Building your home on a solid foundation is probably the single most important part of the construction process. Everyone knows that. What is confusing to a lot of folks, however, is the options that are available and what is the best foundation type for their specific situation. At Black Creek, we offer several different foundation options. Each of the options below, include some sort of drainage system to ensure a dry basement, and, more importantly, to ensure that water does not get under your foundation and freeze causing your house to shift or move. Below, we will offer some of the pros and cons of each foundation type to help you decide what is best for you. As always, one of us here at Black Creek would love to discuss these options with you and answer any questions you may have.
Concrete Block Foundations
- Most economical foundation option
- Prone to cracking, especially at mortar joints. While this is normally nothing to worry about structurally, it can allow outside moisture to enter the foundation
- More difficult to waterproof than other foundations
- Not insulated, requires extra time and materials to insulate
Concrete block foundations have been around since the 1920’s and are a more economical choice for a foundation. First, a concrete footer is poured and then the concrete blocks are stacked in courses with mortar between each block, holding them in place. A typical block foundation is 13 courses high, or approximately 100” from the basement floor to ceiling. After the blocks are all laid, the hollow cores are filled with rebar and concrete every 4 feet to reinforce the foundation wall. The exterior is then coated with a waterproofing compound to help seal the foundation and prevent ground water from entering the basement.
- Quick and easy foundation is installed in a matter of hours
- Comes with insulation already installed
- Very convenient to finish interior
- Comes with manufacturer’s warranty
- More expensive than concrete block foundation
Designed in 1981, Superior Walls have changed the way foundations are being installed here in North-Central PA and around the country. Superior Walls are a precast, concrete foundation wall that is manufactured off-site, delivered to the job, and the sections are then set with a crane and joints are sealed and bolted together. Unlike other foundation types, Superior Walls sit on a footer of crushed gravel, instead of a concrete footer. They also come insulated and ready to install the electrical wiring and plumbing. Drywall or paneling can also be installed directly to the built in studs, making this a very convenient option if you plan to finish your basement.
(ICF) - Insulated Concrete Form Foundation
- The ultimate house foundation, incredibly energy efficient
- Easy to waterproof, everyone loves a warm, dry basement
- Very strong, 6” solid concrete wall with rebar reinforcement
- More expensive than other types of foundations
Introduced into the market in 2001, NUDURA has become the leading manufacturer of Insulated Concrete Forms (ICF). ICF’s are basically a concrete form built with two layers of high density foam held together by an inner web of connectors that are made to hold and receive vertical and horizontal re-bar. These forms are stacked (similar to legos) to the exact foundation design, inserting re-bar throughout the wall as it is built. Once the walls are built, the ICF is then filled with concrete, creating a seamless concrete foundation that is fully insulated. A water-proofing membrane is installed on any of the ICF that is below grade, and the part of the foundation that is above grade is finished with a stucco finish. ICF foundations are built on a Form-a-Drain concrete footer system that keeps water away from the foundation and is truly the best footer forming system on the market today. Not only can you build your basement with the NUDURA ICF blocks, but you can build your entire first and second floor exterior walls as well. This gives you a insulation and thermal mass like no other foundation or construction method.
ICF= Warmer house in the winter and cooler house in the summer!
No Basement Option
Another option that is growing in popularity is to build your home without a basement or crawlspace. Concrete floors with radiant heat will give you an unbelievably energy efficient home. We do recommend using Nudura Hydrofoam for your radiant heating system. See the diagram and read more about Hydrofoam on their site.