What You Need To Know About Foundations
When you look at your house, do you ever wonder how it was built? How are the walls and ceiling held up together?
A simple look at your house could lead you to several questions that resulted from your curiosity as to how houses are built.
Houses Built According To Building Code
In the United States, more than 100 million housing units are built, the majority of which are single family dwelling units or in laymen’s terms, houses. The majority of these American homes are constructed using standardized building practices, from the foundations up to the interior finishing.
The United States is fortunate to have a set of uniform building codes applicable to all the states. Hence, the consistency on having homes that comply with the stipulations of the building code.
Perhaps considered as the most critically important stage of house construction is when the foundations of the house are laid. With a properly-built foundation, it more than just holds the structure above the ground. The foundation also:
- Keeps out moisture
- Resists earth movement
- Insulates against the cold
- It determines how long a house would last standing safely on the site
Good Foundation Design And More
With a poorly-designed and built foundation, any structure is bound to “sink”. Good foundation means footings made of poured concrete and steel-reinforced foundation walls. Buildings or houses that have lasted for centuries are those built with laboriously assembled foundations of mortar, brick and stone.
Buildings or houses constructed with even the most modern and durable fastening materials such as stainless steel bolts, and using the latest construction methods will not be spared from collapsing if the foundation designs are weak to begin with.
The house’s foundation takes all of the load from the roof to the walls to the floors, and transfers them into the soil where the house stands. Hence, it is important that builders pay attention when laying the foundations of the structure.
A lapse in the proper laying procedures of the foundation could result in a failure of the building or structure shortly after it has been constructed. Every detail – soil conditions, backfill quality, water tables, properly compacted base, properly set up formwork, and concrete free of voids – contributes to having a solid foundation for your house.
The type of foundation your builder designs for your house will depend a lot upon your particular situation. Basically, there are three types of foundations:
If you are from the North, your house must have been built with a basement. A basement may be thought of as an extruded crawl space type of foundation. In the East and other older areas, basements are popular because of the additional space it provides the family with. A basement is also one of the most cost-effective ways of expanding your house, as it can be easily converted to become a living space.
Crawl Space Foundations
A crawl space or raised foundation is common in houses found in the middle part of the country where the frost lines are not as deep. A crawl space foundation is built above the ground, with just enough space allowed for crawling underneath. The crawl space foundation should have at least 2 feet of clearance from the ground so that an average person can crawl in to take care of the house’s mechanical systems.
Houses in the South are most likely built with a slab foundation. This is usually a flat concrete pad poured straight onto the ground. This foundation type requires little preparation on the site and little formwork for the concrete. Slab foundations are very efficient and cost-effective. In this particular area, the soil conditions may not allow basement type of foundations. Slab foundations uses concrete instead of wood to provide support to the weight of the structure.
Reasons For Foundation Failure
Designing a good foundation is not what makes a house or structure last for many, many years. Your house may have a well-designed foundation but could still fail due to the following:
Foundations may fill if backfill used is soil loaded with clay or organic matter. In this case, soil holds water like a sponge and that increases the risk of having cracks in the foundation when the soil expands and freezes.
Concrete needs approximately four weeks to cure to full strength of 3,000 psi. If concrete is not allowed to cure slowly to reach proper strength, it could cause the foundation to fail.
Crushed stones that have not been adequately compacted before the slab is poured are likely to settle or crack, causing the foundation to fail.
Concrete Pouring Interrupted
Concrete forms should be filled with concrete in one pass. Any interruption in concrete pouring can result in a “cold joint” between the fresh concrete and the previously poured part, creating the likelihood of cracking and leaking.