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The Four Home Construction Foundations

by Clare Kaufman

Repair-Home Columnist

Before you call your home contractor to discuss foundation plans for your new home, it helps to know your way around construction foundations. You'll want to select the right foundation for the job, taking into account climate, location, and the style of your new home. Here's a look at your options.

There are four basic types of home construction foundations: basement, crawlspace, slab, and post. The foundation type determines the distance between the home and the soil on which it rests. A basement is essentially an underground room, a crawlspace is a slightly elevated floor, a slab rests directly on the soil, and a post or pier elevates the house above the ground.

  1. Basement.  A basement is an important feature for homes subject to winter frost. Because a slab or surface foundation would 'heave' with the soil during freeze/thaw cycles, the foundation footing must extend below the frost line, about five feet below ground. Many homeowners choose to dig a few feet deeper to add living and storage space as well.
  2. Crawlspace. Soil conditions or a high water table may prevent construction of a basement below the frost line so a full basement is not an option. A crawlspace can still prevent the heaving associated with frost, protect the home structure from dampness and termites, and insulate the house. In addition, the crawlspace provides easy access to plumbing.
  3. Slab. If you are building a home on a level site in a warm climate, your home contractor may suggest a concrete slab. A slab is the cheapest home construction foundation available, because it can be poured right onto the ground with little or no soil preparation. A concrete slab is also an effective barrier against insects and termites.
  4. Post or Pier. Homes in coastal areas or flood-prone regions are often built with pole or pier-style foundations, to raise the home's floor above potential water levels. Pole foundations are made of wooden posts, and piers of cement. Contractors use cement piers to secure mountain or coastal homes built directly on rock.

Choosing the right foundation is a crucial step in your home construction. Your contractor can advise you on the best options for your climate and location.


HomePlans, Know Your Foundation Options

HomeTips.com, The House's Foundation


About the Author

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