The foundation is the basis for any building, and without a solid foundation, the building is not going to last. The ground below it will shift, causing a variety of issues starting with cracks. Foundations can vary, depending on the type of building, the location, and the desired use. The most common types of foundations used today include basement foundations, crawl space foundations, and on-slab foundations.
Basements are common in many different places and can be a full or partial basement. Full basements match the perimeter of the building above it and consist of footings that extend below the frost line along with structural walls that go around the perimeter of the basement. Partial or daylight basements don’t match the perimeter of the building and are often built on slopes, so they do allow some basement into the basement area. Though the overall size is different, they are built similar to how a full foundation would be constructed.
Crawl Space Foundations
In some areas, crawl spaces under the building are more common. The building itself rests on footings and short foundation walls that extend around the perimeter of the building above the ground. In most cases, it’s necessary to crawl through this space for access, thus the name. However, some can be taller and be used as storage spaces. These spaces typically include vents to allow for airflow without larger pests having access to the area.
Another common type of foundation is the on-slab foundation. This type of foundation is a large cement slab that matches the perimeter of the building. The construction of the building is done directly on top of the cement slab. These are more common in areas where the ground doesn’t freeze, as the freeze and thaw cycle can damage the cement slab, causing serious issues for the home. Once constructed, these foundations can’t be changed to a crawl space or basement foundation.
Which Foundation is Best?
The answer to this question does vary quite a bit. The most common variable might be where someone lives. In colder climates, an on-slab foundation likely will not be a good option because of the depth of the frost line, though there are ways for it to work. It can just be more expensive. In other areas, a basement may not be possible due to high water tables below the ground. Crawl spaces are common in a variety of different places, but they may not be preferred because they cannot be used as an extra living space like a basement.
What to Watch Out for With a Foundation
Foundations are designed and constructed to be durable since they have to hold up the entire building above them. Yet, they can have issues, and the issues can worsen over time. Small cracks may be noticed in many foundations, yet they aren’t always a sign of trouble. Property owners should know the basic signs of foundation trouble and when to call for help.
If the crack is vertical and widens as it nears the top, however, it’s a sign that a professional is needed. This could be an indication that the foundation is settling unevenly, and it could get worse over time. If the crack is horizontal, it could indicate the wall is failing. This isn’t common for on-slab foundations but can happen with crawl spaces and basements. If it is noticed, professional help is needed immediately to prevent the issue from getting worse.
Inspecting a Foundation
Homebuyers and homeowners will want to inspect the foundation. Buyers should take a look at any visible components before purchasing the home, and homeowners will want to inspect the foundation regularly to note any changes in cracks or new cracks that may appear. If the homeowner notices a crack that appears to be growing or any other signs of foundation issues, it’s imperative they seek help to have the foundation repaired right away. The longer they wait, the more extensive the issue will be and the more it will cost to fix.
Foundations are the basis for every building, so it’s important to understand at least the basics for how they work, how they’re constructed, and what to look out for to make sure the foundation remains in good shape. With this knowledge, it’s possible to make sure the foundation is solid and that the building is going to be fully supported far into the future. If anything does happen, it’s possible to fix the foundation and once again secure the property.