The foundation of your home is the first piece of your home that is constructed, and is used as a base for the rest of the house. There are three main types of foundations that are most commonly used:
- Slab Foundation – contains structural slabs, which are poured directly on. There is no accessible space in slab construction, and slab foundations are more preferred in areas with high water table. A water table refers to how deep in the soil will you find water.
- Crawlspace Foundation – an accessible space, but with limited headroom, which is typically between the bottom of the first floor of the home, and the soil. Crawlspace foundations are preferred in areas where there is heavy clay content found in the soil.
- Basement Foundation – spaces between the bottom of the first floor of your house and the soil. A basement can be 8 to 9 feet deep, and is an easily accessible space. A basement foundation is constructed in cold climates, where you need a 8 to 9 feet low foundation; so it is below the frost level.
All foundations are made using concrete usually, but they can also be constructed using insulated concrete forms or concrete masonry units.
A concrete, Masonry Unit, are concrete blocks that are hollow. They are used to create the foundation wall, and we use mortar between blocks to hold them in place together, so the wall can be formed.
Insulated Concrete Forms, are made using rigid foam insulation forms into which concrete is poured. It is basically a system of support assemblies, that include hardware, mold, and other necessary bracings used to hold concrete. Once the concrete has dried, both the outside and inside forms are left in place to insulate your walls. There are many cities where the local building code requires for homeowners to ensure that the foundation is insulated. An added benefit is, that you will be able to finish your basement without adding studs.
How to choose the Type of Foundation?
Choosing which type of foundation is not an easy decision as you must keep in mind various factors. For instance, in areas with high water table it will not be possible to have a basement foundation. As your land will have a shallow bedrock, and it will be more costly to dig it all up.
Slab foundations are hard to maintain on sloping lots. And in areas where the climate is cold, we will be required to dig 4 to 5 feet below the footing, to ensure that the footing is below the frost level. If you are already spending money to dig 4 to 5 feet down, it will be better if you pay a little more and get a basement foundation.
The choice of foundation is affected by cost, and personal preferences. The difference between a crawlspace and a basement is thousand of dollars. However, a basement will create an extra living space, which is a compromise when considering the living cost.
Changing the Foundation type of your home
When looking for a foundational change, there are a few key elements that you should keep in mind. Almost, all houses can have their foundation changed, and get a foundation that is more specific to your needs. Keep in mind the local soil conditions, water table conditions, and slope of your lot.
The three main elements that you need to consider are where you will put your water heater, furnace, and stairs. If you are adding a basement you will be required to plan where the stair goes. As a homeowner, it is your responsibility to ensure that all local building codes and requirements are fulfilled.