One of the most important aspects of building a new house is selecting the type of foundation for your it. The two primary types of home foundations are pier-and-beam structures and slab-on-grade structures. Before the middle of the 20th century, most homes were constructed using a pier-and-beam structure. However, today many homes have a slab foundation. Here’s how these home foundation types differ, along with their benefits and drawbacks.
What’s Involved in Pier-and-Beam Foundations
Most homeowners don’t understand what’s meant by a pier-and-beam foundation or how it works. Rather than sitting directly on the ground, this foundation is elevated. It has a crawl space under it, that’s about 18” high, that includes plumbing, electrical units and other utilities. The floors of a pier-and-beam foundation are supported on floor joists that are on wooden beams. Concrete beams support the exterior of the house, although they can also be supported by a masonry frame.
Advantages of a Pier-and-Beam Foundation
There are several benefits of a pier-and-beam foundation.
- Easy accessibility—Workers can easily get underneath a house to repair problems concerning electrical and plumbing issues as the crawl space is under them. This makes some types of foundation repairs easier to correct.
- Comfortable floors—It’s more comfortable to walk on the floors of this type of structure as the floors don’t rest on a concert, hard surface. Thus, they’re better for people with arthritis and those who suffer from back pain.
- Less money spent on repairs—A pier-and-beam foundation typically has less costly repair expensive than a slab foundation.
- Easier to find termite damage—This is because termites have to go through a crawlspace to access wood.
- Less chance of damage from ground—This type of foundation makes it less likely to be damaged by ground shifting, which is a problem for many homes in North Texas. But if ground shifting does happen, repairing the problem is considerably cheaper than having a slab foundation repaired.
Drawbacks of a Pier-and-Beam Foundation
- Mildew and mold can develop in a crawl space. Besides causing a musty odor, this problem can cause damage on wood, leading to a termite problem.
- This type of structure requires correcting drainage concerns or too much rain can build up underneath the structures, leading to problems.
- Because no insulation is underneath a pier-and-beam foundation, your floors can feel extremely cold during winter.
Pros of a Slab-on-Grade Foundation
- This foundation entails a single concrete layer with a thickness of several inches. To provide good drainage, the slab lies on crushed gravel. Unlike a pier-and-beam foundation, a slab-on-grade foundation is not elevated.
- One benefit of having a slab foundation is that pests and other critters cannot nest underneath your house.
- This foundation is a better choice for people with handicaps as only one or two steps are involved in entering a house.
- Leaking showers, tubs, or toilets won’t cause rotting on a concrete foundation.
- It’s generally cheaper than a pier-and-beam foundation.
Disadvantages of a Slab Foundation
- One of the main drawbacks of this kind of foundation is its inability to resist changes to seasonal movements.
- Also, because your pipes are stationed underneath the foundation, a burst water pipe can cost a considerable large sum of money.
Full Basement Foundation
There’s also a full basement house foundation. This type of foundation involves block and mortar walls or poured concrete walls, along with a poured concrete slab floor. An advantage to having a full basement foundation is that it adds space to a home, regardless if it’s finished or unfinished. Even if you choose not to finish a basement, it still offers a significant amount of storage room. Additionally, it’s a welcome feature in summer months as basements are usually cooler and generally don’t need air conditioning.
On the other hand, basements can cost more than other foundations. This is because of the footings and walls that are necessary below a frost line.
Foundation Considerations and Warnings
- Pier-and-beam structures are especially suited for certain regions that experience a definite dry and wet season. This kind of foundation is better for ground that tends to shift often.
- Sometimes, all the foundation types can be combined into a single home.
- It’s not unusual for creaking and sagging to occur on the flooring of a pier-and-beam structure.
If you’re unsure which type of foundation is best for your new home, or you need repairs done on your existing foundation, don’t hesitate to call Perma-Pier Foundation Repair of Texas.