Custom Housing Foundation Guide

Are you considering building a custom home? When working with custom home builders, you should consider several factors. These factors that affect foundations relate to design, choice, and various other variables.

Choosing the type of foundation for a home is a vital decision, and it can influence the longevity of your custom home. A strong foundation is essential when designing and building custom homes that last. You must understand the different custom foundations you can choose.

This article will enlighten you about custom home foundations and teach you how to choose the most viable foundation for your home. Keep reading to know all there is to it.

Why Do Houses Need Foundation?

People often assume that the roof is the most vital part of their home, and this is true, but the foundation is even more essential. The roof protects you from weather and other elements but needs the foundation to stay safe.

The foundation of a house supports the house and holds the weight. If the foundation is not solid, your home might experience lots of damage. You also need to ensure the foundation of your house is right. It is usually not easy to fix once you build your home. So, ensuring it meets industry standards at the beginning is essential.

Here are reasons your house needs a foundation:

Supports the House

The primary purpose of a foundation is to support your house. Your house will sink into the ground without foundation due to the usual earth movements. Without a unified foundation, it will result in cracks and damage to walls and ceilings. A good foundation can support a house even during an earthquake.

Still, a good foundation is beyond digging the ground. Considering soil conditions and geology, you must build a solid structure to the site well. It also needs to be set well to hold the house when the soul underneath changes.

Resists Movement

Natural factors are always in place. The moisture soil levels change often. Also, fluctuations in temperature affect the condition of the soil. Tectonic plates can shift, and alterations I’m water tables can also occur. These factors will affect your house if it doesn’t sit on a foundation.

A good foundation will resist any movement. It can alter your house, pushing the structure’s load to the underlying soil so there will be no excess movement.


Your house also needs a foundation for insulation purposes. You need your place to stay warm in cold climates and vice-versa. A basement with good insulation will save you lots of money on heating bills. Insulation varies according to environment and region. You need to consider the weather conditions when building your custom home.

Prevents Moisture

Moisture can damage the home fast, and it can compromise the structure of your house by seeping into it and causing it to become weak. When it rains or snows, water saturates the soil around your home.

The roots of plants and trees can distribute water to the soil of your house, resulting in the ground expanding and shifting. A good foundation will keep the moisture out irrespective of weather conditions. You can further protect the foundation by damp proofing. Preventing humidity from penetrating your foundation will keep any toxic mold and damage off.

Prevents Filtration of Insects

Insects, bugs, and critters live under the soil. A strong foundation will prevent these insects from getting into the house and separate the wood from the termites that can eat it up. Without a good foundation, your home will be prone to insects and damage from critters.

You must pull a building permit before constructing your foundation.

How do you Pull a Building Permit?

Map out a project plan

You will need an engineer or architect to help you plan your custom home. Project planning acquaints you with the techniques that the building plan will use. It will also help you avoid risks and problems from natural hazards.

Meet a local code official

You should discuss your plan with a local code official before submitting applications. It will help you figure out the extra documents you need to avoid potential issues. You will also understand the requirements of the local law better.

Submit your application

The essential elements of your application involve:

  • Application form
  • Application fee
  • Project Plan


You may also need the following:

  • Maps
  • Photos
  • Construction plans
  • Soil Testing
  • Engineering designs
  • Energy calculations

All these factors will affect the application fee.

Then the appropriate official will determine if your housing project meets specific requirements. If it does, the city planner will issue your permit. The official may suggest what you need to improve if it doesn’t.

You can begin construction after the issuance of the permit. You will need to undergo a building inspection. The inspection aims to make sure the structure is by:

  • Permit
  • Building Codes

The number of inspections may vary. Your custom home might need up to five checks, depending on size.

Preparation Step Before Starting the Foundation

Foundations are generally of two types:

  • Deep Foundation
  • Shallow Foundation

A shallow foundation is suitable for up to 1.5m in depth. Deep foundations go beyond that, extending up to hard strata far below the ground’s surface.

A shallow foundation is suitable for a more horizontal than a vertical house. A deep foundation is best for high-rise buildings. A builder might suggest a deep foundation if you intend to extend a building’s size upright.

Preparing the Land

The first crew prepares the land or site. The preparation crew is often the same as the foundation crew, but they. And also be different.

Foundations are either a basement, crawlspace, or concrete slab. The crew in charge of site preparation works on-site with a bulldozer or backhoe (sometimes both). Their job is to clear the land of debris, rocks, plants, and trees. They also level the site and dig for the foundation.

What are the preparation steps before laying a housing foundation?

Surveying and Evaluation

Construction on any lot can be an expensive commitment. As a result, proper surveillance and evaluation are essential. They will prevent unnecessary costs and processes you might incur in the future.

You should also understand the history and environment of the construction site. A qualified surveyor or site elevator will help define what you can build on the land. It is best if you have pulled your permit, and it will help you navigate the construction essentials.


It is vital to have ready a clear plan before you begin the preparation process. Research the land and determine what you want to keep and what you want to get rid of that may be an obstacle to your plans. Do you want to keep any trees? You can hire a land preparation contractor to help you navigate this process well. If you plan to do this yourself, you need to be careful.

Creating a waterproof plan won’t be easy, but a good one will save construction trouble. You can use the information you gather from your research to know how to proceed. Be sure you take every factor into account.

Land Design

You might need to work with a team of expert architects, contractors, engineers, and designers. While it may seem quite expensive, it is vital, and most cities need it. It will also help you make progress faster because they will be making considerations from a professional stance.

All these may include:

  • If you need to plant trees before starting construction
  • If you need to dig a well
  • How will your house connect to the utility
  • If you are going to deal with any problems about exposure to sun and wind


Land Accessibility and Usability

It is also another vital step in the preparation process. You must check to ensure that the land has power, water, gas, and sewer access.

It is vital to confirm access to these utilities before construction begins. If there is access to water, you will need to find a way of connecting to the waterline.

The presence or absence of utilities can affect your construction plan. So finding these details early on is crucial.

Foundation Layout

Every foundation has a layout drawing. The structural designer does the design, and the architect approves it. The contractor has to follow this layout drawing for excavation. Install the foundation by following the layout plan and on-site marking. Then the architect re-checks the dimensions.

Foundation marking is vital. It is necessary to cross-check so that the architect can rectify any error on time.


Excavation begins once the architect and contractor have approved the layout. Soil excavation should not exceed the appropriate depth, and the architect specifies this depth in the drawing.

If the depth of the custom house foundation is not specified, the worker should excavate up to hard strata. As the excavation is in progress, ensure enough support, so the soil does not collapse.


If the construction of the custom house happens in a low-lying area, it may need filling with soil. Do the ground excavation until you reach the firm ground in such areas. This unstable soil will increase the depth of the foundation and may affect the cost level.

It is crucial because the foundation determines the following:

  • Strength of custom house
  • Stability of the custom house

Anti Termites Treatment

Treatment is vital before you start constructing the foundation. Ensure to treat the foundation areas with anti-termite substances. It protects the area from future infestation by termites and other underground pests.

Construction of Foundation

Foundation with load-bearing structure

It involves laying a concrete bed at the base of trenches and over the ground. Construction is per strict instructions, and you must follow the structural designer’s details.

Foundation with column beam frame structure

It involves constructing column footing in the trench. The footing is of different types; mat foundation, pad footing, and spread footing.

The isolation pad footing involves placing tied steel bars at the bottom of the footing pit. A bonding wire also connects the column steel bars in place. There is then an erection of formwork around it for pouring the concrete.

Pouring Concrete

The architect and structural designer must approve the details of the steel. The quality of the previous works is also essential, and the architect must approve it before pouring concrete into the formwork. The concrete can be ready to mix or prepared on site.


Plinth Beam

A plinth beam is one type of level or base which supports superstructure walls, columns, and structures. The function of the plinth is to pressure and load evenly across a column over a more expansive space. A superstructure is above ground level. It includes beams, columns, masonry walls, and slabs. In this structure, the plinth beam splits the superstructure and substructure, which acts as a tie beam. It keeps walls and columns linked..



Curing should not exceed the day after pouring the concrete and complete it twice daily. At earlier stages, the concrete absorbs water more. But it needs less water after about one week.

Immediate curing is vital for construction. Cracks will begin to form when you don’t carry out curing appropriately, affecting the strength of the concrete.


House Foundation Guide

You must make several decisions before starting your house. There are different types of home foundations. So deciding on the foundation type is vital. So you need to know the options and materials available to you.

The average weight of a 1,600 sq ft house structure, including furniture and appliances, is over 200 tons. As a result, a strong foundation is essential if you want your house to last.

Types of House Foundation

There are three significant types of housing foundations:

  • Basement Foundation
  • Crawl Space Foundation
  • Concrete slab foundation


There is also a wood foundation, which is a less common option.

  • Basement Foundation
  • The basement foundation has structural walls divided into two types:
  • Full basement
  • Daylight basement


A full basement foundation has structural walls that extend under the ground. They are entirely underground and have no windows. Modern full basements are beginning to incorporate small windows at ground level. 

There are two types of basement foundations:

  • Finished
  • Unfinished


Unfinished basements offer extra room space. It often serves as a water heater for the house and can also house furnaces and essential household equipment.

Daylight Basement

Daylight basement foundations are appropriate for a slope. Some of the walls stay below ground blocking daylight from filtering in, and other divisions are wholly or partly above ground. A daylight basement is also known as a walkout basement.

You need the proper slope on your lot to achieve a daylight basement. Still, you can grade the site to accommodate a daylight basement if you want how. It means you will be spending lots of money on prepping the construction site for your home. You will also need professionals to be able to achieve this result.

You need either concrete masonry units or concrete walls for a basement foundation. Contractors install steel rebar, encase them with wood planks then pour concrete into building the walls. Basement foundations are the costliest options for housing foundations. You can extend your living space if you decide on a finished basement.


Drilled Pier

When the soil is unstable and does not allow for a spread footing foundation, you need a deep foundation that bears on the stable ground below. A deep foundation supports the structure through load-bearing support. It does on balanced soil way below the unstable soil. For example, thinking of a house above water supported by deep columns may be helpful. The water table represents the unstable soil, and the columns bypass the water and bear on the stable ground below the water area.

When constructing a drilled pier, builders drill a large hole in the ground. Then, they fill it with concrete. The difference between a drilled pier and a bored pile is the size.

Construct the drilled pier to push heavy loads to a deep stratum below the ground’s surface.

Drilled Pier Foundation – Casing Method of Construction

The construction casing method applies to sites with the probability of caving. It is also suitable for areas having rock deformation due to drilling. This weakness can occur when boring as a secondary process to enlarge holes in dry soils. Rocks that are stable when cut but soon slough afterward can also undergo this deformation. In cases like this, the contractor drills a borehole and then sets a steel pipe casing to prevent sloughing.

You also need casing in cases where the clean sand under the water table requires drilling. Remove it as soon as you pour the concrete. Sometimes, the journeyman may have to leave the casing as a permanent structure. A slurry maintains the hole’s stability until the container’s insertion. After seating the covering, the slurry bails out, and the shaft extends to the needed depth.

Crawlspace Foundation

A crawlspace foundation is a type of foundation with short walls on the footing. This foundation is often unheated but usually has ventilation to prevent moisture buildup. Crawlspace foundation uses mortared concrete blocks or poured concrete. It is also less expensive than a full basement and requires less time.

People often consider a partial basement as a crawl space, and it is because you cannot convert it into a living area, but you can store some items in it.

Concrete Slab Foundation

A concrete slab foundation is also a slab-on-grade foundation. It is a standard option for:

  • Several areas
  • Climates
  • Regions


They are best for moderate climates, and the ground doesn’t go through thawing or freezing in the winter. Concrete slab foundations are very protective against termites and other insects.

A slab-on-grade foundation can make accessing water and drainage pipes complex. Most of these features lie below a few inches of concrete work. A concrete slab foundation is one of the cheapest house foundation options anyone can consider.


Wood Foundation

Wood foundations are the standard foundation for northern areas, and the foundation can also have a crawl space below it. Some foundation construction types involve wood on top of concrete floors. This foundation type is subject to pressure-treated and layered. Still, such combinations count as a concrete foundation.

Foundation Materials and Methods

Foundations can be cement or wood, but there are a few variations. Here are a few common materials you can find for foundations.


Poured Concrete

Poured concrete has dense walls that help it resist breakage and cracking. Many builders prefer to pour concrete over concrete blocks, and it is because they’re solid pieces and don’t allow the seeping of earth or water.

Poured concrete foundations make use of wooden wall forms. Contractors build these forms on the foundation’s footings and act like molds that shape the walls of the foundations.

Journeymen build these wooden walls around the support of horizontal and vertical steel rebars. As a result, they strengthen the foundations’ walls.

Concrete mixer trucks pour the mixture on-site into the wall forms. Once the concrete cures, the builder removes the wall forms. The result is a concrete wall holding back the earth surrounding the house.


Advantages of Poured Concrete

The process is predictable.

Poured concrete walls need less building time and build quicker than other foundation types. It is because the machinery does most of the work and is also not prone to leaks or damage from water.

High Lateral Strength

Solid poured concrete supported by steel bars can withstand all side land pressure. It doesn’t have many openings like block foundations. Block foundations have an intrinsic weakness with the probability of an unstable joint over time.

Less Prone to Mistakes

Poured concrete needs lots of preparation, using bulldozers, cranes, and soil compactors to move heavy loads. Due to the machinery used, mistakes are less likely to happen. Also, the standard procedure is to finish the concrete pouring process in one step.

Precast Concrete Panel

Some builders prefer precast concrete panels instead of pouring concrete on-site. Using a crane, you can move these concrete panels into place. It can sometimes be challenging to work with these panels. Still, they are time-saving. The builders do not need to wait for the concrete to cure; they can place the walls.

Precast concrete panels provide good structural framing and are suitable for air, moisture, and heat control.

Architects can also choose from:

  • Limitless forms
  • Textures
  • Colors for precast concrete cladding panels.


A contractor also has access to different finishes, including:

  • Exposed aggregate
  • Veneers with thick brick
  • Stone
  • Concrete brick panels
  • Sandblasted


Insulating precast concrete panels help to reduce costs both during and after construction.

Advantages of Precast Concrete Panels

It Saves Time on Construction

Precast concrete panels save construction time, and the project is less likely to get delayed.

Builders can carry on with the precast concrete while doing other works on-site at the same time as it helps to save time.

Quality Assurance

You can track the main factors that control and manage the quality of construction. They include:

  • Mixture Design
  • Temperature
  • Curing


As a result, you can perform improvements in the quality of construction.

Use of Prestressed Concrete

Builders can get structural materials of high strength and load-bearing capacity. Using precast concrete can result in a clear span of construction work.


It is Cost-Effective

While using a simplified construction process increases quality, safety, and productivity.



Precast concrete needs minor maintenance and is less susceptible to acid, impact, and corrosion attacks. It also resists the accumulation of dust.



Builders can use many color shade combinations and textures. It is the norm to use prefabricated structures in a controlled factory environment. This process improves the smooth finishing and aesthetic product value.


Concrete Masonry Units (CMU)

Concrete masonry units are heavy-duty building blocks. Builders use them for basements, and installation involves joining the pieces together. Waterproofing is also vital to prevent water from seeping into the structure.

Concrete block factories make foundations from stacked cinder blocks. A mixture of water, fillers, and sand makes the mortar that coats the footings. Workers lay out an even layer with the blocks on top and repeat the process until the contractor finishes the wall.

Block foundations often need rebar reinforcement because the blocks are hollow. Rebar is often necessary if the foundation supports heavy structures.

Advantages of concrete masonry units


The Process is Straightforward

Laying the walls one at a time helps the builder to avoid mistakes. It doesn’t need special equipment and machinery.


Transportation is Easier

Concrete masonry units are lighter in comparison to poured concrete. It makes moving from place to place easy.


Offers Compressive Strength

Block foundations can bear heavy vertical loads, especially those that have rebar reinforcement.


Doesn’t Rely on Concrete

Concrete masonry units use concrete, but it doesn’t need pouring and curing. This process makes it less prone to air pockets affecting the foundation.



You can find stone basements in older houses because they’re not familiar. It uses a mixture of cement and stone to form a rigid barrier. Most builders try to avoid this type of material for the basement because it can crack and chip.


Advantages of Stone


It is Durable

One of the significant advantages of stone is that it is solid and durable. Weather and common natural elements that cause wear and tear almost don’t affect this foundation. It is difficult to leave a scratch or dent on a stone foundation, and it will also not splinter, swell, or warp. Elements and outdoor weather can hardly affect stone.



Stone has a lot of aesthetic appeals and can mesh into other materials well. As a result of this versatility, it has the potential to be grandiose, warm, majestic, and welcoming.



Wood has been a stable common material for the foundation since the 1960s. The foundations are cheap, easy to assemble, and have enough strength to resist insects and moisture. Yet, wood is becoming a less popular material for foundation, and it is because it doesn’t last forever.

Advantages of Wood

Installation is Easy

The same crew that erects the wood framing of your house can install the foundation, and it takes less time to build.

Good for remote locations

It is suitable for remote locations where pouring concrete may seem difficult.



Concrete foundations can be complex in cold seasons. Erecting a wood foundation is suitable for any weather.



You can move a wooden foundation wall better than a concrete one, and it’s handy if you decide to change the floor plan of the house.


Underground Repairs Are Easier

If you need to access plumbing work or electrical wiring, you can do so better with a wooden foundation.


Green Choice and Insulation Benefits

Wood has a renewable source, so the foundations are greener than other choices. It also creates a warmer basement which reduces the cost of heating.


Foundation Construction Methods

Builders can construct a foundation in different ways. Here are a few of the standard construction methods.


Footing and Stem Wall Foundation

A stem wall foundation is very stable. As a result, it is most common in areas with low or moderate frost. It is a multi-step process that involves the following:

  • First, pour the footer
  • Next, lay blocks to form a wall until you complete the height of the slab

Footing and stem walls can sometimes take longer to complete. The result is that the foundation is solid, and it can also resist ground and water movement.


Why Use a Footing and Stem Wall Foundation?


It is Solid

The footing and stem wall is a solid type of foundation. The footing takes the load from the stem wall and distributes it over a larger area.


It Protects the House

The footing and stem wall foundation lifts the base of the house. The primary purpose is to protect the walls from flooding and other natural hazards. It also beautifies the home by elevating the structure.


Easy Access to Underground Work

In comparison to a concrete foundation, footing and stem wall allows easy access to:

  • Wiring
  • Plumbing
  • Other mechanical systems


Pier and Beam Foundations

Pier and beam foundations are common in industrial and commercial buildings. Many users still use concrete piers and beams with drilled shafts. Especially for larger residential homes.

A pier and beam foundation is best for land with clay soil and suitable for soil with high plasticity. The design and analysis of the soul are essential factors for a safe build. As a result, you will need the service of a structural engineer to supervise the project.


Pier and Beam Foundation for Manufactured Homes

The Pier and Beam Foundation for Manufactured Homes is the most popular foundation system. Drive anchors with this system into the ground to hold your home down. The anchors go into the ground first and then attach steel straps. The straps connect the anchors to the main I-beam on your home’s steel frame. Connect those I-beams using cross-members, which add stability to the foundation. After that, weld outriggers to these steel I-beams for extra strength and support.

Attach the steel frames of the home to straps to hold them in place. Add cross members and outriggers as they increase their resistance to brutal weather.

While the base is most times steel, a builder can choose concrete. Installation can be faster with this type of foundation. Yet, it is only suitable for mobile homes or manufactured homes.


Why Choose Pier and Beam Foundation?


Protection Against Flooding

Pier and beam offer an elevation above the ground. As a result, it protects the house against flooding.



If the construction site is uneven, a concrete foundation is rigid, and a pier and beam foundation will be more suitable for variable areas.



If you ever need to move your house, a pier and beam foundation will offer you that luxury. Homes on concrete slabs are difficult to move.


Monolithic/ Slab On Grade Foundation

A monolithic or slab-on-grade foundation involves pouring the concrete in one go. Pour the stem wall, footing, and subfloor of the concrete simultaneously. The result is that the slab is thick by a few inches. Also, there are more expansive concrete areas, which sustain load-bearing walls instead of footers.

A monolithic slab rests on a gravel bed. It helps improve drainage. A wire mesh reinforces the slab for extra strength. Using rebar throughout strengthens the foundation and reduces its probability of cracking. It helps them handle:

  • Sheds
  • Homes
  • Garages

A builder can include an extra insulation layer around the foundation in cold regions. It pushes the frost line away from the floor and prevents thawing and freezing.


Why Choose a Monolithic Slab Foundation?


Easy to Construct

Monolithic slab foundations are easy to construct. The builder only needs to keep adding the periphery trench. As a result, it disperses the gravel until you remove the topsoil.

The concrete will be thick in very narrow areas by about four inches. It usually takes about a few days to dry. Monolithic slabs take faster to dry, especially in comparison to the other methods of building foundations.



When construction professionals install a monolithic slab foundation can last up to about fifty years. The slab itself has no problems because the components are not complex.

The concrete does not have any joints. All the builder needs is to install the anchor bolts properly. The result is a sturdy foundation that can handle heavy weight.


Costs Less to Maintain

You don’t need much to keep a monolithic foundation in decent shape, and you do not need to maintain it every month. All you need is to give it the proper inspection at regular periods, which will help ensure that the foundation has gaps.


It is Energy Efficient

There is no space between a monolithic slab foundation and the ground, meaning you don’t need to warm the air below the slab in your house. As a result, you get to spend less on energy bills, unlike a basement or crawlspace where you need to keep the energy running.

It makes monolithic slabs cheaper for both the short and long term.


It is Sturdy

A monolithic slab foundation is as sturdy as any other foundation and firm when placed in the right conditions. Level ground is a significant feature to watch out for before laying the foundation.

If a cleared site needs only a little filling, it is suitable for a monolithic slab foundation. A level site makes constructing a slab on a grade foundation easy.


Pre-Poured Slabs


Pre-poured slabs are compact foundation panels that stay in place with the aid of a crane or other machinery. They also make installing foundations quicker and more expensive than pouring concrete foundations.

Pre-poured concrete slabs involve a technical system of construction. Place precast concrete between smaller precast beams or joints. Space these beams and span between columns and walls. The builder then pours a thin concrete layer on top for reinforcement.

The pre-poured concrete does not need the formwork of other concrete slabs. It is more flexible for projects that need phasing—for example, building improvement in rural regions.


Why Choose Precast Concrete?


Modern Engineering

Before placing the concrete in the mold, you must do the design first. Engineers use modern tools to ensure drawings in detail, using these drawings as the blueprint for the whole cast project.


Standard Quality

You can transport precast concrete to the site of construction. But it must first undergo various pretests. Technicians inspect the concrete right from the mixing phase, which helps ensure that the quality is standard.

Some laboratories test the makeup of the active ingredients. They ensure that there is a balance in the concrete mixture, and it reduces any chances of mistakes.


Can Employ Prestressed Concrete

Builders can use prestressed concrete together with pre-poured concrete for heavy projects. It will help improve the total strength and capacity for bearing loads. It is best for large-bearing projects as it will reduce the total cross-section size of load-bearing members. It also means there will be lower costs of construction.


Improves Construction Safety

There is less clutter and unwanted materials. As a result, there is less crowding of the construction site.

Pre-poured concrete needs on-site lifting and installation. It requires fewer people than when contractors need to pour in the foundation. It is the standard to discharge the concrete on-site. The result is that there is a safety improvement. Since there is less hazard on site, there is less involvement of builders.


Other Important Details

Here are other essential factors that influence foundations. It includes:

  • Building considerations
  • Pricing



Some types of foundations for custom houses are not good in certain climates. For instance, slab foundations are not good in regions that experience extreme hot or cold weather conditions. The pressure from thawing and water freezing will crack the concrete. Also, wood foundations cannot thrive in warmer climates because termites live better in such regions.

Climate is an essential factor to consider in your building plans. Do not get attached to a particular type of foundation, as it’s crucial to go with what functions best in your region. There are many foundation choices in some areas. You will still have a plethora to choose from, depending on the soil conditions.

Builders may lower the foundation of a custom house to deeper levels. For the most part, they use this method in freezing climates. They can make an insulated shelter with a roof over the staircase that leads to the basement. It is good, especially if you plan to include exterior entrances in the basement. It will keep the stairway warm, which will, in turn, protect the housing foundation.

Builders can also ensure that basement windows are above the ground by up to six inches. Sometimes increases to eight inches, especially for areas that experience heavy rainfall.


Grade of Lot and Type of Soil

Living in an area where the climate is mild might be lucky. But it does not mean you can still choose any custom housing foundation. Two things can affect the compatibility of housing foundations:

  • The grade of the lot
  • The type of soil on the site

These two factors influence foundation choice to a great extent. For instance, you might need a structural engineer to have an expert look at the building site to see if there are rocks underneath. In other cases, you might need to choose a different build site if the soil is not stable.

The grade of your lot can also influence how you choose your housing foundation. For instance, it will be difficult if you want a daylight basement before grading the site. You might have to spend more to grade the lot or go for the traditional basement instead.

If you’re building on clay soil, a drilled pier or slab on a grade foundation will be the best two options. It is because drilled pier foundations drive deeper into clay. Also, they will encourage stability. Slabs on grade foundations will fight the ability of the soil to expand or shrink.

Selecting the best foundation for your soil type will prevent problems. Know all the attributes of each soil type for your custom house, which will help avoid any damage.

Your builder will know several factors beyond soil type and water retention. So getting professional advice is always best.


Utilities and Accessibility

Some types of housing foundations make it easy to carry out repairs. Getting in and fixing broken things is easy. For instance, you might need to look at your sewer or another aspect of plumbing. If you use a wood foundation, this would be easy. But if you stay with a house in a poured concrete foundation, the pipes might be under inches of concrete. It means you’ll have to break through the concrete, which will cost even more money to repair.

The home’s internal structure accessibility depends on the foundation type. It features inside or underneath the foundation.


Design and Home Style

The architecture of your custom house can influence the type of foundation. For instance, a concrete foundation will not be suitable if you plan to install a mobile home. You might be able to sit a manufactured home on almost any type of foundation. But most homeowners decide to use pier and beam foundations, and it is because it is distinct from manufactured homes.

You can choose the type of foundation you like. But you should consider costs and construction too.


Cost and Pricing

The cost of your custom home foundation hinges on several factors, including the average labor cost in your region.

Here are essential factors that affect the pricing of a custom home foundation:


Condition of The Site

Construction costs can increase or decrease depending on the condition of the site. Some of these site conditions include:

  • Wetlands
  • Archeological sites
  • Conflicting utilities
  • Habitats of endangered species
  • Bad soil conditions
  • Groundwater
  • Overhead lines
  • Site location

If you are building your house in an area of high value, you will most likely choose a high-value custom house. It will be more expensive than building a low-value property in a low-value or average area.


Square Footage

If the square footage of your house is lower, the foundation will be cheaper, and a concrete foundation costs about $4 – $7 per square foot.

Also, the type of house matters when you want to build a single-story building. You’ll likely spend more money. If you create a multi-story structure, you’ll likely spend less. You don’t need extra concrete foundations for the upper floors. So it might save you money after all.


Type of Construction

The type of foundation you choose will affect the price, and it remains the optimal deciding factor for cost and pricing. The most expensive foundations are the basement foundations, and it’s even more costly if you prefer a finished basement. The cheapest foundation type is the concrete slab.

A crawlspace foundation could cost mid-range. You might find pre-made concrete slab solutions that cost cheaper.



The proximity of raw materials available around the site of construction also matters. How close are the raw materials to the building location? If the materials are within easy reach, construction costs will be lower and costlier if the materials are far from the site.


Depth of Foundation

If your contractor wants to dig deeper, you’ll have to spend more on the foundation project. You will need a deep foundation for your custom home in many climates. It will go below the frost line so that you can protect the structural integrity of your custom home.


Choice of Architect

It’s the architect’s job to ensure that buildings go according to plan. Amateur architects might cut corners to lower construction costs. But this is not the case with experienced and reliable architects.

The experts will follow the entire construction process. Ensure to install everything according to plans. If you hire a reputable expert, you might have to spend more. The excellent aspect is that you’ll be getting the best services.


Cost of Labor

Costs of labor often fluctuate. Sometimes, labor costs are more expensive in urban areas than in rural areas because the cost of living is higher in urban areas.



There is usually a project schedule that the contractor should follow. There can be an unpredicted delay. If the project lasts longer, indirect costs can raise the construction cost.


Other considerations

Pricing considerations also depend on:

  • The cost of materials
  • Cost of transportation
  • Extra features


For instance, installing radiant heating on the floor can save and reduce pipe installation costs. But it will increase your foundation costs to a more considerable extent. You might need to include extra waterproofing or sealant due to region or site drainage. But foundation costs will also increase.


The average price of a home foundation

A home foundation’s average price is between $4,000 and $175,000. The pricing differs based on the type of materials, the time input, and the type of foundation.

For instance, a slab basement usually costs less than $25,000. But a basement foundation can cost up to $180,000, sometimes even more.

Here’s a short overview of the costs of typical foundation projects based on the type of foundation:

  • Crawl space foundation: between $8,000 and $25,000
  • Slab foundation: Between $4,500 and $24,000
  • Basement foundation: Between $10,000 and $179,000

Note: you need permits for foundation projects, and your builder may choose to handle it for you or not.


How to Choose a Foundation Type for Your Custom Home


Consider the Site


Depending on your building site, some foundation types may work better than others. The layout also affects the type of foundation. Here are some factors that influence the site:

  • Groundwater Tables
  • Soil Conditions


Ground Water Tables

The boundary between saturated and unsaturated soil is the groundwater table. Groundwater tables rise and fall depending on the season and the site. It may affect the drainage at the building site. Water can even start seeping out of the ground into the foundation, which might cause a foundation to crack if it is not solid.


Soil conditions

Soil conditions that can affect the type of soil include:

  • Soil Layers
  • Soil Hardness


All these affect how you choose the foundation for your custom home. For instance, a building site with the solid ground would mean you don’t need to spend much on the foundation. If the soil is soft, it will show otherwise.

A drilled pier foundation is ideal, ensuring that your home rests on hard rock instead of surface dirt. The type of backfill the builder employs also affects the stability of your custom home foundation. People often opt for store-bought filler material to backfill their home foundation—for instance, limestone or aggregate.



The climate in your locality can also affect the type of foundation you choose for your custom home. For instance, frost is a vital factor, and you can spend more if you live in a region that experiences constant freezing and melting grounds. You might even start to notice crabs in your slab-on-grade foundation. In such a situation, a post and pier foundation will be the better choice for your custom home.

A foundation that can withstand flooding is best if you live in a region with a high risk of tropical storms. A post and pier foundation might also work well in this case. You can consider a slab-on-grade foundation if you live in a region with a moderate climate.


Purpose of the Foundation

The foundation’s purpose also affects your choice of custom home foundation. A monolithic slab serves a different meaning from a full basement. Knowing the goal you want your custom foundation to do you is essential, and it is because it will affect how you build your home.


Extra living spaces

You may want to increase the space or add an extra room to the floor plan of your home. A basement foundation will help, and a finished basement will increase the square footage of your house.


It can even function as an:

  • Extra bedroom
  • Media room
  • Game room
  • Lodging for guests

Also, finished basements increase the value and worth of your custom home. About thirty percent of family homes built since 2013 have partial or finished basements. It is low compared to the fifty-four percent that uses slab foundations. Only about fifteen percent include a crawl space.


Outdoor Living

A walkout basement might be the right fit for the best outdoor living results. You can include windows, a patio, and stylish doors in your walkout basement, and it will help you enjoy backyard entertainment. You can also rent out your basement as an apartment unit.



You cannot get any storage space from a concrete slab, and a wood foundation will not provide it either. When you need storage, you need a foundation with a crawl space. More so if you want to be able to keep your belongings or other appliances below the floor.



Most homeowners want foundation stability for their custom homes. But it is even necessary for people living in areas prone to flooding. An elevated slab foundation is an innovative solution. It is for people who live in flood-prone or floodplain areas.

An elevated slab foundation might take longer to build. It is also more expensive than other types of foundations. It will save you money in the future if your concern is water damage.

A suspended foundation is the best option in areas with clay soils, and it is because clay soil contracts and expands. It is even worse in wetter conditions.


Frequently Asked Questions


What is the Strongest House Foundation?

Foundations built with solid materials can hold the house in place even during earthquakes and other harsh conditions. As a result, they make them generally with concrete, which is the most robust construction material.

All these enable the house to transfer the load from up to the ground safely. It will also keep and preserve the structure of the house.


What is the Most Common Type of Foundation?

The slab foundation is the most common type of foundation. It is because it is the most cost-effective and budget-friendly option for builders. Slab Foundation might not be the best house foundation design. But it is one of the most accessible concrete foundation types for builders.

It is quick, and builders can pour it directly on a gravel bed. It may need only a bit of excavation to create a surface worthy of use.


What are the Four Basic Types of Foundations?

The four basic types of foundations are:

  • Submerged crawl space foundation
  • Slab-on-grade foundation
  • Full basement foundation
  • Flush crawl space foundation

Some houses may combine two of these types into one. There are also different systems where you can choose other foundations. The two most common methods are:

  • Precast concrete foundation walls
  • Concrete block foundation walls

They can incorporate into the four basic types of foundation.

How Deep Should a Custom House Foundation Be?

The depth of a custom home foundation varies. The least depth requirement for concrete construction or masonry is about six inches. The most negligible thickness for a concrete footing is about 1½ times the length of the footing projection from the foundation’s wall.


We have given you a thorough house foundation basics course. It has everything you need to know about custom home foundations. The type of foundation that supports your home has a significant effect on the durability and comfort of your home. If you’re planning to build your house, understanding foundations is best, and it is the perfect place to begin your custom house.

The three types of foundations common in modern homes are:

  • Crawl space foundation
  • Slab foundation
  • Basement Foundation

The proper foundation for your custom house depends on the site of construction. Other factors include the soil type, water table depth, and slope. Every kind of foundation has its advantages, including:

  • Maintenance
  • Comfort
  • Other factors