What is the Ideal Foundation Depth for Your New Home?
When building your home, you need to make sure you get the foundations right. Do you know the optimum foundation depth for your home? Keep reading to find out.
Between basement flooding, pest infestations, and foundation cracks, getting a foundation right is essential to avoid later problems with your home. Your foundation depth will determine how long your home lasts, how your utilities run, and what kind of storage space you'll have.
Before you start planning out your home, you need to consider what you want from your foundation. Depending on your climate zone or your budget, you will need to make a final decision before you can even design your home.
If you're trying to decide what the ideal foundation depth should be, here is a breakdown of the three major kinds of structures undergirding your home.
Dig For A Full Basement
This is one of the most popular foundations in the northeast US, although this style is popular all over the globe. For a full basement, your foundation depth will be below frost depth.
Basements have footings and typically 8-foot walls built on a 4-inch concrete slab.
The slab will serve as the floor of a room underground where you can store your home's mechanical and HVAC system or make use of it, as storage. With a little extra work, the space can be finished and made suitable for living.
Whereas basements of older homes must be retrofitted for living, newer home building projects often plan for a finished basement. This is the most cost-effective approach. It's much harder to ensure your basement has ventilation, light, and plumbing after you've already built the house.
Rigid foam beneath the slab will make the space a little more livable. Insulation can help reduce the mold and mildew issues that many basements face.
Leave Room For A Crawlspace
In areas of the South and the Midwest US, crawl spaces are used to prevent moisture and leave room for plumbing installation and service. It also leaves room for servicing your electrical system.
Crawl Spaces need to be sealed and insulated. For the ease of access, they leave the home vulnerable to mildew and rot.
In extreme situations, you might see pests begin to make their home in your crawlspace. Well ventilated crawl spaces keep your moisture out but can also be an entryway for rodents and insects.
Be sure that you crawlspace is sealed with vents small enough to keep raccoons, squirrels, and mice out.
Modern homes are insulated with a concrete slab or polyethylene vapor barrier between the home and the ground. In a big enough crawlspace, the heating unit can be stored, leaving space free inside your home.
A concrete slab poured directly onto the grade of the site is another option. This is the shallowest foundation depth. Your slab will be directly beneath your home's main floor.
These are found in the warmest parts of the US, especially warm places and those where flooding is common.
Once you dig your foundation, gravel is poured to ensure water can escape. Wire mesh is added to limit cracking. Any plumbing or conduits that are to be included in the foundation are set up and then concrete is poured over it all.
In colder climates, special frost-proofing is needed. Sometimes short walls are added with a layer of foam added for insulation.
Foundation Depth Depends On Other Factors
You're going to have to consider your budget and how quickly you need the house built. Deeper basements that are properly built take more time and money.
Don't cut corners when it comes to your foundation. If you're having trouble determining the ideal foundation depth for your new home, contact us.