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Foundation Options

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Basement Slab

The foundation is the part of the structure that contacts the earth. It must be capable of holding the structure, and prevent excessive settlement. The house structure is attached to the foundation. Foundations today are generally made of concrete, or CMU (cement masonry units or cement blocks). Almost all foundations are reinforced with steel bar called rebar.
In the past foundations were made of bricks, stone and wood. Recreational home built in the mountains or on the beach are often constructed on pier foundations. There are four popular types of foundations that are used: Basements, crawlspaces, Monolithic slab and stem wall slab.  Your choice of foundation will depend on climate, use, and budget and building traditions in your area.

Basements are most often built in cold weather climates such as the Northeast, Midwest and Rocky Mountains. The footings in these colder climates need to be below the frost line which is fairly deep in these areas. Basements provide the cheapest square footage in most instances.
The upfront cost of basements is high, but the cost of the square feet that is gained is comparatively inexpensive. Check your area for basements. If basements are popular in your area, not having one may make your home harder to sell. There are three types of basements standard, walkout and daylight. Standard basements are not accessable by the outside and don't have exposed basement walls. Daylight basements have one or more walls exposed, and are typically built on hillsides. Walkout basements have access via an exterior door and staircase to the outside.  The typical critical path schedule for basements is: Footings, foundation, sub-rough plumbing and heating, backfill, basement slab, framing.




Crawlspace is more popular in moderate climates such as the Pacific Northwest, the mid-Atlantic coast. The footings are placed below the frost line, and a stem wall is placed on top of the footing. The sub-floor structure is placed on top of the foundation. The typical critical path schedule for crawlspaces is: Footings, foundation, plumbing, backfill, framing and HVAC (note: subfloor plumbing and HVAC can be done after floor framing if necessary.)

Slabs are most common in warmer areas such as Florida, Arizona, California and Texas. Since there is often a shallow frost line, or no frost line at all the footings and slab can be poured right on top of the ground. The footings and slab can often be poured at the same time. When the footings and slab are poured together it is called a monolithic slab.
Slabs are the quickest and cheapest foundation because they require less labor, skill and materials cost. The typical critical path schedule for monopours: monolithic pour, sub-rough plumbing and heating, backfill (or bagging in some areas) pour slab and framing.Form

Stem Wall Slab

Where a slab is desired for cost savings or otherwise in a cold climate a stem wall/slab foundation is the choice. The footings and foundation are constructed like a crawlspace foundation. Fill is placed inside the foundation and is compacted. The slab is then poured. Sand bags are used ocassionally instead of fill. The typical critical path runs as follows: Footings, foundation, plumbing, HVAC backfill, pour slab and framing.

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