Building a Home? Consider the Foundations

Many homeowners make serious mistakes by not choosing the right foundation. Beneath the buried features lies perhaps the most crucial part of your home. The foundation carries the entire weight of your building, and different types exist for you to consider. Whether you are planning to build a new property or renovate your home, understanding this crucial aspect can help improve maintenance and address issues promptly. Here are the most common home foundation types you should know.

Wood foundation
Many people think about concrete when talking about foundations. However, wood foundations also exist, which are made with materials such as cedar, redwood, and cypress. Builders use pressure-treated lumber for foundations today because of cost and availability. Creating wood foundations is easy as they require simple construction methods and tools. Small buildings and sheds are examples of a few structures that commonly use this foundation. However, it is less strong compared to concrete alternatives. The former requires a rot-resistant barrier between the foundation and the ground. This is necessary as pressure-treated lumber may degrade and attract pests with time.

Poured concrete slab
A poured concrete slab is a thick, flat section of concrete that is usually created using wood forms that hold the concrete in place until it dries. Slabs mostly contain metal rods connected to increase strength, but they may lack footings (thick sections of concrete under load-bearing walls). One advantage of poured concrete slabs is they are cost-effective and simple to install. This foundation type can support a lot of weight, yet it requires less excavation. However, you may have to break up the slab or excavate underneath if there is a need for repairs. It's worth noting that deck blocks are a simplified version of precast foundations. Preformed deck foundation blocks or deck pier blocks are normally made of concrete or plastic, and they are subject to building code requirements.

Full basement
Full basement foundations can double a home’s square footage. They are among the deepest types of foundations with concrete walls that complement all of the floor space above. A major disadvantage of full basement foundations is they can be highly expensive, costing nearly four times more than the average price of concrete slab foundations. The typical height of a full basement foundation is at least seven feet. Newly constructed homes may have taller basements to allow for future conversions. Regions that are prone to severe weather like hurricanes and tornadoes often use full basements to double as safe rooms or shelters. 

Slab-on-grade foundations rest at ground level – they are practical for climates that rarely experience freeze and thaw cycles. The construction process involves pouring concrete over a prepared level area and reinforcing it with a metal rebar grid. Although a slab-on-grade foundation is cost-effective, repairs can be challenging when the need arises. Additionally, there is the risk of cracking from settling or the ground freezing. 

The kind of foundation you choose for your home determines the costs, longevity, and maintenance requirements. Considering factors like climate, budget, and other characteristics can help you set up the right foundation to complement your lifestyle, home design, and local area.