Having a strong foundation is absolutely essential in the construction of a home. Your foundation is going to keep your home strong and sturdy by providing it with a base to sit upon, and a foundation can also play a vital role in protection against weather and climate issues such as snow or excessive rain. As a result of these considerations, you should be prepared to put some time and effort into selecting the right type of foundation when you are building your home. Not only are you going to want to consider the size, shape and style of the foundation, but the materials from which you craft it as well.
Types of Home Foundations
In modern day home construction there are essentially three different foundation styles that you are going to want to select from. Each of these foundation styles is quite different from the previous, however, which is why making the right choice is so important. Each foundation style suits different conditions, offers a different level of customization or scalability and comes with different costs. These are:
There are different reasons for which you might choose one foundation over the other. Choosing the right foundation is definitely an important consideration, and the wrong foundation choice can have a negative impact on the structural integrity of your home. If you are building or designing your own home, make sure that you take the time to choose an appropriate foundation style early on in the process.
- Basement Foundations: Most homes located in the northern United States have a basement foundation. Basements are essentially extruded crawl spaces and they are generally quite popular in the eastern portion of the United States as well as in older neighborhoods. This is largely because they provide a lot of additional space for large families. There is a lot that you can do with a basement foundation depending on how large you make the home. Many people with basement foundations convert the basement space into additional living space, which is a cost-effective way to expand the amount of living space in the home. Basements make great dens, living areas, bedrooms, gyms and can serve a variety of other purposes, and all it takes is finishing them to convert the space into something useful.
- Crawl Space Foundations: Homes located in the middle part of the United States are most likely to have this type of foundation, largely because the frost lines are somewhat deep but not quite as deep as in the northern portion of the country. Crawl space foundations are essentially raised foundations and they are quite common when it comes to home construction. The foundation is built above the ground, and what this means is that there is enough space between the ground and the foundation of the home that someone could crawl underneath. This type of foundation involves stem walls along the perimeter, pierced in between and a girder system followed by floor joists placed on top. This foundation is typically built so that there are at least two feet between the foundation and the ground. This makes it possible for someone to get underneath in order to work on the home’s mechanic systems and other maintenance needs as they arise.
- Slab Foundations: This is another popular type of foundation, though it is especially common down in the south where weather concerns are not as important. Slab foundations, in most cases, are concrete that is poured directly down onto the ground. Generally with this type of foundation what you do is to dig perimeter footings, then remove enough grade and soil that you are pouring the footings and the slab at exactly the same time. This type of foundation style is especially common in tract-home environments, which are situations where many homes are being built in the same style in the same place, so a similar situation is being created each time for each home. This is a very efficient foundation style and so it saves money to build the home foundations in this manner. Another instance where this foundation style may be desirable is when the conditions of the soil are not ideal for crawl space or basement foundations. Another consideration is that only concrete is used for this type of foundation rather than wood in the support of the home.
Exceptions to the Rules
There are always going to be exceptions to these rules. There are no real hard and fast rules when it comes to choosing a foundation style for a home, and for this reason it is important to weigh the different options and determine which is best going to address the needs f the home, the home owner and the region or climate. There are definitely situations where the foundation style that you choose is a less important decision to make, but this is not always the case. The first thing that you are going to want to consider is whether or not the foundation style truly matters in your unique situation.
Typically you are going to consider the following things when you are choosing the foundation type for your home:
- Local conditions: What types of climate or weather are expected in the region where you are building? Do you need a foundation that can stand up against snow, the frost line, a lot of rain or heavy winds? These are all considerations that you are going to need to make. Paying attention to the home styles around you will definitely give you some insight into the types of conditions that the homes face. If all of the homes in your neighborhood have basement foundations or crawl-space foundations, then it would be wise for you to consider why and make your decision accordingly.
- Local building traditions: What types of foundations are used in your immediate area? If every home in the vicinity of your building site uses a basement foundation, then you may want to follow suit. In most neighborhoods, the homes are designed to follow the same basic building traditions so that there is some cohesiveness in the design of the neighborhood. Make sure that you put some consideration into the local building traditions in your area so that you can ensure that your home fits in with the other homes in the area.
- Costs: Because land can be cheaper in the west, for example, you will find a lot of slab foundation styles where people bought large plots of land intending to build large family homes. When you are trying to build a large or expansive home, a slab foundation is definitely going to be the most cost effective option available to you. Cost is definitely going to be an important consideration when choosing a foundation, especially when you consider the size of the home that you are building.
Choosing the right foundation style should be fairly intuitive based on this information. It does not have to be a difficult decision to make, but what you do need to realize is that once your foundation is built, changing the style of foundation is going to be time consuming and expensive. There are only three basic foundation styles for you to choose from, and they have pretty clear cut differences. This is why making the right decision the first time is so important. Do not be afraid to consult specialists when choosing your foundation so that you can make the right decision right away.