One is not better than the other. One of the most important decisions you'll make when building a home is to determine the type of foundation you'll rest on. After all, foundations fulfill the essential functions of keeping the house in place even when the ground underneath it can move, insulate it, prevent moisture from entering, and keeping it level even if the house is built on a hill with a 45-degree angle. Builders choose foundations based on the location and climate of the house, the soil condition and humidity of the area and, of course, the budget.
The foundations of a complete basement begin with a hole at least eight feet deep to accommodate an underground living space whose floor space matches most or all of the home's ground level. You will place the structural foundation walls on concrete footings that run along the perimeter of the basement. Those shoes must be placed at least 12 inches below the previously undisturbed soil and at least 12 inches below the freezing line. Then, you'll lay beams, erect foundation walls, and place a concrete slab inside the walls.
The obvious advantage of a basement foundation is the additional living space it can provide; in fact, it can double the square footage of the house if the owners decide to finish it. Basement foundations are durable and resistant to fire and inclement weather. For houses built on a slope, the basement with natural light, which has at least one side embedded in the ground from floor to ceiling, can be a good alternative to the foundations of a full basement, as it even allows a separate entrance to the house. Wood may seem like an unusual choice for a base, but it became a popular choice in the 1960s.
Builders will use preservative-treated wood that is resistant to decay and easy to install. Because they don't require concrete pouring or labor-intensive masonry work, wood foundations are faster and less expensive to install. They work in the same way as an ocean dock: they fix long pillars, often more than 15 meters long, to reach the mainland and to the deepest layers of stone and earth. Builders use them in heavier homes because the pillars move the weight of the house over a large area, preventing the house from sagging.
Jordan Smith is the CEO and founder of Smith House Company, a design and construction company based in Austin, Texas. He learned to build and weld while working on the farm with his grandfather and, after earning a degree in Welding and Materials Engineering, he spent the next 10 years working in heavy construction, building everything from robots to ships and offshore oil platforms, before moving on to residential construction. After spending a couple of years working with industry-leading builders in Austin, Jordan and his wife Veronica set to work to found Smith House Co. It strives to build more beautiful, functional and resilient spaces that are self-sufficient and in harmony with their natural environment.
As the name suggests, a poured concrete slab is simply an 8-inch-thick flat section of concrete that is poured with wooden shapes. The shapes keep the concrete moist in place until it dries. Slabs usually contain reinforcing bars (metal rods connected together to create strength), but they may not have shoes (thick sections of concrete under load-bearing walls). In general, poured concrete slabs are affordable and easy to install.
They don't require a lot of digging or materials, and they can support quite a bit of weight. They are especially popular in areas of the country, such as the south and southwest, where problems such as freezing of the soil and pushing the slab upward are not a cause for concern. Poured concrete slabs are not as strong as other types of foundations, as they normally don't have footings to disperse the weight of the building. In addition, if there are utilities or something mechanical underneath the slab, any subsequent repair will require you to break the slab or dig underneath.
A small space is a type of foundation with short walls (usually masonry) along the perimeter and shoes below the center of the house. This creates a space underneath the house with a dirt floor and only a few feet of free space between the bottom of the house and the ground. These bases are vented to prevent moisture from accumulating. Foundations for tight spaces may be the best choice on rocky or sloped soils, especially in areas where freezing is a concern.
These foundations don't require as much excavation as a slab, making them relatively affordable. Narrow spaces are unfinished and unconditioned. This can create pest control problems, such as termites or rodents, and if the area is not properly ventilated, moisture and mold can grow. When we think of foundations, concrete may be the first material that comes to mind.
However, there are actually options primarily committed to wood, and while this may seem impractical, it has some benefits. Traditional wooden foundations were made from materials such as cedar, redwood and cypress. However, today's builders use pressure-treated wood because of its relative affordability and availability. Wooden foundations are very easy to build.
They require simple construction techniques and relatively basic tools. They're also ready to use as soon as they're built, as there's no need to worry about drying time. In addition, they require very little excavation, making these foundations ideal for sheds and very small buildings. Wooden foundations cannot withstand as much weight as concrete foundations.
In addition, they usually require some rot-resistant barrier between the base and the ground, such as concrete blocks, pavers, or gravel. And, as time goes on, even pressure-treated wood will begin to degrade and attract pests. Above ground slab foundations are high-strength concrete slabs with footings dug into the ground below the slab. They are usually reinforced with reinforcing bars and their wide bases disperse the weight of the upper building.
Concrete block walls can be built over the slab to create a basement or mezzanine, or the builder can frame the main floor just above the slab. Above ground slab foundations are much stronger than poured concrete foundations, allowing them to withstand the weight of a larger structure. The wide shoes distribute the weight and, at the same time, fix the base in place, making them a suitable choice for cold-weather regions where frozen ground can cause movement. And while these foundations require more excavation than poured slabs, they are still relatively affordable.
Overgrade slab foundations are affordable, but they are more expensive and time consuming than a poured slab. In addition, if any of the pipes or mechanical elements are under the slab, the repairman will have to break the slab or cut off the service and redirect it. The entire basement foundations consist of deeply dug shoes, walls that allow for standing space, and a concrete slab. Standard options are buried below ground level with small windows at ground level, while others have at least one wall above ground level (known as daytime foundations).
They can be finished to add useful space to the house, such as a games room or family room, or they can be left unfinished and used as storage. Full basements are all about flexibility. They can be used for workshops, entertainment spaces, storage or even warehouses. They are usually easy to condition, as masonry surfaces will stay cool in summer and retain heat in winter (once heated).
And because their bases are dug so deeply, full basements are very strong and stable. True, stone foundations are not as popular as they were before. However, until the widespread use of concrete, people took field stones from the ground around their property and piled them up to form walls. They may have been stacked dry (without mortar) or placed with mortar instead.
Stone foundations are incredibly traditional, and many people enjoy their classic look. In the past, this option was quite economical to build, as the owner normally removed the stones from his own property. Many of these bases still exist, demonstrating their durability over time. Very few jurisdictions will approve a traditional stone base these days.
In addition, because stones are naturally irregular, there can be holes and holes where rodents and pests can enter the basement. Despite the thermal mass of large boulders, these foundations tend to insulate poorly. Insulating concrete forms, or ICF, are a modern approach to building foundations. These bases consist of shapes made of extruded polystyrene (think styrofoam) that interlock like building blocks for children.
These shapes are lightweight as they have a space between the two foam panels. Once the panels are in place, the builder fills the resulting space with concrete. Foam blocks that form an insulated base in the form of concrete are expensive. In addition, they require shoes and, since most people intend to use this type of foundation for basements, they also need a slab.
Costs add up, but this option may still be worth it for some homeowners. The foundations of the pillars are somewhat similar to narrow spaces, as they support the house from an unfinished surface below. However, unlike narrow spaces, these foundations do not have perimeter masonry walls. Instead, they have shoes deeply dug into the charging points below the house.
There are usually sturdy woods that stretch from the foundation to the house, and this design helps keep the house dry and safe in coastal areas where floods are common. The foundations of the house can be one of the most expensive aspects of a project. A solid foundation can get the project off to a good start without a high price, while a full basement will cost much more in time and labor, but will provide more flexibility to the homeowner in the long run. In addition, you only have one chance to build a house, so it's important to consider the long-term use of the property.
If it's likely to be a “forever” home, the expense of an entire basement may be worth it. However, if it's an affordable home that the owner plans to live in and then rent or sell it in a few years, a slab variation or a small space may be best. Finally, consider site considerations. Some lands don't allow for a full basement, while other sites may require deeply dug bases or flood provisions.
In these cases, builders will likely need to consult an engineer to decide which foundation is best for the house. .