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A Guide To Home Construction Foundations


by Clare Kaufman
Repair-Home Columnist

Home construction foundations call for a professional's expertise. Your home builder or contractor knows which foundation type is best, and how to build it. But savvy homeowners who want to play a more active role in their home's construction should have a basic understanding of foundations. Here's a guide to your foundation options.

There are three major foundation systems available for today's home construction: slabs, basements, and crawl spaces. Which one you (and/or your contractor) choose depends on the location and style of the home.

#1 Slabs

The slab is the simplest and cheapest home construction foundation: a flat concrete pad poured directly on the ground. Compared to the other types of foundations, the slab requires minimal site preparation and labor.

Where: A slab foundation works well on level sites in warm climates. Slabs are not a good choice for regions with freezing temperatures. If the ground beneath the slab freezes, the slab can shift its position--besides, a frigid concrete slab makes for a chilly floor!

#2 Basements

Basement foundations are more labor-intensive, but offer more insulation. The builder or contractor begins with a hole about 8 feet deep, and lines it with concrete beams, walls, and a slab floor. Pouring concrete in three steps ensures a waterproof basement.

Where: A basement provides important shelter for homes vulnerable to severe weather such as hurricanes and tornados. For any other home construction, the main advantages of a basement foundation are extra living space, a convenient location for utilities such as water heaters, and a boost to the home's value.

#3 Crawl Space

A crawl space costs about the same as a slab home foundation (and much less than a basement), and offers some crucial benefits. In the typical home construction, the contractor builds a several foot-high cinder block wall on top of concrete beams, and reinforces the structure with brick facing.

Where: The crawl space foundation is a good idea in damp or termite-prone areas, because it raises the house off the ground. An added plus is the availability of space for plumbing and duct work.

Where you live and how much you are willing to spend determines which home construction basement is right for you. Discuss the options with a qualified contractor to make sure the home gets built right, from the ground up.

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About the Author
Clare Kaufman works as a writer and editor for an online media company. She has completed a graduate degree in English.