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Getting to know your home, part 3:

Tyler Merson
Tyler Merson January 19th, 2022

This is the last of my three-part series on getting to know your home. As with the kind of roof you have, you should know what type of foundation your home is sitting on. The simplest type of foundation is a post and pier foundation, where the house is supported by a number of stone feet (piers) that rest directly on the ground. A similar design called a stem wall foundation where the house sits on a short wall around the perimeter of the house with a few piers in the middle like this:

Then there are slab foundations where the house sits on a concrete slab poured directly on the ground. What all three of these share is that there is no basement.

While water doesn’t usually enter houses with these types of foundations from the ground, too much moisture in the ground can destabilize the foundation, rot the floor and wall framing, or promote the growth of mold underneath the house.

closeup of a rock formation foundation of a house madison nj

Excess moisture in the ground can be remedied with below-ground drainage techniques. Excess dampness under the house can be reduced with better drainage and ventilation. If you suspect either is an issue, get it looked at by an experienced builder sooner rather than later. Often simple mitigation techniques can prevent the need for costly repairs.

Houses with basements have a foundation wall of block or poured concrete that rests on piers, usually with a poured concrete slab floor. If there is excessive moisture in the ground, it can enter the basement, causing flooding, mold, or damage to the foundation walls. If the basement is finished, this can be hard to spot since the foundation walls are covered. But if you notice water on the floor, mold appearing on the walls, or an intense musty odor, have the situation looked at.

The perfect spot for a house would be on top of a small rise with the ground sloping away on all four sides. Where this isn’t the case, you want to provide a path for the water to go around and away from the house. This can be done with surface landscaping and below-ground drainage techniques. If there is already evidence of water damage to the foundation, it’s best to repair that first, but getting water away from the house is always money well spent.

In my next post, I’m going to talk about insulation and keeping your home warm through the winter and cool through the summer.