Foundations 101

Whether you’re looking to buy a luxury home or planning to build your dream house from the ground up, it’s important to understand the foundational aspect of home building—the foundation itself. Here are the different types of foundations you can expect to find, to help you decide which is right for you:

 

  1. Basement

Basement foundations, an extremely popular option in the United States, are built using a concrete set of pillars that hold up the building’s structure. Basements have the advantage of adding extra square footage either for living in or renting out, and also offer the best ventilation and protection from the elements. Sounds great, right? Be careful—spending too much time underground can be dangerous. Radon exposure is the second leading cause of lung cancer after smoking, so every homeowner with a basement should install a radon mitigation plan.

 

  1. Concrete Slab

Building type of foundation is as simple as its name— the slabs, which can range in thickness from four to eight inches, are reinforced with steel rods and drainage pipes. While cheap and quick to build, homes built on concrete slab foundations oftentimes lack ventilation and are more likely to be damaged from flooding.

 

  1. Crawlspace

A crawlspace foundation can be thought of as a midpoint between a concrete slab and basement foundation. The space itself is typically about four feet high, and the structure above is reinforced by concrete pillars. Crawlspaces are ideal for homes in areas prone to natural disasters like earthquakes (since shifting ground can quickly destroy a concrete foundation) and floods (because the space offers better protection against water and loose soil while providing better airflow).

 

  1. Pier

A pier foundation is made from circular wood posts set into the ground to support the home’s structure. While very expensive to construct, this type of foundation has the benefit of sturdiness and longevity.

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