The two most common types of building foundations in north Texas and southern Oklahoma are pier & beam foundations and slab foundations (also known as "slab on grade" foundations). As a rule of thumb, most foundations for homes built during the 60's and before are pier and beam while those built later are slab foundations. So, why the change in foundation types, how exactly is each type of foundation constructed, and what are the pros and cons of each? We'll cover each question over the next several blog posts and, as always, you can ask us your questions about foundation construction, repair, and maintenance and we'll give you the answers.
Pier and Beam Foundations
Pier and beam foundations (sometimes called post and beam foundations) have a crawl space (typically at least 18 inches) between the home and the ground. The base of the building is uses a series of beams supported above the ground via piers. This type of foundation takes longer to construct than a slab foundation, but allows easier access to heating and plumbing utilities. (With a slab foundation, it may be necessary to break through the concrete slab foundation to service or repair plumbing and such.)
Since the piers separate the structure from the ground, the foundation is less susceptible (as compared to slab foundations) to damage from the ground shifting. When ground shifting occurs and the foundation needs adjusting, the piers are more easily adjusted than is a slab foundation.
The advantages of a pier and beam foundation are:
- Provides easy access to service plumbing, electrical and other issues under the house.
- In many cases, pier and beam foundation problems can be less expensive to fix than problems with slab foundations.
- Some remodeling projects and home additions are more easily accomplished with pier and beam homes than with slab foundations.
- Since the structure isn't resting directly on the ground and air is a natural insulator, the temperature within the structure may take less energy to maintain. That is, your home isn't sitting directly on the cold hard ground during the winter and, thus, your heating bills can be less.
- Many people feel that floors supported by a pier and beam foundation have a bit more give and are therefore more comfortable. This is not to say the floor rebounds like a trampoline as you walk across it, but there is a difference according to many homeowners.
The disadvantages of a pier and beam foundation include the following:
- Pier and beam foundations take longer to construct than slab foundations. This increases the cost of the home or other structure.
- Floors supported by pier and beam foundations may creak and move.
- Broken vent screens and insufficient other barriers may allow bugs and rodents to get under the structure.
- Pier and beam foundations have to be vented properly to reduce moisture. Sufficiently high moisture levels can lead to mold, rotting wood, musty smells.
In our next post, we'll discuss slab foundations.
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