Homeowners November 18, 2021

A Look into Different Home Foundations

When it comes to your home, foundation issues can be some of the most problematic and expensive to repair. Unfortunately, most homeowners aren’t as familiar as they should be with their home’s foundation and the damages that can occur.

Below, we’ll discuss the different types of foundations found in Virginia and how to spot common issues on each. We’ll also discuss best practices for what to do if foundation repair in Virginia is needed.

Blue house entrance with fountain and nice patio.

Common Foundation Types in Virginia

A few foundation styles are found throughout Virginia, with each being more prevalent in certain areas within the state. Below are the most common foundation types in Virginia and how to spot issues on each.

Slab Foundations

Slab foundations are the simplest type of foundation. They consist of a single concrete slab poured directly onto the prepared soil. They don’t provide any under-home space for storage or utilities.

Slab foundations are most common in Eastern Virginia, particularly along the coast. This is primarily because the water table is very shallow in these areas and would present a significant flooding problem for basements and crawlspaces. Slab foundations are usually the best for limiting the adverse effects of the shallow groundwater, floodwater, and abundant rainfall in Virginia.

How to Spot Issues on Slab Foundations

The most common type of damage on slab foundations is cracking. However, most gaps that develop on the slab’s surface will be covered by your home and won’t be visible.

The easiest way to find damages on your slab is to head outside and inspect the visible strip of concrete along the base of your home. Look for cracks, crumbling, and any signs of your foundation sinking into the ground.

Additionally, it’s possible to find symptoms of slab foundation damage inside your home, as the entire structure depends on the slab for a level and sturdy base. You might notice cracks in the sheetrock around wall openings, doors and windows that are difficult to open or close, and uneven or sloping flooring.

What to Do If Your Slab Foundation Needs Repair

Most cracks that you will find on slab foundations aren’t indicative of structural instability and more likely just need to be sealed to prevent water intrusion. If you find a crack that is more than ⅛” wide or unlevel from side to side, consider calling in a professional for an inspection.

Structural cracks in slabs are possible, and they are generally treated using a technique called piering. This process involves drilling through the slab and installing supportive piers beneath it to prevent further movement. In Virginia, you can expect this to cost between $5,000 and $15,000.

Pier and Beam Foundations

Pier and beam foundations usually consist of concrete piers set deep into the Earth, with the beams that support your home laying on top of these piers. The under-home area provided by this type of foundation can be used for storage or utilities. However, the space is usually open to the outside and may not be ideal for these purposes.

Pier and beam foundations are another popular choice for homes near the coast of Virginia, as floodwaters can move freely beneath the house without causing significant damage.

How to Spot Issues on Pier and Beam Foundations

Problems with pier and beam foundations are easier to find than those on slabs, as you will have easy access to the under-home area. You can head beneath your home to look for issues, the most common of which include mold growth, increased humidity, musty odors, pooling water, and signs of pest infestation.

You may notice symptoms of humidity accumulation inside your home as well. Keep an eye out for mold growth inside, uneven flooring, and unusually hot or cold indoor temperatures.

What to Do If Your Pier and Beam Foundation Needs Repair

Pier and beam foundation repair can range quite a bit in price in Virginia. Relatively minor issues like sealing the under-home area can cost as little as a few thousand dollars. Structural damage may involve jacking up the house and replacing the piers or beams on which your home sits. This process can easily reach over $10,000.

Crawlspace & Basement Foundations

Crawlspace and basement foundations are very similar in that they include an enclosed area under your home. Most use a concrete slab as the floor and concrete block or solid concrete for the walls. Crawlspaces offer three to four feet of clearance beneath your home for storage and utilities. Basements typically provide seven to ten feet of clearance and can either be finished or unfinished for storage or living space.