What foundation type do you have? The short answer: Does it have a basement? If so, its a Basement foundation. If you have a concrete floor or if it is a newer home, chances are you have a slab foundation. And if you have an older home, wooden floors, a crawl space/lifted area under the house, or it’s in a rural area, chances are you have a pier and beam foundation. If you are still unsure you could always have an expert give you an evaluation. Some businesses do it for free.
The Geography of Foundation Types
You can sometimes determine the structure of your home according to its location. In the United States, Northerners typically have a basement foundation, the middle section has crawl spaces, and southerners’ homes have slab or pier and beam foundations.
While this is really just a rule of thumb and houses all over the nation, regardless of geography, can have either a basement, crawl space or slab foundation, it is a quick key in assessing what your foundation type might be. This is why most foundation repair companies specialize in all types.
Understanding Home/Building Foundation Types
Basements are primarily built to avoid damage from the frost line. Basements are the most apparent type of foundation since, well, how could you miss a basement? Utilized as extra living space, basements combine structure and functionality. Basements also make it easier to recognize foundation problems like cracked floors and walls due to expansive soils.
Crawl spaces consist of poured footing and foundation walls. These walls assist in supporting the home and provide slightly more protection during storms than slab foundations. Crawl spaces also allow for accessible utilities which can keep the cost of repairs low. Crawl spaces, if not properly insulated can cause mold. If you are able to access the space beneath your home and adjacent utility systems, your foundation is most likely a crawl space.
Slab foundations provide a low cost solution for builders and are built by digging a trench, spreading gravel and pouring concrete. The concrete provides support to a home or building’s walls. If you’ve found or been told that your plumbing, ductwork or electrical wiring are difficult to access than your home is probably built on a slab foundation. Slab foundations, over time, can cause cracks, upheaval and more.
Pier & Beam Foundations
Pier and beam foundations use “pads” of concrete and beams to support the floor and walls. This is utilized when more traditional foundations are not an option. Pier and beam foundation have concrete beams or masonry foundation. Issues that arise from pier and beam foundations include cracks in the sheet rock or brick veneer. Supports can sink and the joist can crack or break, rot or fail to function properly.
Knowing what type of foundation your home or building sits on and increasing your knowledge of this type can potentially save your home. Keep your eyes open for the first signs of a foundation issue so you can have it quickly repaired.