-beam foundations compare to other types of crawl space foundations? Pier-and-beam foundations can be more cost-effective in areas with unstable soil as they require less extensive excavation and material than full stem wall foundations. However, they may require more maintenance over time due to potential issues with wood degradation.
What additional complexities are involved in building on a slope for daylight basements? Building on a slope requires careful design to manage water drainage and structural stability. Additional engineering may be needed to ensure the foundation is secure and that the home is safe from sliding or erosion.

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  • Ryan Crownholm