8 Types of Home Foundation Systems

Any given home needs a solid foundation.

Every building, let alone a house, needs to be built on a foundation.

The concept of a house’s foundation appears very simple. On the surface, it’s nothing more than something that a house gets built on.

But there is a lot more to it than that, and if you learn about the details of what a house’s foundation is made of, you’ll be able to detect what goes into an effective foundation for a house.

Every other part of a home can be imperfect, but the foundation of your home is one thing that needs to be perfect An imperfect home foundation can lead to a lot of different problems with your home. If your foundation is not perfect, certain parts of it can fall apart and become inhabitable. As simple as they may appear and as simple as their role is, home foundations are all different in their own ways. No one home foundation is the same, and it is important to know what types of home foundations exist and what each one offers. Knowing about the various kinds of home foundation will allow you to choose the best one for your home.

If you are not aware of these kinds of home foundation and select one that is the most popular or the one that is claimed to be the most effective, you might encounter problems down the road.

This is a risk that you do not want to take, and it is why you need to not only know about the types of home foundation but what a compromised home foundation looks like.

What exactly does foundation do for a house?

The foundation of a house serve a few different functions. The first thing it does is literally prevent the house from sinking. This, of course, is the most obvious option, and many foolishly believe that this is the only real function of a house’s foundation.

This is not true, and there are a few more purposes that a house’s foundation has other than making sure the house does not sink.

Keeping moisture out of a house is one of these.

Have you ever been inside of a house or building and it felt “stuffy?” That’s probably because there was excess moisture inside of the house, which are the effects of a foundation that is not perfect or optimal. Although heating insulate against cold weather in its own right, a perfect foundation will also insulate against cold.

If you have ever been inside a building or house that feels cold no matter how hot your heaters are, this is again probably because of a foundation that is less than perfect. Even though you might not believe it, the ground underneath a house will move. No, it does not move that much, but it does move.

And yes, a foundation will resist this kind of movement. If you have come across a building or house where the bottom of it does not look perfectly balanced, this means that there might be issues with the foundation.

Something else that the foundation of a house will do is separate wood-based materials from coming in contact with the ground. Very bad things happen if wood based materials come in contact with the ground. When this happens, the wood materials are subject to rot and this can result in termite infestations. As you can see, the foundation of a house is designed for a lot more than just preventing a house from sinking.

Now you need to understand what the foundation of a house is made of and how these parts accomplish the above .

The most common types of home foundation

One thing that you should know before exploring the various types of home foundation is that they all have one purpose: Provide a stable ground for your home.

Another thing you need to know is that not all home foundations are created equal. Different types of foundation are suitable for different sizes of homes, weather patterns, and different kinds of soil.

As complicated as these issues may appear, the process of choosing or replacing your home’s foundation will be more simple than you think, especially when you know about the intimate details of each of the following common types of foundation.

1. Permanent wood foundation

Some of the oldest homes in history have been built on this foundation, and it is still perhaps the most common. In a permanent wood foundation, basements are framed with pressure treated wood and sits on a floor made of poured concrete. Because this kind of foundation utilizes a basement, it will not be suitable for any home that is built on soil that settles rapidly. Do not forget that concrete is heavy, and if the soil is light, a home built on permanent wood foundation will literally sink.

Permanent wood foundation may also not be able to withstand very high winds, either, since pressure treated wood is not the most stable thing in the world.

However, permanent wood foundation lives up to its name: It is as close to permanent as it can get without actually being permanent. If your home is in a place that does not encounter extreme weather and has tough soil that doesn’t settle constantly, you can “set and forget” permanent wood foundation.

2. Basement foundation

Similar to permanent wood foundation, basement foundation utilizes a basement. A basement foundation is a hollow sub-grade structure which is governed by functional requirements more than any other consideration.

Basement foundations are all about cinder and concrete. Homes that are built on it use either cinder blocks or cast-in-place concrete walls.

This means two things: First, they are suspect to moisture and water damage. While it appears that cinder and concrete can absorb moisture well because of their material, this is not perfectly true. It is just as difficult for cinder and concrete to absorb moisture as wood.

Second, it is prone to water damage. If you have decided to use basement foundation to build a home, you need to waterproof the foundation as much as you can. Do not forget how heavy cinder and concrete are. Because basement foundations are primarily built using these two materials, the soil it is built on needs to be very strong.

However, you will not need to worry about any wind related weather conditions when using basement foundation. It is one of the sturdiest home foundations in existence.

3. Footing and stem wall construction

This is probably the most common type of modern home foundation, and a lot of homes within the last 50 or years have been built on this foundation. That is because footing and stem walls do not utilize a basement and they allow for a lot more options than foundation that is built from a basement. Take crawl space, for example. In the last two kinds of home foundation, the basement is the crawl space because they both utilize basements in their construction.. With footing and stem wall construction, you can not only design a basement if you want, but you can also create a crawl space.

While footing and stem wall remains the industry standard for home foundation, they take a lot of time, money, and materials to be built. The footing requires digging and the stem walls need to be properly measured.

Doing this requires a lot more materials than the aforementioned types of home foundation, but the benefits are vast.

The only thing you might need to be concerned with in footing and stem wall construction is frost line areas, since frost line areas do affect how this type of foundation can be built.

4. Raised perimeter

When concrete is poured to make a foundation, the concrete either forms a flat slab, the perimeter is raised, or a combination of the two is accomplished.

A raised perimeter contains concrete walls along with concrete footing that are supported by steel reinforcing bars.

Raised floors and slabs often follow this kind of foundation because it is easy to utilize the steel bars. All you need to do to make sure that the foundation remains for decades is to put in these steel bars inside the concrete footing.

5. Pier and footing foundation

Before it was discovered that placing steel bars inside of concrete blocks that have not formed yet makes the concrete blocks much stronger when holding up buildings, pier and footing foundation was used.

In this kind of foundation, a small “pier” like contraption rests on concrete footing. This allowed the footing to be connected very easily, but this kind of foundation has been phased out, since other foundation methods have much greater integrity.

6. Concrete block

Constructing a foundation is also possible by setting up concrete blocks and using those as a foundation, with the same blocks being used as wall foundation.

You will see concrete block foundations used in smaller houses, as it is much more simple to put it together than concrete pour, which not only takes a lot longer but also costs more money.

These are just the most common types of house foundations. There exist others, and although they are not as common, they also maintain the structural integrity of a house just as effectively.

7. Slab on grade with a turned-down edge

One of the simplest, cheapest, and fastest ways to build foundation for a home is to use slab on grade.

There are only two things a slab on grade foundation uses: a monolithic concrete pour and post tension cables. This allows for a quick and cheap way to build foundation for a home. However, many conditions need to be met for achieving this kind of foundation.

First, the area must have next to zero frost line.

Why is this?

Remember that concrete does not absorb moisture as well as conceived. And what produces more moisture than something that is frozen in place?

Because this particular type of home foundation is comprised almost completely of concrete, it will crack instantly if there is even the smallest hint of frost in the soil.

Also, wind levels need to be very low.

This is because slab on grade foundations use post tension cables. Wind can affect cables like this, and if the gusts get too strong, this kind of foundation will be affected – greatly. Despite all this, slab on grade foundations have their place. They are optimal for areas with low wind gusts and next to no frost line.

8. Drilled shaft concrete piers and grade beams

This is the home foundation of choice when it comes to commercial and industrial projects that comprise a very large area that contain plans that involve a lot of buildings. Concrete piers and grade beams are built on and around high plasticity soil to provide a foundation. This makes creating the foundation very simple.

However, the soil needs to be perfect for this to happen, and in most cases, you will need to hire structural engineers to design and analyze the soil.

Residential projects can also take advantage of this type of foundation system if they are large enough. Because these foundation systems require structural engineering, concrete piers and grade beams hold up really well. Most of them can withstand any kind of soil formation and weather. However, a foundation such as this is only possible for a group of buildings and not just one.

What happens when a home foundation is not perfect?

An improper foundation in your home can obviously lead to a lot of problems, but it can be tricky to know what an improper home foundation looks like or what can cause the foundation of a home to be damaged. One of the reasons why you need to know about the different types of home foundations is because if you know about them, you’ll be able to prevent most foundation problems that you may encounter in your home.

There are two things that can damage a home’s foundation. The first of these is are from natural occurrences. Weather events such as excess rain or drought and geological processes such as soil’s natural tendency to settle can cause your foundation to be damaged. Although these occurrences are natural, different home foundation types can defend against rain, drought, or soil that may be settling too fast. This is yet another reason why it is very useful to know about the various types of home foundations. There are also a lot of signs of foundation problems that you can detect as well. If you notice these signs, it may be time to repair your home’s foundation.

If you see cracks in the interior walls, unusually large separations between the blocks in a concrete block foundation, cracks along a concrete foundation, bulging floors, or doors that struggle to open or close, you might be dealing with a problematic home foundation.

Your home’s foundation can also be compromised if there has been flooding or high winds around your home. This is especially true if your home’s foundation is not set up to prepare for these kinds of events properly.

Yes, there exist types of home foundations that are designed to withstand floods and high winds. They are worth knowing about.

The same is true if you live in a place that encounters earthquakes. There exist home foundations that can withstand earthquakes, and you will learn about these as well.

Now that you know the dangers of having a suboptimal type of home foundation placed and know about what problems home foundations can encounter, it is now time to explore and analyze the most common types of home foundation.

What exactly comprises the foundation of a house?

There are a lot of things that the foundation of a house is made of and each of these things accomplish different functions. Footings are the very first thing that comprise the foundation of a house. Probably the most important part of any given foundation, footings will allow the building and house to resist the movement of the ground underneath the building or house.

Concrete, stone, or brick formations are what make up footings. The best footings are the ones what master these formations. This means that they take into account soil conditions, water tables, and the quality of its backfill. As simple as it appears, a great attention to detail is necessary for foundation footings to be optimized. Everything from the base to the formwork needs to be analyzed perfectly. Walls are also part of a foundation. Walls will allow the building or house to keep moisture out of the house as well as either keep it insulated or allow cool air to circulate a little more than usual.

All of this depends on the material that said walls were made of. Walls that are made of brick will tend to absorb heat a little less than concrete. This is because brick walls do not absorb too much air at all. Because they require mortar to be put together, they are not as dense as other kinds of wall materials.

Walls made of concrete are what will absorb air the most. A wall that is made of concrete will keep a house much more warm during cool seasons than brick walls will.

However, walls that are built of concrete can make a house very moist. This is especially true for climates that are really hot, and you’ll need to account for this if you have decided to use concrete for your wall foundation. Now you have a general idea of what comprises the foundation of a house. No matter what type of foundation is selected, they all follow these general guidelines.

However, there do exist different types of foundation for a house, and they will now be explored a bit.

Conclusion

The foundation of a house does a lot more than keep it above ground. When it is put together perfectly, the foundation of a house will not only keep the house above ground, but it will also prevent excess moisture from entering a house.

Soil movement will also be micromanaged perfectly when the foundation is solid. Take some time and find out what kind of foundation your future home contains to see how it measures up against the climate and other elements of the environment around it. It could be a major influence in your decision.

Foundation is one of the most important parts of your home, if not the most important part. If your foundation is not matched up with the kind of soil it is built on as well as the weather surrounding the home’s foundation, it will encounter issues that may call for the foundation to be repaired.

One final thing that you need to understand about home foundation is that they are practically permanent, and this makes your decision of what kind of foundation you need for your home even more important.

Now that you know about the different types of home foundation that exist, you’ll be able to make a more focused decision about which kind of foundation you want to set up.