Do Your Homework: Know a Home’s Foundation Before Buying
The Big D is home to beautiful multi-million dollar mansions, quaint little bungalows, and everything in between. Just as styles of homes in Dallas vary widely, so can their foundations. It’s critical to distinguish between different types of home foundations so you can make an informed decision when purchasing your next house.
If you’re looking to buy a new home in Dallas, or you’ve ever just been super interested in home construction in the area, here’s a quick guide to understanding the various home foundation types found throughout Texas.
Poured Concrete Slab Foundations
Simple and cost-effective, this is a top choice of many builders because it’s quick. This method became popular as a result of the housing boom in America post-World War II and builders sought an efficient means to accommodate the demand. Poured concrete slab foundations are still commonly used today because of their overall versatility.
The process goes like this: before pouring the cement, topsoil is removed, and if well-drained conditions are not present, a layer of gravel is added to the lot. Also, to create a durable, lasting foundation, builders will reinforce the area with steel bars (also called “rebar’) and a welded wire mesh. Despite their best efforts, over time, slabs can buckle, shift, and crack, due to the ground conditions, extreme weather, or geological events.
Finally, before pouring the cement, electrical and plumbing systems are installed and encased in the concrete. If you’re planning on doing any renovations, this can create a problem, so when buying a home make sure the foundation type matches your future plans.
Pier and Beam Foundations
Before the 1960s, most homes possessed another type of foundation, pier and beam foundations (also called “post and beam foundations”). In this case, a home’s treated floor is raised about a foot-and-a-half off the ground, resting on a several concrete “piers” or blocks connected with pressure-treated wooden beams and wooden joists, creating a subfloor for the dwelling.
Similar to a poured concrete foundation, plumbing and electrical systems are underneath the home. However, due to the crawl space that results from this type of construction, if one of these systems should require attention, they are much more accessible to plumbers and electricians.
Deterioration is one of the most prevalent problems with pier and beam construction. Wood decomposition occurs over time, even with pressure-treated lumber. Replacements can be costly. The threat of vermin infestation is ever-present: termites, insects, rodents, and small animals frequently make their nests in crawl spaces. While rare in the Dallas/Ft. Worth area, freezing temperatures can affect exposed pipes, causing them to burst, leading to flooding.
This very old technique is very rarely used today. The foundation consists of framed lumber that is supported by many different types of piers at varying intervals. Most frame homes were built during times when building codes did not exist. Hence, homes right next to each other could be built in very different ways, with different underlying structures. You will find these homes mostly in historic areas and areas built before 1940.
Dallas Foundation Repair Experts
Whichever type of foundation supports your new home, problems can arise and must be addressed immediately to protect your investment. For a comprehensive, no-cost foundation evaluation, contact Align Foundation Repair and ensure your peace of mind. We specialize in pier and beam foundation repair, as well as all other foundation repair services in Dallas-Fort Worth.