A foundation on a home is the basis of the entire structure. When you consider the word “foundation,” there are 2 primary definitions. The first being “the lowest load-bearing part of a building, typically below ground level,” and the second being “an underlying basis or principle.” When it comes to the foundation of your home, both apply. Just like a strong foundation can make a happy relationship, a strong foundation beneath your home will keep it standing strong for many years.
Many different factors go into building a strong foundation. We’ll lightly touch on a few of those things before discussing why they’re essential to your home and future.
Footings are a vital part of foundation construction. They are made of concrete and rebar reinforcement and exist to support the foundation and prevent settling. They’re made for the foundation to rest on and are especially important in poor soil conditions. In soft or inconsistent soil, the house built on the foundation can settle unevenly without proper footings, leading to significant damage as the house settles.
Choosing a builder with the proper knowledge and expertise to build footings the right size, shape, and material is crucial to having a structurally sound home. I take pride in being one of those builders where our clients can trust we have the tools and resources to create them a stunning home and one that will be there to support their growth in life. Millennium Plus Homes uses sulfate-resistant concrete on all of our footings as it is stronger, something we believe is fundamental.
Why Does Soil Make a Difference?
Soils can effectively make or break a construction project. Building on the wrong type of soil, or something unstable, can lead to cracked foundations. Soils rich in clay or silt will absorb water easily, causing it to expand as it becomes saturated. The expansion can put stress on the foundation and cause it to crack. Sandy soils are more predictable than clay or silt, as water passes through it rather than causing it to expand and contract. Loamy soils are stable, but they can erode easily. Testing your soil before building on it is crucial to ensure your foundation will withstand the elements.
Testing your soil can also identify the level of sulfates in your soil. Sulfates can cause significant deterioration of concrete building foundations, so using resistant materials and proper methods is crucial.
The T-Shaped Foundation
The foundation under your home will significantly impact the building’s overall durability and, subsequently, your comfort. 3 types of foundations are commonly used in residential construction; slab, crawl space, and basement. For this article’s purpose, we will discuss T-shaped foundations and why we use this type on our projects in Alberta.
T-shaped foundations are both the simplest and the most budget-friendly slab foundation type. There are a few different ways to craft a slab foundation:
- Slab on grade
- Frost-protected (FPSF)
At Millenium Plus Homes, we use T-shaped footings, as they’re a traditional method that’s commonly used in an area where the ground freezes. They’re built using footings added below the frost line with walls added on top. The footing is wider than the wall, giving the entire structure extra support at the base. It’s constructed in 3 parts:
- A T-shaped foundation is placed and allowed to cure.
- The walls are built.
- The non-structural slab is poured between the walls.
Concrete & Why the Type is Important
It’s important to note the difference between concrete and cement. Cement is a dry powder that works to bind items together, where concrete is a mix of cement, sand, and gravel.
Concrete, although it’s a commonly used material used for its strength and durability, needs to be handled and applied in a certain way to ensure it retains that strength. If concrete freezes before it cures, it can lose up to 50% of its compressive strength. Even if it’s allowed to warm again, the damage is already done. We avoid freezing concrete by never pouring when temperatures drop below -5°C and are not expected to for at least 7 days. Concrete needs to be protected from freezing temperatures for between 3 and 7 days after pouring, so we will pause construction if temperatures will get in the way of that.
MPa of Concrete
MPa is a term used to describe the megapascal strength of concrete, or how much pressure it can take before it cracks or breaks. The number after your MPa relates to the aggregate size within the concrete mix, for example, 10 for 10 millimetre stone.
We use 32 MPa type 50 concrete, even if not required for any concrete that is exposed to the elements, which is some of the strongest material available. It provides a strong footing for your home and is sulfate resistant.
So What Does This Mean For You?
Overall, the foundation of your home is the most important part of a structurally sound building. Cracked foundations can typically be repaired, but footings that fail or are done incorrectly can cause permanent, costly damage. To fix footings, a very involved excavation is required, which can cost upwards of $50,000. Cracked foundations may not be as expensive to fix, but they can seriously devalue your home and may cause resulting issues.
When you’re purchasing a home, you should be aware of and look for signs of damage to the foundation. Home inspections are typically only visual and will rarely find cracks hidden away beneath walls or floors, so be sure to ask or have a specialist come in to evaluate the home’s foundation. Spotting foundation problems may end up saving you a lot of money in the long run. If you’re building a home, it’s best to trust a top-rated builder that focuses on the important things. If you’re interested in the home of your dreams, trust Millenium Plus Homes to give you not only a gorgeous new home but one that will keep you comfortable as long as you need it.