Foundations often receive much less attention than other parts of the building process. However, having a good foundation for your home is essential.
The whole structure of the house rests on the foundation. Any compromise in quality could have serious consequences in terms of expenses and safety. The building process has to account for the soil conditions, backfill, and water tables.
In this article, we will cover all the major points regarding foundations. You will learn about the different types and the common issues surrounding the building process.
What are the different types of foundations?
First, let’s take a look at the 3 most common foundations used in home construction.
Basements provide resistance to extreme weather conditions and add extra square footage to your home. However, this type of foundation comes at a higher cost. Building a basement is usually done in three steps:
- The beams are poured,
- Then the walls are added,
- And finally, the construction is completed with slabs put inside the walls.
In North Texas, this type of foundation will never be used, given that we don’t have basements, due to our expansive clay soils. When the clay dries, it shrinks, and when the clay gets moist, it would expand and collapse a basement.
Slab foundations is the cheapest option. There is not much preparation involved, and the installation requires much less effort compared to the other foundations.
This type of foundation works best against mold and pest infestations. The biggest drawback of slab foundations is that accessibility for repairs is very poor.
Crawl space foundations
Crawl space foundations are elevated off the ground. Usually, this elevation is approximately two feet. Regions with higher moisture levels are good for crawl space foundations. As your home is not directly sitting on the ground, there is going to be less damage from all the accumulated water. While crawl spaces have a lower risk of termites, they do face more mold and mildew issues than slabs. Water should never be allowed to accumulate under a crawl space as it will cause the supporting piers to sink.
What is the best foundation for your home?
There are no universal principles when it comes to choosing a foundation for your home. You should weigh various options and factor in the climate and soil underneath the house.
In Dallas, the most popular choice is generally going to be concrete slabs, which became dominant over crawl space foundation around 1960.
What are the common foundation building problems?
Now we will go over some of the typical problems related to foundation building.
- Not giving it enough time to cure. Concrete needs a lot of time to reach its maximum strength. You should keep the foundation damp for a minimum of three days. This is usually achieved by spraying water onto it or plastic-wrapping the structure. Concrete reaches maximum strength in about 28 days.
- Lack of insulation in basements. When you build a basement foundation, it is important to have insulation under the slab to minimize problems with mold and mildew. Plus, the space will feel more comfortable and inviting for living purposes.
- Damaging interruptions. Pouring the concrete has to be completed as one continuous action. Any interruptions will result in damage in the form of “cold joints.” These parts of the concrete come with a high risk of cracks and leaks.
- Improper compacting. Most slab foundation problems can be attributed to inadequate compacting.
- Low-quality backfill. Sand is the top layer of backfill in DFW. Below that is well-compacted clay soil that has been hydrated to a depth of 12 to 16 feet.
What makes a good foundation for a house?
Let’s look at practical tips and suggestions on how to build a great foundation for your home.
#1: Hide the rebar
The post tension cables should not see any sunlight.
You should keep the post tension cables away from the edge of the concrete. When the cables are closer or completely stick out from the concrete, there is a serious risk of rusting. As time passes, the rust could make the whole post tension system ineffective.
#2: Polish moderately
Refrain from over-finishing the concrete surface. Too much polish will seal it past the point that the acid stain is able to react.
#3: Pick the right post tension cable
The post tension cable needs to be the right size for your home. When it comes to spacing, the cable should be laid out in a way that considers the local soil conditions. You also need to account for local building codes.
#4: Check the foundation bolts
After finishing the slab, reserve some time to have the foundation bolts properly installed. Check that there will not be any air gaps that might allow pests to enter. This step is important to ensure the framing works out.
The bottom line: what makes a good foundation for a house?
Choosing the right foundation should be the first step. Everything else regarding your home can come after this decision. Due to the fact that your house quite frankly stands on the foundation, it has to be a good one.
Consider the climate, type of soil, and other factors when picking your foundation. If you are unsure which type of foundation would work best for your situation, consult with a qualified professional. Once you have chosen a foundation type, make sure to avoid the common mistakes of foundation building, such as improper compacting.