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Regardless of the type of foundation you decide upon, you need to make sure that it's a good quality foundation. It isn't as simple as throwing up a few forms and then pouring cement to create a slab or walls. So what makes a "good" foundation?
Building Foundations and Their Features
To get a good foundation, you have to take several factors into consideration, including the frost line, the type of soil, the water table, site prep, and the quality of the backfill. And that's just at the house site. A good foundation will also have several specific features including steel reinforcements. Builders often use rebar to strengthen basement walls and to help keep it from cracking. The quality of the concrete and the method used to pour it also matter.
Additional features of a good basement include:
A slab foundation should have the same features of the slab in a basement, including the layers of compacted crushed stone, a vapor barrier, sand and insulation. The slab should be protected against frost heaves if you are using a slab foundation where you have a medium to high frost line. When the frost line is deep, a slab foundation is not recommended.
Newer Technology for Foundations
Newer technology, meaning technology that has been around for less than 50 or so years, includes using insulated concrete forms to build an insulated basement, precast foundations, and adding PEX tubing near the top of the foundation walls to heat the walls enough to repel moisture. The PEX tubing is routed through the boiler and is the same type of tubing that you find in heated floors or heated walkways.
You can also use self-leveling concrete. It contains a chemical in it that makes the concrete mix flow like water, but it retains the concrete's structural integrity. Usually, if the mix is too thin, the aggregate sinks to the bottom before the concrete can dry. With self-leveling concrete, the chemical keeps the aggregate from sinking. You can pour footers from one corner and the concrete will fill in the entire footer.
Builders also have fabric-formed footings they can use now. The footing forms are lightweight and conform to sites that have slopes or are otherwise uneven. The forms stay in place after the concrete is poured and act as an insulating layer.
Ask your builder about some of these newer technologies when building your home.