Home Foundations: Different Types and Materials

A home's foundation can affect its overall maintenance and functionality. If you're a home buyer, you need to understand the differences between each type.

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Home Foundations: Different Types and Materials

Posted by Gary Ashton on Monday, September 23rd, 2019 at 10:09am.

Foundation Information for Home Buyers and Buyers of New ConstructionA home's foundation can have a big influence on the way it's maintained. Some foundations are more functional than others. If you're buying a home, you may encounter properties with different types of foundations.

Understanding the different kinds and how they're maintained can help you evaluate homes as you look at them. If you're thinking about building a home, this information will be critical as you work with architects and engineers to design your new house.

Slab Foundation

Slab foundations are very common because they're relatively inexpensive to install and take less prep work than other types of foundations. Slab foundations consist of concrete footers, concrete blocks, and concrete poured on top. Homeowners like the low price tag of slab foundations, but there are some downsides.

Slab foundations might cost less than other types of foundations, but they're more expensive to maintain. Since the home's main line and other pipes are buried in the foundation, the floor of the home must be opened up to make repairs. Finding a slab leak can be a very costly and time-consuming process, and when it's done, the floors must be fully repaired before things can go back to normal.

Slab foundations also make for cold floors, which can be uncomfortable, especially in the winter. In some parts of the country, slab foundations are more common than others. In areas where the ground is at or below sea-level, slab foundations can protect the home from moisture problems.

Crawl Space Foundation

Crawl space foundations are different than slabs. They are built on concrete footers and blocks. Once this base is in place, the home is built up off the ground, leaving a space underneath the house for utility access. Maintaining plumbing and other utilities is easier with crawl space foundations, and the floors tend to be warmer than slab foundations.

Proper vapor barriers must be installed to prevent mold from growing underneath the house, especially in wet climates. Moisture that is trapped beneath the house can cause the sub-floor and other parts of the home to rot. Crawl spaces are generally preferred to slab foundations, but they must be properly installed in order to be functional.

In addition, crawl spaces can become home to animals and pests. Access points to the crawl space must be blocked by wire to ensure that rodents and other larger mammals do not get in.

Basement Foundation

Basement foundations are made from concrete and cinder blocks. In many parts of the country, these foundations can provide the most value to the home, if they're properly waterproofed. Finished basements add square footage, which makes them attractive to home buyers. Unfinished basements, though they don't add square footage to the home, are still good for storage. In parts of the country where tornadoes are common, basements are almost an essential safety feature.

Basements can be very problematic if they become leaky. Cracks in the foundation can lead to water intrusion, and the clean-up process after a big storm or snow melt can be very expensive. Freeze/thaw cycles can widen cracks in the basement walls, which can also be very expensive to repair.

In some parts of the country, where the soil is very sandy or the ground is very wet, basements are not very common. Home buyers who want to purchase a home with a basement should take care to have the basement inspected for signs of possible leakage. A water management or water drainage system may need to be installed if the basement shows evidence of previous leaks.

Get Help From Professionals

If you're a Franklin TN home buyer or if you're thinking about building a new construction home, work with a professional contractor or real estate agent, as the case may be. Working with the professionals can help ensure that your home's foundation will be structurally sound, and will add value to your property.


Gary Ashton

The Ashton Real Estate Group of RE/MAX Advantage

The #1 RE/MAX team in the World!

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