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Types of House Foundations

Which One Fits Your House?

The type of foundation each house is built on mostly depends on the soil type of the house construction site and the type of climate in that area also affects what type of foundation the house will have.

Some types of house foundations will not do very well in wet weather or cold weather hence the need to consult an engineer before deciding on which foundation is best for you.

There are three main types of house foundations, raised foundations with crawl space, concrete slab foundations and basement foundations, and each one of them is suited to particular conditions.

Raised Foundation With Crawl Space

Crawlspace foundations are also known as raised foundations and are one of the best foundation types that a house can be built on.

Crawlspace foundations are foundations that are raised from the ground by at least 18 inches using piers and beams or the stem wall.

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Crawlspace foundations are usually a common site in damp areas or areas that easily flood to prevent water damage to the structure and to also prevent an infestation from rodents that thrive in damp areas.

Crawlspace foundations have certain advantages such as being less costly than basement foundations, easier to maintain plumbing, heating, and air conditioning because of the accessible space in the crawlspace.

Related: Crawl Space Vapor Barrier

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Concrete Slab Foundation

A slab foundation is a type of foundation that is poured directly on the construction site. A concrete slab foundation is a thick flat slab that is reinforced with steel bars and wire mesh, and the slab is poured on crushed gravel which levels the site.

Concrete slab foundations are suitable for warm climates because cold weather is likely to crack it.

Related Slab Crack Repair

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foundation repair on unstable foundation

Basement Foundation

A basement foundation is a type of foundation with a high foundation wall and then a slab at the base. Basement foundations can either be at room height where people are able to walk and stand upright just like regular rooms or it can be a partial basement.

The walls and slab are properly reinforced and also waterproofed to prevent any water or property damage in the basement. Unlike other types of foundations, basement foundations can be turned into living spaces or for storage.

Related Seismic Retrofit House Bolting

Post and Pier Foundation

Another method of house foundation is a system that is built from wood posts connected to concrete piers that are set into the ground, distributing the weight of the building through the connecting beams.  Overall it is an easier system to build and less expensive than the more common perimeter concrete foundation. It is appropriate only for houses in areas with a low likelihood of seismic activity or very strong winds since the posts sit closer to the surface of the ground.

Related: Post and Pier Repair

Caissons and Grade Beams

Caissons and grade beams are a strong foundation type that is most commonly used in a hillside home stabilization.

This type of foundation is the best system to use when other foundation types are incompatible with the conditions.

This foundation support system includes mixing concrete and reinforced steel (rebar) into a deep shaft hole that is drilled into the soil unto the targeted bedrock.

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This system is a permanent sturdy substructure that protects from soil collapsing and water pressure and allows for excavation to proceed while it is being sunk into position. An easy way to identify it is to look for round looking columns of concrete around your home. If your house is on a hillside, most likely you have caissons and grade beams in place.

Related: Caissons and Grade Beams

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    A Foundation Which Appears Level May Need Repair

    Despite popular misconception, simply examining the levelness of a slab is not a sufficient means of determining whether underpinning is needed. Although slab measurements are a widely used method of determining the levelness of a slab, they cannot and should not be used as the sole basis of evaluation on the need for foundation underpinning. There are a variety of issues that should be addressed with underpinning that will not be detectable by measurement of the slab alone.  Foundation-which-Appears-Level-may-need-Repair

    No newly constructed slab is perfectly level
    When a new home is constructed, numerous aspects affect slab parameters such as the slope, shape, support elements, degree of soil construction, and the weight of the structure it supports, among other things. Given the fact that human handiwork cannot reach machine precision, an absolutely 100% level slab at the time of construction is absolutely impossible. It is quite feasible that during the time of construction of a home, a slab will have a slope of 2 inches or more, and the residence will be built to sustain this deflection. Therefore, any leveling done on this house in the future to correct the incline may actually negatively affect structural integrity.

    Related: Common Misconceptions About Foundations

    Slab foundations are constantly moving due to soil expansion

    Soils in and around Los Angeles tend to have expansive qualities, so the moisture content of the soil constantly fluctuates. Moist soils expand and dry soils contract, and for this reason slab measurements taken over extended periods of time will show varying levels of deviation. The deviation of a slab is an important criteria, but it is not the only factor to consider when examining a foundation.

    A structure in need of significant repairs can still yield a level reading
    Because of moisture fluctuations, a slab which was not completely level when built, can undergo soil expansion or contraction underneath the slab, and will still show a level reading.

    Relying on Measurements Alone is a Big Risk!

    Measurement of slab foundations slopes is not the only way to tell if a foundation is in need of repair. Relying solely on measurements to determine the condition of a foundation often leads to inaccurate evaluations, and risks incurring further damage to a home. Examining the soil conditions in the area in which the home is located, the shape of the slab, and an understanding of the mechanics of slab construction all factor in to come to a well-informed decision on whether or not to recommend foundation repair.
    Measurements, Observation, Soil Analysis, and Experience

    Related: Foundation repair solutions

    California Foundation Works tried-and true methods of foundation repair have been tested successfully over the years, and will effectively counteract the effects of expansive soil on slab foundations. When inspecting a foundation we provide a free estimate for the repair, informed by our experience, extensive knowledge of Los Angele soils, thorough structural analysis, and measurement-taking. We have recommended repair on homes for issues that other foundation contractors have mixed, and just as often we have found no need for repairs on homes that other companies recommended unnecessary repairs. We pride ourselves on our integrity, and always fully stand by our evaluations of slab foundations.

    Related : 5 Important Reasons to Repair your Home’s Foundation
    If your home is displaying signs of foundation problems, contact California Foundation Works today at 323-418-2239! Our trained experts will be happy evaluate your home’s foundation for structural integrity.