The type of foundation you want for your home is an important step in determining storage space, future living space, and there are many options to choose from.
Today we are going to review the most popular and effective options that Stone's Prestige Homes provides our customers; a full basement, frost wall, or footings. Each of these has their pros and cons, depending on your lifestyle and budget.
8ft Concrete Foundation (Basement)
A basement foundation consists of 8ft concrete walls, increasing your home’s square footage by double. This is a great advantage to you if you require a lot of space for extra rooms, storage, or a work area. Doubling your home size for the price of a basement foundation is certainly a great deal... on the flip side however, if you are on a budget and do not require the added space, a basement may not be the most cost effective option for you. Some homeowners are in the mentality that a basement just means more space to clean and more room to store 'junk'.
4ft Frost Wall
Another option available to you as a new home owner is the frost wall, consisting of 4ft concrete walls, half the height of a basement. A frost wall will not allow you the adequate space for an additional living area. It will however allow you a bit of storage space, perhaps if you’re looking to store that kayak or outdoor items from the rain or snow. The floor is spread with gravel and vapour barrier, ensuring all the moisture is kept out. The space is most effective when heated as it keeps the ground temperature around the frost wall above freezing. As well, the crawlspace will provide you with easy access underneath your home, should you have to have some servicing done such as plumbing.
Concrete Strip Footings
The third option we talked about that you may be unfamiliar with is concrete strip footings. For someone on a budget who does not require a basement and your land is very level, this is certainly an option to consider! These footings are approximately 10 inches deep and 30 inches wide, and run the full width of your home. They are essentially three concrete fingers, spaced evenly under your home, with one in the front, one in the middle, and one in the back. Blocking (concrete blocks) is then placed along these concrete fingers (as per the engineered specifications) to provide the proper height and stability. Gravel is spread in amongst these footings to provide padding, and finally the perimeter is skirted or sided to add to roadside appeal. As mentioned, this option is perfect for someone on a budget; if later on you have saved and decide you would now like a basement, your home can be picked up and moved onto the new foundation, and the old foundation can now be used for a future garage. One note to mention is that as your footings are below the frostline, you may be susceptible to a bit of movement which could cause things like your doors to jam on occasion.
But what about concrete slabs? How come you didn’t mention them?
Well, slabs are not something that we necessarily recommend, as we have found over time these other methods are much more effective. With a concrete slab you would have to go down 4ft like you would a frost wall, but instead of just doing the perimeter, you have to do a complete over pour of the full area which is quite expensive. Any cracks or plumbing leaks in the slab that might occur can cause problems and are not easy to repair. Also, they are not as energy efficient as the warmth transferred through the floor to the ground requires more energy output through a thick slab than it would through the frost wall option.
But what if I was thinking about a split entry home or having my home built into a slope? How does the foundation work in these cases?
Well, that’s another great point! In that case, it would be a combination of some of these options. If your property is sloped, you may want to consider taking advantage of this and building your home into the slope. In this case, a portion of your home would be done with 8ft concrete walls and the other portion with a step down foundation. This will provide you with a beautiful walkout basement with lots of light. For a split entry, it would start with a 4ft foundation, and on top of that would be a 4ft pony (knee) wall. The pony wall is made of wood and carries the load of the home and transfers it to the foundation, allowing the opportunity to have larger windows (smaller windows are more feasible for concrete).
So what does all this mean? What is the best option for me?
You want to think about a few things in relation to your lifestyle. Do I need a lot of extra storage or living space? If so, you will want to look into the option of a basement to fill this need. Perhaps if your land is on a hill you can use that to your advantage! If you don’t like the idea of stairs and would like everything on one level, perhaps a frost wall will work better for you. Or if you are on a bit of a budget and like the flexibility of adding on in a few years time, you may want to explore the option of footings.
You may also want to think re-sale value when it comes to your home.
We know, you haven’t moved in yet and you’re already thinking re-sale value?! Try to remember, you aren’t just purchasing your home but also making an investment. Think about what you want and what fits your lifestyle, but also think about what the market trends are in your area.