Building a home is an exciting venture. Homeowners get to choose wall coverings, flooring materials, up-to-date appliances, room size variances, and windows and doors. But, what most homeowners do not realize is that building a home starts from the ground up, from the foundation.
The most important step to building a new home is choosing the most efficient and safe foundation for your property location. Researching foundation bases is essential in securing the structure of your new home. Some contractors are knowledgeable about foundations and will help you choose which is best for your home. But, there are many who will pour a foundation of their choosing without discussing the choice with you, the homeowner.
Two foundation choices that a new homeowner should be aware of are slab-on-grade foundations and pier and beam foundations. The two are quite different when it comes to construction, cost, and longevity.
Slab-on-grade foundations are constructed with reinforced concrete and are usually shallow, quickly built, and inexpensive. For a builder that doesn’t have to live in the homes that he builds, slab foundations are a dream. Slab foundations are used with homes that do not have basements. A major disadvantage to slab-on-grade foundations is that they are not resistant to seasonal movement changes and moisture disbursement due to root growth. In other words, slab foundations are not a long-term option for homes in North Texas. Another disadvantage is that generally all piping is placed under the slab foundation causing a very costly procedure should a water pipe burst.
Pier and beam foundations, on the other hand, rate a few steps above a slab-on-grade foundation. Pier and beam foundations incorporate a crawl space (usually at least 18 inches) beneath the home and footings filled with concrete to support the slab. This type of foundation is not considered a time saver, but it is safer and more convenient. The crawl space allows access to heating and plumbing utilities without having to break through the concrete slab. The piers mean foundations are less susceptible to damage due to ground shifting, a problem many North Texas homes with slab foundations experience. If extreme ground shifting does occur, the foundation is easily adjusted, a process that is much less expensive than slab foundation repairs, a process most homes in North Texas will have to undergo.
Since pier and beam foundations leave homeowners walking on a suspended wood platform, they are much easier on the body’s joints. Pier and beam foundations are preferred by back pain suffers over slab foundations.
Pier and beam foundations are generally used for homes built in the Northern part of the country because the climate consists of the freeze and thaw conditions. This condition requires that the foundation be built deeply in to the ground. The safety feature here is that deep foundations are very rarely affected by climate changes. But, the shifting grounds of North Texas make pier and beam foundations the best, longest-lasting choice for foundations in the area.
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