What type of foundation do I have?

When we discuss what type of foundation a home has we ask ourselves 1 main question:

Can I crawl or go under my home?

If the answer is yes, then you likely have a Raised or Pier and Beam foundation.  If the answer is no, then you more than likely have a slab on grade foundation.  Let’s dive in deeper to why a home’s foundation is built differently.

Depending on when your home was built can have a direct correlation on which type of foundation system you have.  Raised foundations were all the rage for homes being built in the early 1900’s to the mid 1960’s.  The reason being is that the tools and materials were readily available.  Almost everyone had a hammer, nails, and wood to construct the foundation of the home.  What wasn’t as readily available was concrete trucks, concrete pumps and concrete in general.  Now there are some advantages for having a raised foundation in place.  Here they are:

– Easy access for plumbing repairs

– Easy access for any utility add ons (cable, phone, electrical, etc)

– Additional storage

Being able to perform some of these repairs and add ons can save yourself a ton of time, money, and headache from having to do them through a concrete slab.

Some of the disadvantages can be:

– Limited structural support

– Water intrusion

– Squeaky floors or dead spots

– Creatures living under your home

Slab on grade homes became popular as technology made constructing them more cost effective.  They also provide a little bit more structural integrity to the overall home by being a uniform system instead of utilizing wood and concrete.  They are all strictly just made out of concrete.  

Some advantages of slab on grade homes are:

– Uniform construction material for the foundation of the home

– Typically newer homes

– Solid floor 

These advantages are great, but what happens when you need to make any plumbing repairs?  You guessed it, you have to jackhammer out the floor and whatever is covering the slab to be able to perform the repairs. 

Some disadvantages of slab on grade homes:

– Accessing utility for repairs

Concrete cracks causing water to be able to come up through the slab

– Harder to perform DIY repairs 

As you can see, both systems have their advantages and disadvantages.  At the end of the day if you are experiencing a foundation settlement issue, both can be fixed in typically the same manor from the exterior and the only real change is how the interior floors are lifted.  So if you are still wondering what type of foundation you have, just remember to ask yourself the very first question: “Can I crawl under my home?”  That will let you know which category your home’s foundation will fall into.

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Brian Dalinghaus

Brian is one of the Co-Founders of Dalinghaus Construction. He has been in the foundation repair industry since 2005. During his career, he has been associated with helping over 4,000 homes and structures throughout California and Arizona.

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