The foundation of your home is its most important structural feature. Home foundations are often talked about as being one universal type. However, homeowners should understand that there are a variety of house foundations, and they all have different functions and uses. Knowing the right type of foundation and how it will impact the livability of your home is essential. Let’s take a look at 10 types of house foundations and their uses.

Factors to Consider When Choosing House Foundation

If you are building a home or completing a foundation replacement or remodel, you will need to understand that there are different factors involved when choosing a foundation. These factors range from things like the size of your home and the living space you are looking for to the climate of your area.


What are your plans for the space below your house? Are you looking for something like a crawl space foundation or a full basement that allows for storage and maybe even living space? Other foundations have no space at all beneath the home.

Home Size and Type

A 1,000sq ft story home will likely have a different foundation than a 4,000 sq ft two-story home. Certain types of homes and home sizes will require unique building solutions and a stronger or more robust foundation. You can also think about things like the total height of the house for those that live in areas that are flood zones or are trying to obtain a perfect view of the mountains from their home.


Climate can impact the functionality and strength of the foundation walls. In the middle of the country, where the climate stays relatively mild, there may not be nearly as much of a consideration here to worry about. However, in the northern states where winters are cold, expect a concrete slab foundation to experience cracking over time. Conversely, in the south, termites can eat away at a wood foundation.


Although it would be great if all home building lots were flat, this is not the case. When your building lot has a lot of slopes involved, there are some types of foundations that just won’t work. Between the soil conditions and the grade foundation, topography will play into this.

Soil and Moisture

Some homes have very sandy and dry soil, while others are almost built in mud. When foundations are built, the testing of the soil is very important foundation experts know that the moisture levels in the soil need to remain low enough to offer support and compaction. A perc test will be done on your soil to see if the foundation can stay dry.

10 House Foundation Types

There are ten main types of home foundations. Of course, individual companies will create these foundations using their own process and techniques, but the types remain relatively the same. Remember that in your area, there may be creating foundation types that are no longer available or won’t be structurally sound for the environment in which you live.

1. Basement Foundation

What It’s Best For: Creating Extra Living Space In The Home

Pricing: $25,000-$80,000

The full basement foundation is certainly one of the most expensive types of foundations that you can invest in. The pricing is considerably higher for basement foundations as you are adding in a considerable amount of both storage space and living space.

With a basement foundation, it is also the deepest of any of the other foundation types that you will find on this list. Many slab foundations are just at ground level and require less digging and grading. The basement foundation is typically at least seven feet below grade level.

Since the majority of the basement foundation is entirely under the ground, you will need to consider the soil and waterproofing factors to ensure the basement stays dry and comfortable. Although the basement foundation is a major investment, in many areas of the country, this is still the foundation of choice.

2. Poured Concrete Slab

What It’s Best For: Warmer Climates and Homeowners On A Budget

Pricing: $6,000-$15,000

The concrete slab foundation is a relatively simple foundation. This is a large poured area of concrete that is between four to eight inches thick. The thickness of the slab depends on the location and the size of the home being put on the slab.

One of the things that homeowners like best about the poured concrete slab is that it is lower in price than other home foundations. If you live in an area where there are cold winters, expect that your foundation repair will be endless. The concrete freezes and thaws and cracks and creates a mess for the homeowners.

Easy access to the bottom of the home is a bit of a problem with the poured concrete slab. You may see this type of foundation used less frequently overall, but it can be popular for small homes on a strict budget.

3. Crawl Space with Stem Walls

What It’s Best For: Variety of Climates, Easy Access To Plumbing and Electrical

Pricing: $7,000-$21,000

A crawl space foundation will be a few feet deep, not allowing for a full basement space or very much storage. However, the nice thing about crawl spaces is that they do allow for better access to some of the home’s pipes and electrical features, making repairs easier than a standard concrete slab foundation.

The crawl space is not heated, but it will allow for airflow to ensure that there is no moisture buildup in the area. Crawlspaces can work just fine if the ground freezes. Homeowners with a crawl space need to look out for animal infestation under the home.

Paying close attention to the crawl space is important to ensure the longevity of this home foundation.

4. Pier and Beam Foundation

What It’s Best For: Ability To Move The House Later On, Creation of Crawl Space

Pricing: $15,000-$30,000

The pier and beam foundation consists of beams or piers that help support the weight of the home. The piers are typically made of a brick or stone material, while the beams are often wood. The pier and beam foundations generally are about two feet off the ground, making it easier to install plumbing and electrical lines.

One of the major positives of a pier and beam foundation is the cost to repair. With the access to the beams and the pieces being a bit easier than other foundations, expect lower repair costs. The pier and beam foundation is also a smart choice for those looking to eventually move home.

As with any slightly raised homes, it’s important to look for problems with pests and insects that could come up under the home.

5. Wood Foundation

What It’s Best For: Energy Efficiency, Ease of Installation

Pricing: $8,000+

As building materials have progressed and building codes have become stricter, both renovations and new home builds have moved away from the wood foundation. Wood foundations use pressure-treated wood that sits on a concrete slab. The pressure-treated wood will help prevent things like mildew and insects, but it is certainly not entirely immune as other materials can be.

One of the positives of a wood foundation is that it can be energy efficient. For smaller square footage where keeping electrical costs lower is a significant concern, the wood foundation can sometimes be the best choice.

Of course, the water table is a major concern with this type of home foundation. In addition, while workers are building the home, the treated wood is toxic and can cause issues for some. Surprisingly to many, the wood foundation is also a bit more expensive than something like concrete blocks or concrete footings.

6. Stone Foundation

What It’s Best For: Provided A Unique and Charming Look in the Early 20th Century

Pricing: Typically Not Used Anymore, Repair costs range from $3,500-$10,000

Years ago, the stone foundation was one of the most popular types you could find. The idea behind stone foundations was not just that they looked great at the ground level but that the stones would last a long time and bind together to create stability.

The problem with this home design is that the mortar is not entirely waterproof. Therefore waterproofing or a vapor barrier is necessary to keep groundwater from running through into the home.

If the house is not built perfectly level or there are any shifts, the foundation will start to crack and need repair. Today the stone foundation is not used nearly as much because of the long-term costs to maintain and repair.

7. Concrete Masonry Units (CMU)

What It’s Best For: Stability and Longevity, Cold or Warm Climates

Pricing: $9,000+

A concrete masonry unit or CMU is different from poured concrete in that they are not going to be poured on the job site and are instead brought in and used to build up the foundation. The CMU has quite a bit of compression strength and is known to hold up well in a variety of climates and conditions.

Some homeowners find that labor costs are lower per square foot with a CMU construction because the foundation does not require concrete to be poured on site. Just like we saw with the stone foundation, water becomes an issue with the mortar, and a moisture barrier will need to be in place for this CMU construction to come together correctly.

To increase stability in a CMU foundation, you will see steel rods inserted between sections. In addition, a pattern of overlapping is used to improve the durability of the Concrete Masonry Units.

8. Precast Concrete Panel

What It’s Best For: Strength and Ensuring No Delays In Construction

Pricing: Around $3,000 for a 100 sq. ft. panel installed

Sometimes building conditions are difficult and require a certain type of foundation to help move through the construction process. With a precast concrete panel, there is no need to delay construction for things like freezing or wet weather. With the concrete panels already being produced before coming to the job, there are no holdups waiting for concrete to set.

One of the things that set the precast concrete panel apart is that it has concrete studs for load-bearing support as well as a concrete footing. The overall strength of these panels is quite impressive.

Some of the downsides include moisture problems, as well as any inconsistency in wall height during the build process.

9. Pre-Poured Concrete Foundation

What It’s Best For: Quick Construction and Strength

Pricing: $15,000+

For quick construction and a fairly water-tight solution, the pre-poured concrete foundation is a great choice. These come together rather quickly and can make for a more streamlined overall construction process. The pre-poured concrete walls are strong, but over time if the foundation was not done correctly, there could be issues with cracks and settling.

One of the major reasons that homeowners stay away from pre-poured concrete foundations is energy efficiency. Although you will have extra space in your home for things like a water heater and other features, it’s very hard to keep this space heated in the winter.

The rebar or steel rods installed in the pre-poured concrete foundation help ensure that the concrete piers are stable and that there are no weak spots that could cause issues long term.

10. Below-Grade ICF Walls

What It’s Best For: Fire, Earthquake, and Energy Efficiency

Pricing: Starts around $7 per square foot

As you likely noticed, many of the foundation types we have discussed have had energy efficiency issues. The below-grade ICF walls bring about more energy efficiency, and they still offer the strength and durability you find in concrete walls.

The ICF foundations have about 6 to 8 inches of reinforced concrete, in addition to the dry stacking blocks and the bracing. The below-grade ICF walls do need waterproofing and drainage pipes to ensure that water and moisture are not trapped. Homeowners enjoy that these homes with below-grade ICF walls seem to have good fire prevention and earthquake stability.

What is the Best Type of House Foundation?

The best house foundation will depend on where you live and the type of home you are building. The most popular type of home foundation is, by far, the concrete slab. This is so popular because of the pricing associated with the purchase and the fact that it is so economically friendly.

Many people like the pier foundation as it tends to have few long-term issues with water management and waterproofing. It makes sense to also consider the basement foundation because of the amount of storage space and living space that it provides. Basements can lead to issues with mold and mildew if not properly cared for, but prevention is key.

Which Foundation Type is the Cheapest?

The cheapest foundation type of the slab foundation, and it is why it has become the most popular. However, you must keep in mind that in colder climates where concrete can crack, the slab foundation is not used.

Editorial Contributors
Britt Olizarowicz

Britt Olizarowicz

Britt Olizarowicz is a former real estate agent and landscaping business owner. She has a wide range of experience across several industries and was also a professional golfer. With her experience in investing, renovating, and improving properties Britt loves to share in all of the latest and greatest technologies, systems, and strategies to keep your home and garden looking great.

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Lora Novak

Senior Editor

Lora Novak meticulously proofreads and edits all commercial content for Today’s Homeowner to guarantee that it contains the most up-to-date information. Lora brings over 12 years of writing, editing, and digital marketing expertise. She’s worked on thousands of articles related to heating, air conditioning, ventilation, roofing, plumbing, lawn/garden, pest control, insurance, and other general homeownership topics.

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Worker Installing Rebar for Foundation
© Nenov Brothers / Fotolia

The type of foundation supporting your home has a widespread effect on the building’s durability and on your comfort. Whether you’re planning to build your own home or you want to know more about the house you live in now, getting familiar with foundation design is the perfect place to start.

Three types of foundations are commonly used in modern residential construction:

  • Slab
  • Crawl space
  • Basement

The type that’s right for your home depends largely on the properties of your building site, such as the soil type, water table depth, and slope. Beyond this, each type of foundation has pros and cons in terms of affordability, maintenance, home comfort, and other factors.

Slab Foundation

Concrete Slab Foundation and Home Framing
© Lev / Fotolia

This is the simplest, most budget-friendly, and most common type of house foundation. This foundation is a slab of concrete around 6 to 8 inches thick poured directly onto a soil surface prepared with gravel to facilitate drainage. There are several ways to build a slab foundation.

  • Slab on grade – To construct this foundation, concrete is simply poured onto the prepared soil. It’s poured thicker at the edges to form a footing. Rebar is added for strength and wire mesh might be added to reduce risk of cracking.
  • T-shaped – This foundation consists of concrete footings below the frost line and walls on top of the footings reaching to the soil surface. The slab is poured on top of this supportive structure.
  • Frost-protected (FPSF) – This foundation contains rigid foam insulation to prevent the ground below from freezing, reducing the risk of cracks. It’s used only with buildings that will be heated in winter.

The house is built directly onto the foundation, eliminating the need for a flooring support system, which further cuts costs and speeds up construction.


No open space under the house means less risk of infestation by termites, mice, and other pests. Because slab foundations don’t rely on beams for support, they’re exceptionally sturdy. They require only minimal digging, so they’re perfect for rocky or heavy soils where digging a crawl space or basement would be impractical.


Water, natural gas, and drainage pipes are often embedded within the concrete, and when these pipes wear out and leak, the foundation will have to be opened so repairs can be made. Slab foundations are vulnerable to pressure caused by freezing and thawing ground, so they’re best used in warmer climates where the ground rarely freezes. Because they can’t protect the house from flood waters the way a crawl space or basement can, they’re less than ideal for flood-prone areas.

Crawl Space Foundation

Crawl Space Foundation Under Construction
Photo Credit: RBerteig

A crawl space foundation includes an open space of around 2 feet high under the house, which elevates the house off the ground. These are typically built using one of two methods:

  • Stem wall – A continuous masonry wall.
  • Pier-and-beam – Concrete footings in the ground that support wood piers and concrete beams that span between the piers.


A crawl space foundation is a good choice in an area with a high water table or tendency to flood. It protects the home from shifting soil during heavy rains and, with flood vents added, it will reduce the risk of flood water entering the house. The crawl space provides air circulation under the house, helping to keep your rooms cooler in summer. Pipes and other utility lines are often located here, so you can easily reach them for repairs or upgrades. You can also use the space for storage.


A crawl space must be properly insulated and maintained to prevent problems with moisture, mold, cold drafts, and pests. Depending on your climate and your home’s design, this could mean adding a vapor barrier and rigid foam insulation in addition to vents or completely encapsulating the space and sealing the vents, then installing a sump pump and dehumidifier.

Basement Foundation

New House Basement Construction
© Christian Delbert / Fotolia

A basement foundation is built by excavating down to around 8 feet, then constructing a floor and walls for the resulting space. First, concrete footings are poured to support the walls. Next, the walls, usually made of poured concrete, are erected. Finally the concrete slab floor is poured. The result is an additional room you can use for storage area or to extend your living space.


A basement is the perfect place to house appliances related to your utilities, such as your furnace and water heater. You’ll have easy access to these appliances as well as to the pipes and ducts in this space, making it easier to maintain them and make repairs. The basement also gives you a convenient place to put the washer and dryer to free up space in your main living area.

With a little creativity, it can be turned into a workshop for your hobbies, home theater or even a home bar and pool room. As an added benefit, the air space a basement creates under your home helps keep your rooms cooler in summer.


Once the basement is built, you’ll need to air seal and insulate it to prevent unwanted heat loss and gain. In flood-prone areas, you’ll need to install a sump pump to remove any flood water that enters the basement. Keeping your basement properly air sealed, dry, and clean also helps prevent pest infestations and mold.

If your house will be located on bedrock or limestone that’s close to the surface, digging a basement could be impractical if not impossible. Heavy or water-logged soils, such as clay and wetland soils, are also difficult and often impractical locations for a basement. In these areas, if you want your foundation off the ground, a crawl space is the better option.

Although the kind of land you’re building on is the biggest determining factor in what type of foundation will best suit your home, very often you’ll have some choice. If you do, consider how each type of foundation will affect the building’s longevity and maintenance needs, as well as your enjoyment of your home.

If your home has already been built, keep your foundation type in mind when you plan out your routine home maintenance tasks. For instance, slab foundations should be monitored for leaking water lines, while crawl spaces and basements should be regularly checked for moisture problems and pest infestations.

Editorial Contributors
Henry Parker

Henry Parker

Henry Parker is a home improvement enthusiast who loves to share his passion and expertise with others. He writes on a variety of topics, such as painting, flooring, windows, and lawn care, to help homeowners make informed decisions and achieve their desired results. Henry strives to write high quality guides and reviews that are easy to understand and practical to follow. Whether you are looking for the best electric riding lawn mower, the easiest way to remove paint from flooring, or the signs of a bad tile job, Henry has you covered with his insightful and honest articles. Henry lives in Florida with his wife and two kids, and enjoys spending his free time on DIY projects around the house. You can find some of his work on Today’s Homeowner, where he is a regular contributor.

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