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Foundation Types in New Construction

by Jeffrey Cosgrove 01/01/2022

Image bybluebudgie from Pixabay

One of the things you need to decide upon when planning a new home is the type of foundation you want. For some, it's an easy choice if you live in an area where your preferred choice is the best type of foundation for the recommended construction methods. Before getting too excited about a certain type of foundation, think about the climate and the location of the home on the property. Climate impacts you need to take into consideration include frost depths and flooding. It also matters whether the house is located below a cliff or at the base of a mountain or hill or even a gentle slope. You also need to consider the type of soil on the home site and the depth of the soil.

With so many factors to think about, it's important to go over all of your options. Here are the most common types of foundations in new construction homes:

Footing and Stem Walls

In areas where the front line isn't too deep, you can use a footing and stem wall system. In this type of foundation, a short wall is built on footers. The wall and the footers support the house. Footing and stem wall construction is also used when builders are building a slab. The footings in this type of foundation can range from 12 to 36 feet wide and 18 to 48 inches deep. The stem walls vary in height depending on the site.

Slab on Grade Foundation

If the area you live in has an extremely low or no frost line you can use a slab on grade foundation. The slab is poured directly on the ground. Builders could use post tension cables to help keep the slab stable.

Drilled Shaft Concrete Piers

Though this system is usually used in commercial projects, concrete piers can be very cost-effective for larger residential projects. This type of foundation is great for areas that have high plasticity clay soil. If you choose this method, you will need structural engineering to analyze the soil and to create the design.

Basement Foundations

Before choosing a basement, you should know whether the soil retains too much water, if you are in a flood zone, how high the water table is, and other factors that could affect whether the basement cracks or floods later. The one warning we have for those building a basement is to make sure your builder uses the best waterproofing materials on the exterior of the basement walls. It might cost you extra now, but it's better than costing you thousands later. You can build a basement with poured concrete or insulated concrete forms. If you use insulated concrete forms, water has less chance of seeping in because the walls are not as porous as poured cement walls.

Make sure that the layout and footprint of the house are suitable for a basement. Don't forget that if the house site is on a ledge, the cost is higher if they have to blast part of the ledge away.

Permanent Wood Foundations

This type of foundation lasts for decades and is more common in the northern parts of the country. The foundation is made of pressure-treated wood and protected by thick sheeting and roofing felt. The wood basement walls sit on a concrete floor. You can also use this method for crawlspaces. Before you start building, your property will have to undergo several tests, depending on your area's building codes. The codes will help you eliminate certain types of foundations because of the environment.

Your goal is to pick the foundation that provides the most protection for your home, whether it is from high winds, floods, earthquakes and other environmental factors. When your property is tested and / or inspected, speak with the building officials about the results to make sure you understand them. Discuss the results with your builder to make sure you pick the best foundation for your home - one that will not only protect your home, but will last for many years.