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Is Slab Construction Suitable for Colder Climates?

When you are building a foundation, there are several factors you need to keep your mind on, and the climate is one of them.

Homes in the U.S. usually sit on one of three types of foundations—basement, crawl space, and concrete slab. Each of them has its upsides and weaknesses, and the homeowner should choose the one that is most suitable for the area they live in. When constructing a home, several things need to be taken into consideration, one of which is the climate. Not all types of foundations are meant to last in colder climates, and not all of them are suited for high temperatures. The foundation needs to be strong and durable in order to provide the needed support for the floors, walls, and roof. Although in time every element of the house can and probably will be replaced, replacing the foundation is something not a lot of homeowners wish to do. That is why when the foundation is built, all the important factors need to be considered so the foundation can be constructed to last. 

That said, how do you know which foundation should you choose for your future home in Greenville, SC? Let’s take a look at the most common types of foundation, their capabilities to endure different climates, and see which one will work the best for you.  

cold climate

Slab Foundation 

The concrete slab should be built on a level surface, so before the construction begins, the soil needs to be properly graded. When the perimeter footings are dug, concrete is poured into the ground over the footings and framework. A lot of homeowners prefer this type of foundation because it is the most affordable and can be quickly built. It doesn’t involve a lot of excavation, and the water and drainage pipes can be installed right into the foundation.  

Of course, if something happens to the pipes and they need to be repaired or replaced, reaching them will be a whole new problem. Concrete slabs can be often found in the warmer parts of the country. They are great for preventing termite infestation and keeping the home safe from pests. They are not usually built in colder climates, due to the freezing of the ground. As the soil freezes and thaws it shifts, therefore impacting the stability of the house. However, if you have your heart set on the slab foundation, you can build it in Greenville, even though the winters are cold. How is that possible if slab foundations are impacted by the freezing of the ground?  

Since the 1990s, a type of foundation called the frost-protected shallow foundation (FPSF) has become somewhat popular. Until then, it was a rule to excavate below the frost line, which is why most foundations in colder climates are basements. However, with FPSF there is no need to do that. When it comes to this type of foundation, the slab is a bit thicker and its edges are covered in rigid foam expanded polystyrene or extruded polystyrene insulation. This extra layer of insulation directs the heat loss toward the foundation, which is why the soil underneath the foundation does not freeze, even during the winter. 

Basement Foundation 

A basement is another popular type of foundation and it can be found all over the country. However, it is most common in the northern parts since it provides protection against the elements and can be used as storage for heating appliances. A lot of homeowners opt for this type of foundation when building their homes since a basement can easily be transformed into an additional living space if needed. The possibilities are endless, and apart from adding square footage to your home, a basement can increase its market value as well.  

However, building a basement is also more expensive than constructing other types of foundation. An average basement can cost up to $30,000. The biggest part of the cost goes into excavation and grading.  While it is more expensive to invest in poured concrete, cheaper basements are made of concrete blocks. Naturally, if you wish to invest in waterproofing measures and keep your foundation safe from water damage, the total cost of a basement will increase. 

Crawl Space Foundation 

Crawl space foundations are much smaller than basements and people cannot stand in them. Instead, they have to crawl which is how this type of foundation got its name.  Crawl spaces are usually one to three feet in height, so they cannot be used as basements. The reason this type of foundation is popular is its ability to adjust to any kind of climate and terrain, but they work best in dry climates. Crawl space foundations are a better choice for slopes because they do not require so much excavation. The digging is done only for walls, not the entire slab. The walls stand on concrete footings and can be made of poured concrete, mortared concrete, or treated wood. Most of the time, homeowners use this space to store electrical and plumbing elements of the house, and in some cases even the heating and cooling appliances. 

The upside of the crawl space is that it is more affordable to build since it requires less excavation and fewer materials. However, unless properly waterproofed, crawl spaces can be prone to moisture which can cause rot and mold growth. Therefore, owners of homes with this type of foundation should invest in encapsulation, insulation, and a good dehumidifier. Constructing a crawl space for a typical home can range from $8,000 to $21,000. Of course, the size of the space, as well as chosen waterproofing measures, affect the cost. 

If you want to waterproof your foundation, contact the professionals in your area. Get in touch with our experts at Mount Valley Foundation Services and schedule a free basement waterproofing inspection and quote. Our team will assess the situation and find solutions to all your foundation waterproofing problems. 

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