Top 5 Housing Foundation Types & Their Pros and Cons

By: ROS Team

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House foundations are the most important part of the construction process. However, conversations about foundations are few and far between. Every structure has a foundation on which the whole building stands. A strong foundation means structural durability and helps ensure the building will survive natural disasters.

It’s important to choose an appropriate foundation type to ensure your house is stable and level. In this article, we will discuss some of the most common and useful types of foundations for homes, along with their pros and cons.

Housing Foundation Types

1. Concrete Slab On Grade Foundation
2. Crawl Space Foundation
3. Daylight Basements
4. Stone Foundations
5. Pier Foundation

#1. Concrete Slab-On Grade Foundation

Also known as floating slab foundation, concrete slab-on-grade foundation is a building foundation type in which the building structure rests on a slab of concrete or any other structure made with a mold. This type of foundation is suitable for warmer climates where ground freezing and thawing aren’t an issue.

Concrete Slab On Grade Foundation
Image Source: Pixabay.com

Pros

  • Floating slab foundation is the most commonly used building foundation type for tract housing because it is inexpensive and easy to install.
  • Since there is no gap between the ground and the bottom of slabs in the concrete slab-on-grade foundation, it is less vulnerable to pests and termites.

Cons

  • Utility pipes are covered in the concrete slab, and if there are any plumbing or drainage issues, the slab would have to be cut into pieces before it could be repaired.
  • Slabs in the foundation mean you won’t be able to have a basement for extra storage or living space.
  • A tiny crack in the slab can damage the whole foundation. And repairing a slab crack is not a cheap fix.

 

#2. Crawl Space Foundation

Another common building foundation type is crawl space foundation, which is built on small foundation walls. It is named so because the space at the base of the structure is accessible only by crawling. The space below the building with a crawl space foundation isn’t liveable; however, the space can be used to store lawn or other equipment.

Crawl Space Foundation
Image Source: Researchgate.net

Pros

  • A crawl space foundation works in several conditions and climates. For example, in areas prone to earthquakes, this foundation type keeps the house upright.  Moreover, in warmer conditions, crawl space foundations offer good ventilation space.
  • This type of foundation is ideal if you are building a house on an uneven lot because it creates a level platform for the house to sit on.
  • Given the space created underneath the home (usually around 18 inches), plumbing pipes and electrical wiring can channel through the crawl space. The space can also be used to store other small items.
  • In flood events, crawl space foundations help keep houses above rising water.

Cons

  • In winter, the air space under the house can make the living space chilly. This means you’ll likely pay more to heat your home during the winter months.
  • The crawl space, if not used properly, could invite pests and termites.
  • The crawl space under the home can trap moisture. If the space remains damp for extended periods of time, it could cause significant damage to structural integrity of the house.

 

#3. Daylight Basements

Daylight basements are a variation of full basement foundations. These types of basements are partially below the ground as opposed to being entirely underground. In addition, daylight basements have one or more windows that allow natural light to come in.

Properties built on a slope usually use daylight basements. These basements are also useful for those who want a separate entrance to their house or want to rent out a portion of it.

Daylight Basements
Image Source: Amazonaws.com

Pros

  • Sloped building lots are less costly compared to flat lots.
  • Daylight basements offer more living space and are a great option if you want to rent out your basement.
  • Daylight basements have extra space, which allows you to store more full-size items.
  • A daylight basement will allow more natural light to come in through full-sized windows, making your basement space seem more inviting.

Cons

  • If you don’t have a properly sloped lot, you will end up paying contractors more money upfront.
  • Moisture and mold are common problems in full and daylight basements.

 

#4. Stone Foundations

Stone foundations aren’t as common as they used to be; they are usually found in older buildings. A mixture of stone and cement serves as the base of a stone foundation. Chipping and cracking are the main reasons why modern builders have stayed away from stone foundations.

Stone Foundations
Image Source: Squarespace-cdn.com

Pros

  • Buildings with stone foundations are strong and provide more resistance to fierce weather conditions such as hurricanes and tornadoes.
  • Buildings developed with stone foundations have a longer lifespan.
  • There is no chance of pests and molds in these buildings as the stoned basement doesn’t rot.

Cons

  • Stone foundations require heavy materials like stones and bricks; therefore, this foundation type requires more transportation costs.
  • The margin of error is pretty narrow in this foundation type. A small error in the foundation could spark a crack and require an immediate fix to prevent further damage.
  • You can’t build stoned buildings during the rainy season as moisture will cause the mortar to lose its shape.

 

#5. Pier Foundation

Pier foundations are foundation structures in which the entire building stands on a series of pillars or piles. These pillars are planted deep in the soil and bear the weight of the building. Pier foundations are a popular option in coastal areas where rising tides are a problem.

Pier Foundation
Image Source: Pinterest.com

Pros

  • Since the building is a few inches above the ground, pier foundations help save the building from floods and high tides.
  • Repair costs for a pier foundation are much lower compared to slab foundation since it is pretty easy to isolate the damaged portion of the foundation.
  • Although it’s not a usual occurrence, pier foundations make it easier to move your house compared to other foundation types.

Cons

  • Large spaces are an invitation to pests and animals. And there is plenty of space in pier foundations.
  • The space under the house is prone to trapped moisture.
  • In winter, colder air – especially in coastal regions – can gather in the space under the house, making the living spaces above it much colder.  This will result in higher heating expenses.

Final Thoughts

While there are many other types of foundations for homes, the above-mentioned foundation types are the most common. Now that you have read about the commonly utilized building foundations, you can use what you know to choose the foundation most suitable for your house depending on your location.