All of the great interior design ideas don’t amount to much if your home’s foundation isn’t up to snuff. In fact, a bad foundation can actually cause damage to your home and ruin your carefully-planned designs.
What is Your Foundation?
In a nutshell, the foundation is the part of your home that supports everything else. It helps keep your floors level, your windows and doors opening and closing smoothly, and your walls standing.
When you hang pictures and paintings, a good foundation makes a difference between the paintings looking even, or off-kilter. When you paint the walls, a good foundation makes the difference between having a smooth surface, or having to spend extra time filling in cracks.
Types of Foundations
Depending on where you live, you could have a poured or block foundation, a slab foundation, or a dirt foundation.
• A poured or block foundation is usually below ground and the foundation forms the basement or crawlspace beneath the home.
• A slab foundation is usually a large concrete area that sits right on the ground to provide a stable surface on which to build. These types of homes usually have no basements.
• A dirt foundation is usually tightly packed dirt onto which the builder puts pilings or footers , as the “feet” upon which the house stands. These types of homes usually have no basements, or they have small, dirt crawl spaces or cellars.
Types of Foundation Problems
The types of problems you encounter depends on the type of foundation.
• Poured or block foundations usually have problems wall integrity: the walls may weaken and crack or bow from the ground shifting around it, or from water damage.
• Slab and dirt foundations usually have problem with the ground shifting so that it no longer supports the slap, or the footings properly.
Symptoms of Foundation Problems
All old houses shift as they age, leading to slightly uneven floors or slightly crooked doorways. In most cases these are not the signs of foundation failure, but the normal result of aging.
However, if you experience the following, you could have a faulty foundation on your hands:
• Cracks in your load-bearing walls, especially horizontal cracks.
• Cracks where the chimney joins the house.
• Doors and windows that don’t open properly
• Water leaking through the walls in your basement
• The house appears to lean to one side
• Broken or cracked pedestals in your basement, or broken or cracked footers in your crawl space.
If you suspect that you have a faulty foundation, you should first call a foundation repair professional to evaluate your home. If he determines that it is the foundation, he could offer a variety of suggestions depending on the type of foundation you have, and the cause of the problem.
For example, if the foundation is faulty due to water damage, he could recommend repairing the existing damage, and waterproofing the foundations to prevent further damage.
Make sure the person you call is a certified professional who specializes specializes in foundation repair.
Other Things to Consider
Even if you don’t have any known foundation issues, it’s a good idea to have it inspected before you begin any projects that involve building onto your home.
Foundations are designed to carry the weight of your house. If you are building onto it, especially if you are building vertically, your foundation might not be able to bear the additional weight.
Sources: Images: 1: JB Architecture Group, Inc. 2: JB Architecture Group, Inc. 3: Howard Design Studio. 4: Smith & Vansant Architects PC. 5: Smith & Vansant Architects PC. 6:Howard Design Studio.
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