Foundations support the whole structure of your Dallas Fort-Worth home. It bears the heavy load of an entire building. It is vital to avoid making common foundation mistakes made by many homeowners.
Your foundation has to fulfill the following goals:
- Protect your home from the groundwater entry
- Provide adequate structural support for your home
- Prevent the intrusion of water and soil vapor
There are many factors to consider when deciding on the best type of foundation for your home.
Continue reading to find the three most common home foundations and their respective pros and cons.
#1: Crawl space foundation
Compared to basements, crawl space foundations will save you money. However, you won’t save any time. The building process of a crawl space foundation takes a similar amount of time as a full basement foundation.
When you have a crawl space foundation, the supporting structure has an elevation of a few feet from the ground. Crawl space foundations are built by first pouring a footing. After that, the blocks are laid for creating the structure’s supportive walls.
Pros of crawl space foundations
+ Warmth. When you have a slab foundation, the first floor feels like it is built on concrete, making it much colder. Opting for a crawl space foundation instead will result in much warmer floors.
+ Accessibility. Crawl space foundations fix the biggest issue with a slab foundation: accessibility for repairs and maintenance. You or any hired workers can access the ductwork, plumbing, and wiring more easily than with slab solutions.
Cons of crawl space foundations
– Less green. Compared to slab foundations, for example, the crawl space approach is less energy efficient. The empty space under your home will decrease the sustainability of the building as a whole.
– More expensive. The final cost of your crawl space foundation depends on a variety of factors. Nevertheless, on average, building a crawl space foundation results in more expenses. In extreme cases, the price difference could be double that of a slab foundation. Unless the crawl space is kept perfectly dry, in clay soil it will cause foundation movement and damage walls, ceilings, and floor tiles.
#2: Slab foundation
Slab foundations are common in areas that have clay soil. This type needs the least preparation before building can begin. Compared to other foundations, the slab is less expensive and quicker to build.
The architecture of a slab foundation is easy. The support structure is steel reinforced a concrete slab that has a house built on top of it.
There is not a lot of evidence backing up the common perception that slab foundations are more durable than basement or crawl space foundations, except in areas of expansive clay soils. Each type of foundation has strengths and weaknesses.
Pros of slab foundations
+ Lower price. Compared to all the other foundation types, the slab foundation tends to be the cheapest. However, the cheaper price does not reflect inferior quality. This foundation is more affordable because of the building materials and techniques.
+ Well suited to clay soils. Slabs tend to “float” on the surface of the ground. Changes in soil moisture can crush a basement foundation.
+ Infestation resistance. Crawl space foundations come with a significantly higher risk of mold growth, whereas thick concrete slabs prevent mold colonies from thriving below the house. Also, a slab foundation faces fewer pests and vermin.
Cons of slab foundations
– Expensive repairs. Slab foundations do not offer easy accessibility. Since plumbing is buried under the slab, every major repair means breaking through the concrete.
– No storage space. Since there is a large piece of concrete under your home, you will miss out on the extra storage space that a crawl space could provide. Additionally, the concrete can feel hard even with a great floor covering.
– Improper drainage can cause problems. When water is not drained away from a slab foundation built on clay soil, it will cause the foundation to rise and fall unevenly, leading to cracks in wells and ceilings.
#3: Basement foundations
A basement foundation is like an extensive crawl space. This area under your home may be used for storage and living purposes. The biggest difference compared to the crawl space foundation is its depth. In most cases, the minimum depth is eight feet above the footing.
Basement foundations are likely to be the most expensive out of the trio due to the fact that building them demands additional materials and takes more time. In the long run, the higher cost may be balanced by higher resale value. In much of Texas, this type of foundation is rarely used, due to the presence of clay soil.
Pros of basement foundations
+ Additional square footage. One of the top advantages of basement foundations is the extra square footage. This additional space comes at a much lower cost compared to the other areas in your home. Plus, the basement could be finished at a later time.
+ Weather protection. Basements work great as storm shelters. In the rare case of extreme weather conditions like tornados or hurricanes, your family can find shelter in the basement.
Cons of basement foundations
– High building costs. Basement foundations are much more expensive than conventional options. The building process takes longer and requires more materials.
– Flooding potential. Basements are prone to flooding. The first line of defence is buying and installing a sump pump. Some homeowners lower the risk even further by installing backup batteries or generators. Also, the soil must be sloped so that water drains away from the house.
– Not suitable for construction in clay soils.
What else should I note about common foundations?
- Slabs make it hard to inspect for termites.
- Slab structure reduces condensation.
- Slabs make it impossible to have the HVAC system under your home.
- Crawl spaces are especially prone to moisture issues.
- Crawl space foundations work well in clay soils, provided the soil is kept dry.
- Crawl space foundations are a great option for sloped lots.
- Crawl space foundations make home inspections easier.
- Basement foundations may result in a higher risk of radon problems.
- Basements increase homebuyer appeal.
- Walkout basements need a sloping lot.
The bottom line: the pros and cons of common foundations
There is not a single best foundation: different types of foundations have their unique pros and cons, dependent upon the soil type on which they are built.
The basement foundation is the most expensive, but it provides a potential living and storage space. Slab foundations are the cheapest option among the most common foundation types. The biggest disadvantage is a great reduction in repair accessibility. Crawl space foundations provide easy repair access and are cheaper than basements, but their energy efficiency is poor.
In Texas, due to the widespread presence of expansive clay soils, the most common foundation is the slab foundation. Weigh various advantages and downsides of slabs, crawl spaces, and basement foundations to pick the best one for your Greater Dallas or Fort Worth area home.
If you would benefit from hiring a professional foundation repair company in the Dallas Fort-Worth area, contact Granite Foundation Repair today!