When designing a luxury custom home, most people focus first on aesthetics. Do you want an open-concept home? Balconies? How do you want your kitchen to be laid out? Does your luxury home include a separate dining room? What colors will the walls be painted? What kinds of light fixtures will you get? What types of flooring?
These are all valid questions. Before you start buying chandeliers and pouring epoxy flooring into your new attached garage, however, you’ve got to remember the foundations of luxury custom home building.
In this case, literally. We’re going to cover what foundations are, how they’re built, and some of the things that home builders are considering when they plan and create the foundation for your new, custom-built home.
Let’s dig in.
What is a foundation?
At its most basic, a foundation is the support that holds your house above ground, preventing it from shifting and collapsing. Foundations do more than that, however – they can help keep moisture out of your home and keep it insulated. Your foundation is part of your building envelope, a term for all the parts of your home that separate the climate outside your home from the climate inside your home.
There are three basic types of foundation:
- Crawl space
A slab foundation is basically a giant, ground-level slab of concrete. They’re quite insulating, and best used on flat ground in warm climates.
Crawl space foundations are better for sloped areas and/or cooler climates; they make it easier to do some renovations, but they’re less insulating than slab foundations.
Basement foundations give your home a basement. Pretty self-explanatory.
Which of these three foundations will be used will depend on a wide variety of factors, all of which should be discussed with your contractor.
How are foundations built?
Foundations must be constructed meticulously – while tons of concrete might be poured into a foundation, builders pour in even more care. After all, the foundation has to support your whole house for decades.
Several factors are considered – soil conditions, slopes, water tables, and more. Once all of that’s been assessed, and the type of foundation that will be built is decided upon (as well as where the foundation will be built on the lot), construction can begin.
First, the area that’s going to contain the foundation is excavated. Then, footings are created – often from poured concrete supported with rebar – in order to hold the foundation. The footings are sealed to protect them from moisture. The type of footing will vary depending on the type of foundation.
From there, the foundation itself is laid. Exactly how it’s laid, again, depends on the type of foundation that’s being built. For example, walls are installed for basement foundation, while concrete is simply poured for a slab foundation.
It’s absolutely essential that your foundation resists moisture – concrete is porous, so it must be sealed. Waterproofing is a necessary step. From there, parts of the excavated area will be backfilled in order to keep the land (relatively) level, and to reinforce the foundation. Holes are created for utilities, like plumbing and electrical.
What are foundation builders thinking about?
First and foremost, they’re thinking about your safety. Foundation building takes a long time considering its simplicity compared to the rest of your home. This is done to ensure that the concrete is adequately cured and reinforced, as well as waterproofed. Inspections are done to ensure that there are no discolorations, that the ground beneath the foundation is sufficiently tamped, and more.
They’re also thinking about how they’re going to move forward and build the rest of your home – the job site needs to be completely clean and ready for construction when they’re done. You may need to rent a dumpster to give them a place to throw discarded materials. Further, they’ll make sure there’s no debris or piles of dirt.
This has just been a quick glimpse into the science of foundation building – trust us, there’s a lot more that goes into it, and your contractors are going to spend a lot of time ensuring your foundation is built to last.
When you’re ready to start your luxury custom home build, start off with a great foundation and the quality that comes with choosing Urbano Design & Build. We’ll help you make your dream home a reality. Give us a call today!