Your home’s foundation does more than hold your house above ground – it can also keep out moisture, resist earth movement, and help insulate the home. It’s called a foundation for a reason – it’s the most important structural component of the home! Different types of foundations for homes may serve different purposes, and knowing which yours has may be helpful when you apply for homeowners insurance.
Let’s explore the different types of foundations and how you can identify which your home has.
1. Concrete slab foundation
Concrete slabs are one of the most common and most cost-effective types of foundation for homes. Builders clear and level the ground, and then pour anywhere from four to eight inches of concrete and install drainage pipes and steel rods to reinforce the foundation. This prevents the concrete from cracking later on. The structure is then built directly on the concrete slab.
You know if you have a concrete slab foundation because there is no space between the cement and the floor. This type of foundation is also fairly low, so you need good drainage to prevent flooding. That said, concrete slab foundations are good for preventing mold and pests because there’s no air between the home and the foundation.
2. Crawlspace foundation
A crawlspace foundation is commonly used where the soil is difficult to dig. It raises the home upon concrete pillars that provide just enough space for someone to crawl under the house﹘usually four feet or less. This is how homeowners get to their plumbing or electrical components. Homes on crawl space foundations are less likely to see significant damage in areas where the groundwater is high. By lifting the living area of a home above the waterline, the owner can save on costly repairs or avoid making home insurance claims.
A homeowner can usually tell that they have a crawlspace foundation if they have several steps leading to their front door. A quick look under the house also reveals the pillars the structure sits on.
3. Elevated piers/pilings foundation
Similar to a crawl space, a piers or pilings foundation raises a home up, but as the name suggests, it uses piers or pilings to do it. Builders drive the pilings into the ground and place pile caps, typically made of concrete, across several pilings so that the weight of the structure is distributed among them.
This type of foundation is commonly used where putting in other foundations isn’t possible, like the side of a hill where digging uniform sections is difficult or in coastal areas where the soil shifts. They’re a durable way to secure a home and prevent flood damage because everything is elevated. Workers also have an easy time accessing home systems.
4. Basement foundation
Basement foundations are built by digging down about eight feet and either pouring concrete or laying bricks or concrete blocks. The space typically matches the footprint of the home and can be used for storage or made into additional living space. In fact, you can tell you have a basement because you can easily maneuver around it, walking freely under your house.
Aside from storage and additional living space, most builders also put the electrical, plumbing, and heating systems in the basement. Basements help keep a home cooler during warm weather by providing a place for air to flow. However, basements are more expensive than other foundations and require maintenance to prevent moisture, structural deterioration, and mold.
5. Elevated-with-enclosure foundation
An elevated-with-enclosure foundation raises a home above ground level and leaves an area of usable space. A good example is a home built over the garage or workshop. The space under the home is enclosed, may have a separate entrance than from the main home, and is often not a livable area. Additionally, the foundation may have flood openings.
This is a good foundation type for areas that work with the National Flood Insurance Program and have a base flood elevation. If water levels rise, the main living area is typically protected from damage.
Before you apply for home insurance, take a quick look at your foundation. The more accurate you are when answering questions about the type of foundation your home has, the more accurate your quote will be.