Open Accessibility Menu

The Anatomy of a Build Site: Understanding the First Steps

Your home’s foundation determines how well it stands up to frost, and 99% of the time, we can guess which type of foundation your home uses simply by knowing the year in which it was built and your location. Here are the three major types of foundations used across the United States:

1. Crawl Space

Crawl spaceCrawl space foundations are typically found in mid-latitude states that have some frost during the winter. After excavation, concrete footings are poured around the home’s perimeter, and cinder block walls raise the first story several feet above the ground. Wooden beams that sit atop the foundation walls support the floor.

You can easily access your home’s plumbing and wiring without disturbing the foundation, which makes home renovations more affordable. Unfortunately, your floor joists are open to moisture and insects, and although most builders use pressure-treated lumber, you might have to replace joists after a few decades.

2. Basement

BasementDepending on your point of view, basements are either wonderful or aggravating. A basement increases your home’s living area and storage. However, basements require proper drainage systems to divert water away from your home, and if you’re in a flood zone, you could end up underwater anyway.

footings are located deep underground, and the foundation walls extend from the footings up to the first story. While older homes occasionally feature gravel basements, newer homes use concrete slabs over several inches of gravel.

3. Slab Foundations

T-Shaped footingsBasements and slab foundations are similar because both use concrete slabs and footings, but when contractors talk about slab foundations, they typically mean concrete slabs poured directly on the ground instead of buried 10 feet down.

T-Shaped Footings
T-shaped footings are more expensive than the other two types of slab foundations, but they provide the best protection against frost. The footings feature a wide base for additional support, and they need to completely cure before the foundation walls are set. Once the walls are in place, a builder will pour the slab over gravel. Because this process is split up into three steps, it usually takes an additional week to complete.


Frost protectedInstead of footings, a slab-on-grade foundation is a single slab that’s poured all at once. It’s cheaper and faster than other methods and works well in southern states that rarely drop below freezing. The slab’s perimeter is poured thicker to effectively act as a footing.

Virtually identical to a slab-on-grade foundation installation, a frost-protected foundation is poured all at once and features a thick perimeter. However, the gravel layer extends a few inches past the slab, and two pieces of foam insulation protect the foundation against frost.

Looking to build a new home or repair a cracked slab? Let Ram Jack of Indiana take care of all your foundation needs in Carmel, IN! Give us a call or visit our website to request a free quote today.