Concrete foundation, in comparison to other forms of construction, is considered as one of the strongest legacies ever created by man. Just think about the magnitude of towering skyscrapers and buildings with concrete foundations. Foundation, as mentioned, is the third leg of any building, transferring the weight from the ground to whatever structure sits on top of it. So what are home foundations made of?
A concrete foundation, as previously mentioned, is the strongest due to its weight bearing capabilities, being able to transfer the weight of the surrounding soil to those holding the foundation’s load. However, the question that follows this is – what are footings? Footings are the portions of a foundation that allow water or air to drain into the basement of the house, or other areas in a house. With all the additional footings and foundations present nowadays, the importance of footings are no doubt more than the concrete foundation.
Aside from the actual load carrying capacity of the foundation itself, it is also important to consider the type of footing used for a particular structure, whether a house has a basement or an attic. It is a well-known fact that there are different types of foundations depending on the location of the house and the soil beneath it. The type of footing that a house has may determine the degree of safety and durability of the foundation; thus, for instance, a basement house normally uses a layer of clay or soil, while an attic uses different kinds of fill materials than the latter.
When a house has an elevated portion such as a breezeway, a part of it will always be placed on top of the area where the road or curb begins, known as the roadway; while a portion of it will begin under the ground, known as a cellar, or base. Another factor to consider when determining the type of foundation to use is the height of the building. A concrete block foundation, for instance, can support a much higher weight compared to a concrete slab. You also have to look at the site’s drainage. You wouldn’t want your new roof to collapse just because your soil drainage is not sufficient for the heavy amount of snow that accumulation would cause. And if you are planning to build in an area with poor soil drainage, then using a concrete block foundation is a good idea.
Another factor to consider is the location of the house. If the structure will be located below the grade of the soil, then you don’t have much of an option but to dig a hole and place the footing in it. The foundation of a house should be laid on top of proper drainage in order to be sound and durable. But if you are putting the foundation on a slope, then the depth of the excavated hole would determine how deep the concrete foundations should be. The usual recommendation is for the digging to be no more than six inches deep for each floor level.
Lastly, you also need to take into consideration how long the ground freezes every year. This is a major factor affecting most homes, especially those located below the frost line. A concrete foundation that is built too shallow during the winter may crack during the thaw and break, causing the whole house to sink into the ground. On the other hand, a house that is built too deep during the winter will overheat and freeze again in the coming spring, leading to further structural damage. Most homes are built at this depth, which helps keep them cool during the summer. But if you live in a region where the ground freezes up even in the winter, you might want to think twice about the depth of your foundation.