You can't have a stable home without a strong foundation. That said, there's more the one kind of foundation used to stabilize a residential space. How, then, can you find out what kind of foundation your house has? We've got the answer to what to look for to identify your house's foundation type.
There are three types of housing foundations: daylight basements, crawlspaces, and concrete slab-on-grades. These three foundations have distinct physical features, making them straightforward to identify. That said, the professional contractors in your area can also help you distinguish any of your home's foundational quirks.
Determining what kind of foundation your home has can help you with later home renovations. This knowledge can even help you prevent the common problems that might otherwise plague your home, including pest infestations and water damage. Keep reading to learn more about the three types of housing foundations, their pros and cons, and the best way to determine for yourself what kind of base your home is sitting on.
How To Find Out What Foundations My House Has
Determining what kind of foundation your home has doesn't have to be a complicated process. While it can be difficult to distinguish between some foundations, the three most common have particularly-distinct physical features.
Some basements double as your foundation and as extra living space. If you can put the extra space beneath your home for extracurricular use, then you have, at a minimum, a basement foundation. A daylight basement foundation has at least one of its sides exposed to the elements.
Homeowners can also maneuver through crawlspaces, but it's difficult for anyone to use these spaces for entertainment. These spaces tend to be smaller than the average basement. In turn, you can identify a crawlspace foundation by its size and accessibility.
If you have neither a basement nor a crawlspace, then you likely have a slab foundation. That said, you can still work with the professionals in your area to determine what specific supports you have beneath your home.
What Are The Three Types of Foundations?
Whether you're building your own home or moving onto an existing property, you'll find yourself contending with one of three different foundations. These foundation types include:
Basement foundations serve as active-use foundations. Not only do these foundations support your home, but you can also use them as additional living space.
The daylight basement will often consist of living space and a sunken space, or a space that varies underground and provides a home the support it needs. These foundations can be made out of materials like concrete and subsequently protected from the elements by home waterproofing measures.
That said, there are distinctions to be made between the daylight basement and the traditional full basement. Full basements have four or more walls made out of concrete. These basements are entirely underground, meaning that it's more difficult for them to make use of natural light.
Comparatively, daylight basements often have one or more walls exposed to the environment. As a result, these spaces are easier to use for family means.
They are also simpler to access, should mold, mildew, or other forces start to compromise the structural integrity of your home. That said, daylight basement foundations tend to see more water damage over time due to their exposed siding.
Crawlspace foundations don't provide their homes with the same livable space as daylight basements, but they do provide a house with the structural support it needs.
To create a crawlspace foundation, construction teams first dig out a space—usually four-feet deep or deeper—beneath the land where a home will eventually sit. They outline this space with concrete walls meant to bear the weight of a completed house.
While crawlspace foundations may not be livable spaces, they do require ventilation to effectively protect a home. You can work with area contractors to install effective vents and to invest in crawlspace waterproofing to prevent long-term structural damage.
Concrete slab foundations are, as the name suggests, slabs of concrete that support your home. Contractors pour these slabs in one go, ensuring that there aren't any cracks in the concrete that might otherwise result in structural decay. Most homes in the southern United States benefit from concrete slabs, as they offer home support without requiring contractors to contest unstable or damp ground.
Unlike crawlspaces and daylight basements, concrete slabs aren't likely to attract pests over time. That said, they don't provide families with extra living or storage space, either. Even so, they're a viable foundation to work with if your ground is unsteady or if you're contending with an uneven grade.
What is the Best Foundation Type for a House?
Of the three foundations, no one is better than the other two. Rather, the type of foundation that best suits your home will depend on where you live and your unique environmental factors.
For example, homes closer to sea level tend to benefit from slab foundations, as construction teams don't have to dig into damp soil. Comparatively, homes with lower-than-average frost lines may enjoy the benefits of a full basement.
To determine which foundation will suit you best, get in touch with the professionals in your area. Together you can assess the stability of your land and determine what kind of needs your new home may have. Similarly, area professionals can help you determine what kind of foundation an existing home already has.
How Do You Know How Deep Your Foundation Is?
If you want to determine how deep your foundation is, you'll want to explore your excavation options. You can excavate part of your foundation on your own and measure the concrete walls to the edge of your foundation.
This project is easier, though, when you have professional contractors on hand. If your foundation is especially deep, you can ask area experts to dig down to the bottom of your walls and report back as to how deep it lies.
In most circumstances, your foundation is at least deeper than your area's frost line. Because your foundation needs to withstand seasonal change and protect your home from flooding, it should be positioned in such a way as to limit its contact with outside forces.
How Does a House Sit on a Foundation?
Your house does more than just sit on top of your foundation. The team that originally constructed your home connected the two features to ensure their overall unity.
There are a few different ways to connect a home to its foundation. You can use concrete lag anchors to bind together the concrete walls with the rest of your home. If your foundation is based around a wooden structure, you can also rely on anchor bolts.
Note that it's never a good idea to try and install or replace your home's anchorage on your own. If you notice that you're having foundation troubles, reach out to the professional contractors in your area. You can work with them to ensure that your foundation is stable and that there aren't any gaps between the two fixtures.
Grading and Your Foundation
The grade of your lawn will also impact how your house sits on top of your foundation. A lawn's grade is not a rating of its structural integrity but rather an estimate of its angle. If you have a positive grade lawn, that means that water near your foundation will run away from your home. Comparatively, a lawn with a negative grade directs water back towards the home.
You'll want to consider the grade of a property's lawn when determining where to place new construction. It's in your best interest to establish your foundation on a positive grade, thus limiting the amount of water damage your home may otherwise endure.
That said, if you're moving onto an existing property, you'll want to grade the lawn before signing any paperwork. There's a chance that a home with a negative grade may already be suffering from some degree of foundation damage. If you're able to catch this damage early, you can limit how it might otherwise impact the structural integrity of your home.
Learn More About Your Foundation Today
The foundation of your home requires just as much TLC as the rest of your home's square footage. You can't give your foundation the care it needs without knowing how it supports your home, though. Luckily, you can work with area professionals to determine what kind of foundation supports your home. Alternatively, you can look around your home to identify your home's foundation.
Don't fall behind on your foundation's regular care. When you know what kind of foundation you have beneath your house, home maintenance becomes that much easier.