When it comes to a home, the most important part is the foundation. Everything sits on the foundation. If the foundation is good, everything else can be fixed. That's the general consensus anyway. But beyond a “good” foundation, is there a “best” type of foundation?
We offer all types of foundations. And we can modify almost all of our home plans to include the type of foundation you would like. But many people don’t look at the foundation or its important role it has beyond holding the house up.
When they hear the word "foundation", most people think of a basement. For a lot of Americans that is the type of foundation they grew up around, unless they are from the Deep South or the South-West. But when someone says basement, everyone knows what they are talking about.
The Full Basement
The benefit of a full basement foundation is obvious, the room. Generally you will have a basement that is the same shape of the house above it, giving you a lot of extra room. Secondarily, you can finish the basement, meaning you build out rooms and add wall coverings and flooring and make it a livable space. You get extra storage space and the option to expand into it for living space in the future.
The draw back to a full basement is the extra cost to construct. Digging out a basement can be expensive. Then there is the need to add in utilities to deal with water. You must protect the area from water getting in and then have a way to remove it if it does. And of course, not every location is suitable for a basement. Areas with very high water tables or areas with bedrock makes it almost impossible to dig, preventing you from having a full basement.
The Crawl Space
Many homes have crawl spaces as the foundation. This means the home is sitting on short pilings, usually cement blocks, that raise it up off the ground. This type of foundation is very easy and quick to construct. There is very little excavating needed, which keeps labor and material costs down.
Typically a crawl space leaves enough room under the home so that plumbing and electrical systems can be serviced easily. You do not have the same issues with water as a full basement does but you still must contend with moisture. You can’t let moisture buildup under the home because it can cause all sorts of problems. There is also the issue with critters. Unfortunately, a crawl space is a great place for all kinds of critters to call home. Crawlspace foundations are common in the Deep South.
The Slab Foundation
You will notice that most of our homes are designed on a slab foundation. Without getting too technical, a slab foundation is just that: a huge, thick slab of cement the house sits on. This may seem basic and simple, but a modern slab foundation is a very high tech thing.
The slab foundation requires less excavation than a full basement and it is simpler and cheaper than a crawl space. When you build a full basement or a crawl space, you then need to build a floor structure over it. A slab foundation is both the homes foundation AND the floor structure.
A slab foundation can have heating and cooling elements built within it. Using radiant heating technology, a slab can be fitted with tubing that circulates either hot or cold fluid through it. This is a very efficient way to keep a home comfortable year round. The mass of the slab is put to use for you. When you heat that much mass up it will retain that heat and dissipate it for a long time. The same for cooling it down. A slab foundation is better for efficiency than a crawl space or a full basement.
Stem Wall Foundation
Similar to a slab is a stem-wall foundation. The only main difference is the slab's perimeter utilizes a masonry block stem wall to lift the home's floor above the surrounding grade. These are used in low lying areas or flood zones to keep house safe from potential flooding.
But which foundation is best? As with many things in life, there is no straight answer to that question. Being in Florida, we commonly use slab or stem wall foundations. However each geographical region has its own best solutions depending on topography, climate, water table, wind speeds, soil type and more. Consult your local design professional for recommendations for your specific property. Most all of our homes can be modified to suit any of these foundations. Please consult us for availability.