A home is only as strong as its foundation. You’ve probably heard the saying a thousand times, but that’s because it’s true. The foundation supports everything above, so it is arguably the most important part of your home or building.
Almost all modern buildings have concrete foundations. But there are several different types, and prices vary from one to the next. Read on to learn more about the various types of concrete foundations and what you can expect to pay.
There are three basic types of concrete foundations. Climate, budget and personal preference all play a role in which type of foundation should be used.
With slab foundations, concrete is poured directly onto the ground. These foundations are the least expensive but some types are not suitable for certain climates. Slab-on-grade foundations can only be used where the ground doesn’t freeze. Frost-protected and T-shaped slabs work in colder climates, but they’re more expensive.
A crawl space is essentially just a raised foundation. These are often found in the middle part of the country, where the climate is cold in the winter but frost lines are not too deep. This kind of foundation gets its name because the foundation is usually raised just a few feet - enough to crawl around and store items but not enough to stand up.
Finally, there are basements. The foundations are raised high enough to walk around freely. Basements are more expensive than slabs and crawl spaces, but the advantage is that they create extra living or storage space. Basements are also ideal for cold climates where frost lines are shallow.
In some areas, local building codes place restrictions on what type of foundation you can lay. Be sure to check with local officials before building.
The price of a concrete foundation depends on the type of foundation, the size of your home, the local climate, the time of the year it is built and local labor rates.
For new construction of a single-family home, the National Association of Home Builders estimates that foundation, excavation and backfill make up 9.3 percent of the total construction cost. If you’re building a $200,000 home, for example, the foundation would cost $18,600. (NAHB data is from 2011, the latest year available.)
Keep in mind that the figures above are averages. As previously mentioned, slab foundations are the least expensive, crawl space foundations are slightly more expensive and basements come with the highest price tag.
Breaking down the price, budget about $80-$120 per cubic yard (27 square feet) for concrete alone. Say you’re building a 400-square-foot garage or addition - the concrete for that project would cost $593 to $889. Then you’ll have to add the cost of additional materials such as lumber or composite for footings and sand or gravel for the base. Labor adds about $4 to $7 per square foot to the total price.
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