How To Control Foundation Costs
By Kenny Grono, Originally Published in Houseplans.com
They saved money by installing a slab foundation.
In the previous post I
discussed how to use smart planning to save costs before you start building by
considering the site you build on. Once you've picked the site and chosen a
house that is suited to that site, it's time to begin construction.
The foundation is the
first part of the home to be built. By thinking about your needs and the
particulars of your site you can keep from spending unnecessarily on one of the
critical but less than glamorous parts of your home.
These days most
foundations are constructed from poured concrete or concrete block. The houses
that sit on top of them can vary greatly in style, but the foundations will
look very similar from house to house. The purpose of the foundation is to
provide a stable base so that the house does not shift or settle over time. To
perform this function, the concrete must be buried underground below the point
underground that freezes in the winter. Freezing earth can cause foundations to
move. In most of the country, this point is three feet or less underground. So
to have a stable and structurally sound foundation, you often don't need to dig
down very far. Check with local professionals and building inspectors to find
out the code in your area.
So what does that have
to do with saving money? Well, excavating dirt is expensive, so your thinking
on what goes on under your home should center on how much dirt you need to
remove from the site. The options stated simply are slab-on-grade, crawl space,
full basement, or some combination of the three. The amount of earth excavated
is least for slabs, up to most for full basements. A basement offers additional
storage and a place to house the mechanicals, but it is not a must have. Think
about your storage needs and consider stepping the foundation up from a full
basement in one part of the house to a slab elsewhere.
No matter what type of
foundation you select, think about how water will be managed. Once you go
underground, dealing with water is inevitable, and if you want to keep termites
and mold away you need to keep the water away from your foundation. Consult
your builder about the best way to do this in your region and on your site, but
common practices are waterproofing the exterior of the foundation and
installing drainage at the level of the footer.
Though it will cost you
more up front, insulating your foundation is a good way to save money over the
long term. Rigid foam insulation is used to keep heat from being lost through