Construction foundation types

Written by bianca james
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Selecting the correct foundation is important for the longevity, safety and stability of your home. There are several different foundations types, each one with a specific use and function. When considering which foundation type to use for your home, it is important to consult a professional engineer or architect for advice.

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Slab-on-Grade with Separate Footings

This type of foundation is composed of a concrete slab and separate footings. The footings are poured or constructed first and allowed to cure, then the slab is created by pouring concrete into formwork that is set into the ground. There is no space between the structure and the ground. The independent stem walls, or footings, support the walls and load of the building. Slab-on-grade is not ideal for areas prone to flooding due to the low elevation of the slab. Another drawback is that there is no room for ducts or utility lines to run under the ground floor. It is a sturdy foundation when used under the correct circumstances and can be used in colder climates.

Monolithic

A monolithic foundation is composed of a concrete slab poured on grade, however, it does not include the use of a stem wall or separate footings. Also called a "thickened-edge slab", this foundation is poured into formwork that is set into the ground. Instead of being a flat pour, the formwork is created to allow for a thickened edge. This integral footing supports the walls and load of the building. A monolithic foundation is not ideal for use in cold climates due to thawing and freezing of the ground and because of the potential for heat loss. Similar to a slab-on-grade foundation with separate footings, a monolithic foundation is not suitable for areas prone to flooding and does not allow room for ducts or utility lines to run under the ground floor. On the plus side, it is an economical solution and is resistant to termite infestation.

Crawl Space

A crawl space foundation is composed of a perimeter foundation wall. The foundation wall is built to a specific desired height and creates an accessible, though uninhabitable, space under the ground floor that can be used for running ducts, plumbing and utility lines through. A crawl space may be ideal if a full basement is not within the budget or if site restrictions (such as bedrock or the water-table levels) do not allow for a full basement installation.

Basement

A basement, or full foundation, is similar to a crawl space except that it is a habitable space with a concrete floor slab. This type of foundation is the most desired because of the storage or living space, resale value and protection from severe weather that basements offer. Basement foundation types are more expensive to construct than slab-on-grade or crawl space foundations, but oftentimes the value is higher in the long-run.

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