Basement: The basement foundation is an additional floor partially or completely below ground and built with poured concrete walls. It’s the deepest of the common foundation types and matches most or all of the floor space of the level above.
Basements have a lot of benefits, including adding more square feet at a low cost and serving as a shelter from severe weather. However, given that basements are below ground, they’re more prone to flooding. Therefore, basements might not be ideal if your area experiences frequent floods.
Crawl space: This is an enclosed area between the ground and the home’s first floor, which consists of short foundation walls that stand on footings. It provides limited access to things like plumbing, wiring, storage and other equipment.
This type of foundation is often used in colder climates. It’s less expensive than a full basement, because it requires less material and labor. However, it doesn’t provide much protection from inclement weather.
Pier and beam piling: This foundation uses piers that are set into the ground, with beams extending from pier to pier. Pier and beam, or pilings, are often seen in flood-prone areas and coastal towns, or on permafrost. This foundation, however, is not the right fit for areas prone to earthquakes or hurricane-strength winds.
Slab: The slab is a raised perimeter foundation that supports floors and load-bearing walls. A concrete slab is often used, which serves as the bottom floor of the home. These types of foundations work best in climates that don’t experience ground freezing and thawing, because this can lead to cracks in the slab and shifting of the foundation.
Even if you don’t know much about foundations, you likely realize that a cracked foundation is not a good thing. Cracks happen when moisture leaves the soil and returns unevenly, which can shift the foundation, causing it to crack. Cracks can lead to interior damage, plumbing issues and sticky doors and windows.