Image of a recently poured foundation.

7 Types Of Foundations For Your Home And Their Uses

13-Minute Read
Published on July 29, 2022

Without a good foundation, your dream of homeownership could come crumbling down – literally. That’s why when it comes to constructing your home, the first and arguably most important step in the process is creating the house’s foundation.

7 Types Of Home Foundations infographic.

Read on to learn more about types of foundations, and how to spot and repair common foundation issues. Knowing about different types of foundations is important, whether you’re purchasing a new home or starting from the ground up. 

1. Basement Foundation 

A basement foundation is entirely below ground level, and it’s the deepest residential foundation. The space usually spans the length and width of your home, and is tall enough for most people to stand in.

You’ll often find basement foundations in areas with colder climates, like the Northeast or Midwest, as the foundation must be built below the frost line to avoid shifting.

Let’s take a look at the benefits and drawbacks of a basement foundation.


  • Acts as an additional living space: An added living space can increase your home value. The basement can be conditioned or unconditioned, depending on your budget.
  • Separate entrance: If your home is on a slope, you’ll most likely opt for a daylight basement instead of a full basement. A daylight basement is open to daylight on one side. With a daylight basement, you can put in an additional entrance to your home.



  • More susceptible to leaks: Because basements are underground, they are more prone to water damage and leaks. When building this type of foundation, it’s recommended to waterproof your basement or you may have to in the future. This can include installing a sump pump, applying a waterproof seal to the exterior walls and surrounding the exterior with gravel.

Most basements are built with poured concrete or cinder blocks. The footers are built first, then steel rods are placed to reinforce the walls, which are constructed next. Once the walls are dry, concrete is poured to create the floor.

Basement foundations are typically the most expensive house foundation types. According to HomeAdvisor, the average cost to build a basement for a new home is $24,000 – $44,500.1

2. Crawl Space Foundation  

A foundation built on footings and short walls – thus elevating the home off the ground – is known as a crawl space. As the name implies, there’s just enough space between the ground and floor of the home for someone to crawl through, usually about 1 to 4 feet.

Crawl space foundations are popular in regions with warmer climates, like the South. They are also found in areas where earthquakes are frequent due to their lifted base.

There are several benefits and drawbacks of a crawl space foundation.


  • Additional storage: Crawl space foundations can offer room to hold integral home systems such as the HVAC unit, electrical and plumbing. Since all of these systems are above ground, you have easier access should one of them need repair.
  • Protects against environmental hazards: The lifted base protects the home from potential flooding and other environmental perils.


  • Problematic without ventilation: Crawl spaces can be popular spots for rodents, termites, moisture and mold. To help combat these issues, make sure your crawl space has proper ventilation and insulation.
  • Requires maintenance: Although it’s a cheaper alternative to a basement foundation, crawl space foundations require frequent maintenance checks for things like leaks in plumbing systems and cracks in the walls.

A crawl space foundation is cheaper than a basement. On average, it costs $8,000 – $24,000 to build.1

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3. Concrete Slab Foundation  

True to its name, a slab foundation is made with one slab of concrete that’s 4 to 6 inches thick and can be reinforced with tension cables or rods. This type of home foundation is the most inexpensive, with an estimated average cost of $11,500 – $19,000 to build.1

Concrete slab foundations are not common in regions with cooler climates, as freezing temperatures can cause the concrete to crack and shift. With a slab foundation, it’s important to weigh the pros and cons listed below.


  • Solid build: Since there’s no additional space between the home and the ground, like in a crawl space, your utility bills will be lower.
  • Less time to build: A flat slab is poured as one single piece, which is quick to construct.
  • Insusceptible to infestation: This foundation type rarely experiences issues with rodents, insects, mold or mildew due to the thickness.


  • No storage space: Due to its thickness, there’s no additional space for storage or other uses like there is with a basement or crawl space.
  • Difficulty accessing pipes: The concrete is usually poured over plumbing, which can make a small leak a bigger issue.

With the pipes concealed, you won’t notice a problem until your water bills skyrocket. And when there is an issue with your pipes, you’ll need to break through the concrete to fix it.

4. Pier And Beam Foundation

Pier and beam foundations were popular in homes built prior to the 1960s, and they’re still popular in homes in the South and in areas where shifting soil is common. More specifically, you’ll see homes with pier and beam foundations in areas that are prone to major flooding and hurricane conditions.

If you’re building a home, we recommend hiring a structural engineer to oversee this project to ensure proper installation. This type of foundation consists of three main components:   

  • Piers: Concrete columns are reinforced with steel poles that anchor deep into the ground, similar to an ocean pier.
  • Grade beams: A beam, typically made of concrete, rests on the piers and runs from one pier to another, creating the perimeter of the home.
  • Joists: These are connected to the beams and the flooring of your home.


Keep reading for the benefits and drawbacks of a pier and beam foundation.


  • Access to home systems: Since a pier and beam foundation elevates the home, it provides a small space to crawl through and to store and access important home systems.


  • Potential flooring issues: Because of the design, homes with pier and beam foundations may experience sagging and bouncy floors.
  • Prone to infestation: They can experience similar issues to a crawl space foundation, including moisture, bugs and rodent problems.
  • Use of heavy equipment: Installing concrete piers requires heavy equipment, so be aware that it may require more time and higher labor expenses.

The average cost of a pier and beam foundation is $9,000 – $17,500.1

5. Wood Foundation 

Wood foundations were a popular choice during the 1960s and can still be built today using preservative- and pressure-treated wood. Wood foundation walls usually sit on a slab of concrete with a layer of gravel or crushed rock underneath.

Check out the pros and cons of pressure-treated wood foundations below.


  • Quicker to install: Wood foundations are easier to install and can be done when the wood frame of the house is constructed. It requires less build time than a concrete foundation.
  • Creates a warmer home: Using wood can help maintain the warmth of your home because wood is a better insulator, which helps lower your energy bills.
  • Renewable source: Since wood is a renewable material, it’s more eco-friendly than materials like concrete.


  • Higher expense: Wood foundations usually cost more than concrete slab and basement foundations.
  • Potential rot and termite damage: Improper installation can allow for water seepage and insect infestation.
  • Use of toxic materials: The chemicals used to treat the wood require special safety precautions when constructing. Without proper gear, treated wood can be toxic to workers.

Woods like cedar and redwood are commonly used, as they are impervious to insects.

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6. Stone Foundation   

Stone foundations found their popularity during the early 20th century. However, they aren’t as commonly seen in newer constructions. A stone foundation is made up of large stones and concrete that creates a solid base.

Below are the benefits and drawbacks of choosing a stone foundation for your home.


  • Offers a charming appeal: A stone foundation is great for adding a bit of rustic allure to your home.


  • Prone to cracking: Over time, stone foundations tend to be prone to chipping. Cracking is also common when not properly installed.
  • Requires labor: The stones are heavy and it can take time to build up enough for a stable structure.

Although stone foundations aren’t as popular compared to wood or concrete foundations, you can mirror the look by adding a stone facade to your foundation.

7. Below-Grade ICF Walls

Insulated concrete forms (ICFs) are concrete walls that are cast in place between two layers of insulation. This combination allows for an even stronger base than a poured concrete foundation.

Below are a few of the pros and cons of investing in below-grade ICF walls for your home’s foundation.


  • Greater insulation: ICF walls provide continuous insulation for your home with minimal thermal bridges.
  • Resistance to natural disasters: They are also durable against wind, fire and earthquakes due to their reinforced thickness.


  • Requires ideal curing conditions: For the concrete to properly set, the environment needs to be just right. If it’s not, the walls could end up weak and be more prone to cracking. In extremely cold temperatures, the ICFs should be covered with some form of insulated blankets on top. In hot climates, the top of the ICFs only require a plastic sheet.

An ICF foundation costs $7 per square foot on average.2

How Do I Make House Foundation Repairs?

Your foundation is one of the most important parts of your house. And while it’s strong enough to hold up the weight of your home, it’s not impervious to damage.

Below are some of the most common types of damage to a house foundation and how to go about getting them repaired.

Tips For Maintaining Foundation infographic.


Cracks in your foundation can be scary and, we’re not going to lie, could indicate a big problem. However, they can also stem from normal wear and tear and end up being harmless.

A good rule of thumb is if the crack is less than ⅛-inch wide, it shouldn’t be cause for alarm; however, it may be best to consult a professional.

Let’s take a closer look at the different types of foundation cracks, what causes them and how to repair them.

  • Vertical cracks: Vertical cracks go up and down the foundation wall. They’re usually caused by the soil around the footing compressing or washing away, which causes that part of the foundation to settle a little lower. While these cracks are common and do not necessarily indicate a major structural issue, they’re known to allow water in through the wall.

Fix: The most common fix for this type of crack is a urethane or epoxy injection, which provides a flexible seal. It’s best to hire a professional home builder or contractor to repair these cracks.

  • Horizontal cracks: Horizontal cracks are the most serious type of foundation crack, and they run sideways across the wall. These cracks indicate a bowing foundation, which can lead to structural failure and cause the house to collapse. If you have horizontal cracks in your foundation, it’s imperative to have a licensed structural engineer inspect the wall and create a plan to repair it.

Fix: Some techniques to repair horizontal cracks involve bracing the wall with steel beams or braces, pulling the wall back with exterior anchors or installing a carbon fiber sheet over the wall.

  • Stair step cracks: Stair step cracks are vertical and horizontal, and are typically caused by soil pressure or settlement. They occur most often in brick and concrete block walls, and usually show up in the mortar joints, where two blocks meet. If the stair step cracks followed by the mortar joints, that probably doesn’t indicate a bigger problem.

Fix: You can usually fix these cracks by repointing the mortar. However, if the stair step cracks are in the concrete block itself, that can be a larger issue. You’ll need to have a structural engineer take a look to diagnose the problem and figure out how to fix it.

  • Shrinkage cracks: These are hairline cracks that come from normal wear and tear or shrinkage of the concrete or mortar. They won’t change in size nor do they threaten the integrity of your foundation. You won’t need to worry about repairing these cracks, but you do need to keep an eye on them.


Leaking is common in basements since they are underground. Leaks can come from a few places. They can come in through a crack in your foundation, seep through porous cinder blocks or be pushed up from the ground through hydrostatic pressure.

Water can cause your soil to expand or erode, both of which can cause foundation cracks and even eventual failure. If you’re building your home, waterproof the exterior of your foundation as you build it. This will help prevent any water issues and can save you money in the long run.

If the home is already built, one of the best ways to prevent water issues is to install a French drain, fix the grading of your yard, extend your downspouts and figure out other ways to divert water from your home. You could also excavate around the perimeter of your home and waterproof it that way. However, this option will likely cost thousands of dollars.

Settling Or Sinking 

Some settling is common, but serious settling or even sinking can threaten the integrity of your foundation. A few signs your home is sinking or settling are cracks in walls or above door frames, uneven flooring and doors that stick. To fix this problem, you may need to install concrete underpinnings or concrete piers.

Termite Damage

Termite damage is most common in crawl spaces and pier and beam foundations since they provide space for these pests. While they can’t cause damage to concrete or cinder block foundations, termites can weaken wood support beams.

Signs of infestation include seeing flying termites or piles of wings, mud tunnels in your crawl space and honeycomb patterns in your wood. To get rid of a termite infestation, you’ll need to contact professional exterminators who can create a custom treatment plan for your home. Treatment may include laying bait traps, using insecticides and spraying a protective barrier around the area.

The Bottom Line: Invest In Your House Foundation

A house foundation may be expensive, but it’s the first step toward building the home of your dreams. If you want to avoid future problems with your home’s foundation, such as termite or water damage, it’s imperative that you research the type of foundation best suited for your location before moving forward with the home building process.

If you’re ready to lay your home’s foundation but not quite ready to pay for it, learn more about how construction loans can help finance your next home. While Quicken Loans® doesn’t offer construction loans, we can help refinance construction loans into regular mortgages through Rocket Mortgage®.




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