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EP #10: What Type of Foundation is my Home?


Episode

Charlie (00:00):

Welcome to the Alpha Foundations podcast, protecting you since 2002! Here’s your host, Brent Pearson.

Brent (00:08):

Welcome back everybody, to the Alpha Foundations podcast. We’re in Monticello, Florida. I have the director of sales with us, Rick Malphurs once again. Thanks for joining us.

Rick (00:15):

Good afternoon, Brent.

Brent (00:16):

How are you today?

Rick (00:17):

I’m wonderful.

Brent (00:18):

Good. So here’s what we’re going to do today. We’re going to talk a little bit about the different types of foundations, and if you can kind of explain the differences between what we see every day. Let’s go ahead and just kind of emphasize the concrete slab and crawl spaces today.

Brent (00:31):

So, I’m really wanting people to understand, like if they go to buy a house, what are the issues they might face? I’m sure some people don’t know if it’s a slab or crawl space, but I would like them to kind of be able to tell what’s going on so they can address their issues effectively.

Rick (00:45):

Okay, fantastic. Well again, thanks for having me on today.

Rick (00:50):

The standard types of foundations that you’re gonna run into in the state of Florida are going to be a regular concrete slab foundation, whether it’s monolithic or a stem wall…

Rick (00:59):

…you’ll have a crawl space foundation, which will have a stem wall on the outside, and a crawl space underneath, meaning you can actually get underneath the home.

Brent (01:08):

Sure.

Rick (01:09):

A literal crawl space. And then you have a foundation with a basement.

Brent (01:14):

Right.

Rick (01:15):

And then you have a peer or piling foundation, which is found a lot more along the coast where you have flood elevations, which require you to have the home much higher off the ground.

Brent (01:26):

Okay. So could you say that most people are kind of confused about whether they live on a slab or a crawl space?

Rick (01:31):

I would say we get that regularly as a matter of fact. People are like, “um, I’m not sure” cause that’s one of the questions we ask them in particular is, “do they live on a slab or a crawlspace?”

Rick (01:42):

And they’re like, “I’m not sure.”

Brent (01:44):

Yeah. So, you mentioned earlier, a crawl space, if they can physically crawl up under a house, then that settles it right there.

Rick (01:50):

For sure. For sure.

Brent (01:51):

Now, you mentioned basement. How many times do we see those a year in Florida as a design tech running leads?

Rick (01:56):

I would say five times a year.

Brent (02:02):

Okay.

Rick (02:02):

And that’s in North Florida, which North Florida, you’re gonna see it much – it’s going to be much more prevalent than it would be in Central or South Florida, but you know, four or five times a year max.

Brent (02:11):

Okay. So if I’m in Orlando, I might be wondering why I don’t have a basement. Why would that be?

Rick (02:15):

Generally in Florida, the water table is a lot higher. The soil is a lot more susceptible to different types of moisture like we talked about in different podcasts and things of that nature. So, higher water table means you’re not going to put half the house underwater.

Brent (02:30):

Okay. That makes sense. So you mentioned basement, hardly ever see them. That’s usually what they poured concrete finished down there or is that –

Rick (02:38):

Yeah, for sure. For sure. Yeah. You’d have basically a standard concrete footing, then they would build the walls up off of the footing in either concrete block or they would pour a standard full concrete wall and then you’d have a concrete slab and then they would basically build it almost like a garage is built. Similar. And then they would build a house on top of that.

Brent (02:58):

Okay. But the crawl spaces that people have in Florida and South Georgia are not going to have a poured slab underneath there. Just gonna be a dirt crawl space?

Rick (03:05):

Yeah, and it’s one of those where you run into it sometimes, but, uh, it’s pretty rare most of the time.

Brent (03:09):

Okay.

Rick (03:10):

So yeah, the crawl space is generally going to be – you can kind of measure it by either, the blocker brick on the outside. If you see something that’s two or three blocks high, you know, it’s about a foot and a half to two feet tall.

Brent (03:21):

Okay.

Rick (03:21):

You’ll have a standard vent on the outside. So maybe one of those blocks is taken out. So you can kind of see through there. Or you have something we call a “grandma’s crawl space”, which is an older home that has concrete columns or piers around the perimeter.

Brent (03:37):

Gotcha.

Rick (03:37):

And it’s, you know, you can kind of see right underneath the house.

Brent (03:40):

Right. Okay. So, but we don’t see a whole bunch of those, or they’re covered with lattice or some kind of veneer these days.

Rick (03:44):

For sure, yeah. A lot of insurance companies want the access under the home to be pretty limited.

Brent (03:52):

Okay. Safety reasons and whatnot.

Rick (03:54):

For sure. Little kids.

Brent (03:54):

I think that makes sense. So, running around the side of the house, you’re going to be looking for vents in the block. That’s a dead giveaway. That is a crawlspace versus a slab. What’s the advantage of having a slab over a crawl space, if there is any?

Rick (04:07):

A lot of times it is personal preference. You know, a slab home, it’s probably going to be a little bit better insulated from the ground up because it might be a little bit cooler, especially here in Florida. That might be nice.

Rick (04:21):

But again, you’re going to be built, generally if you have a flatter lot, it’s going to be a lot easier, less costly to build, a home on a slab. You know, the newer slabs are going to be monolithic where they’re all one pour.

Brent (04:38):

Got it.

Rick (04:38):

So they’ll dig the perimeter footing and then they’ll pour the concrete and the slab and everything all in one pour.

Brent (04:43):

Okay.

Rick (04:43):

With a crawl space home, a lot of times you’ll get that if you have a slope in the yard or something like that, or you have maybe some type of flood elevation issue where it has to be higher up off the ground. The past year where wood was much more expensive, you know, they might’ve built a concrete slab up taller off the ground. Again, it just depends on you, your contractor and those kinds of things…

Rick (05:04):

…but concrete slab preferences are mainly just going to be, that’s what people are used to.

Brent (05:11):

Sure.

Rick (05:11):

You’re walking around. You can’t hear – (laughs) I know that sounds kinda silly, but I live on a crawlspace home and when my daughter wakes up 79 feet down the house, you can hear her running through the house at five o’clock in the morning.

Brent (05:26):

That’s your alarm clock.

Rick (05:27):

Correct. A hundred percent. I don’t even have to set it.

Brent (05:29):

Okay. So that kinda leads me into our next topic. What is the disadvantages of a crawlspace versus a slab?

Rick (05:37):

I mean, I personally like a crawl space over a slab, because if you have a crawl space house that’s 2000 square feet and you want to change a bathroom around, or you want to do a kitchen remodel or something like that, it’s pretty easy because all of your plumbing, all of your electrical and everything like that is very accessible underneath the home.

Brent (05:53):

Okay.

Rick (05:53):

The primary disadvantage you’re going to see is that wood underneath the house has the possibility of coming in contact with the moisture and everything that comes out of the soil. You know, we’re not talking about encapsulation, but that’s one of the things that we do. I actually have it in my house, where we’ll encapsulate that area to where you can make it a nice semi-conditioned space under your house. So that the wood is not susceptible to moisture and mold.

Brent (06:19):

Okay, so that’s probably the disadvantage of a crawlspace home – all the moisture that can have some poor effects on the wood structure itself.

Rick (06:26):

Different smells, that kind of stuff. I mean you get a lot of people may, maybe they’re not used to it and they’re just kind of freaked out by it.

Brent (06:33):

How would I know if I have a problem with my crawl space home? You mentioned the smell. So what does that, how would I know, what kind of smell, what am I looking for? Besides spicy, cause that’s what you say. I love it.

Rick (06:40):

Spicy is what I would say. You walk in the house and be like “damn it’s spicy”, you know what I mean?

Brent (06:45):

Throat trying to close up a little bit?

Rick (06:46):

Correct, like somebody’s got 37 cats or something I don’t know. And if you have cats, I apologize.

Brent (06:51):

I love cats.

Rick (06:52):

I just, I’m not a cat guy, but it’s cool. So, you walk in the house, you know, maybe it feels a little bit damp. You’re like, “Hey, do you run your air conditioner like, all the time?”

Rick (07:00):

And you’re like, “okay, great.” You know, maybe some ripples in that old wood flooring.

Brent (07:04):

Hardwood flooring.

Rick (07:05):

Hardwood floors, if there’s some ripples or anything like that, basically the moisture gets up in the flooring. It starts to expand and shift and move a little bit…

Brent (07:12):

Okay.

Rick (07:12):

…and a lot of times you can see that from there. But yeah, you’re going to see – you’re going to have a lot higher levels of humidity. You know, maybe your energy efficiency is way down…

Brent (07:20):

Sure, and clammy feeling, as you said. The musty smell.

Rick (07:25):

If you go to a closet that maybe doesn’t have an air conditioning vent in there and you open it up and there’s maybe a little bit of cloudy, fungus mold on some shoes or something like that in the closet, that’s a moisture issue with your crawl space.

Brent (07:36):

Okay, so that’s something that we can tackle…

Rick (07:38):

For sure.

Brent (07:38):

…but you need to be looking out. So, I know a lot of guys are trying to buy a house and there’s so many different options. I mean, one story, two story, but the slab versus crawlspace is always a big debate.

Rick (07:48):

Correct.

New Speaker (07:49):

So moisture, I would be looking out for that if I’m buying a crawl space home.

Rick (07:52):

Correct.

New Speaker (07:52):

How about a slab? Is there anything?

Rick (07:56):

I would say the biggest disadvantage, especially here in Florida with a slab home, is you want to make sure that the elevation is still proper.

Rick (08:03):

You know, you’ll have a lot of new neighborhoods that go up and there are codes and rules to make sure that the slab is elevated at least, you know, 12 inches above the soil that’s there and there’s flood elevation where it needs to be at least a foot above flood elevation.

Rick (08:16):

Again, different counties might have different rules and regulations, but if the slab is too close to that water table or something like that, it does make it a little bit harder sometimes to add onto the home.

Rick (08:29):

You know, if you have plumbing leaks or anything like that, the only way you’re getting to that water is by tearing up the whole floor system.

Brent (08:35):

Okay.

Rick (08:36):

Okay. So let’s say you’ve got this nice big house. You paid a lot of money for some marble floors or something like that and you have a water leak in the kitchen or a sewage issue or something like that underneath the island that you just put, you know, some type of marble countertops on or something like that. Now you’re having to take all that out and demo everything.

Rick (08:52):

Whereas if you had a crawl space, you can just go underneath the house, change some plumbing around and you’re good to go.

Brent (08:57):

Okay. So it really just depends on which kind of house, what kind of condition is in, but you can have troubles with either a slab or a crawl space.

Rick (09:03):

one hundred percent.

Brent (09:04):

Okay. So you’re not really safe one way or the other or out of the woods I would say.

Rick (09:08):

(laughing). Right. Danger everywhere!

Brent (09:11):

So what you need to do, if you’re concerned, give us a call. We can come look at it, make sure everything looks good.

Rick (09:15):

One hundred percent. Either style.

Brent (09:15):

Sweet. Anything else that you’d like to add?

Rick (09:19):

I would say again, if you have, if you have a house with a basement and there’s some issues with water or something like that, we can definitely come look at it for you. We’re not going to – you know, waterproofing in a basement isn’t something we’re tackling every day, but all of our guys are extremely knowledgeable about it, and if it’s something we can’t help with, we can definitely get you in contact with the right person. And then, you know, a lot of houses that are on pilings…

Brent (09:38):

Like a beach house or something like that?

Rick (09:42):

We have pile jackets. We have a lot of different systems for houses on pilings. We see that a lot with a lot of guys that live over on every coast in the state of Florida.

Brent (09:53):

Okay. So if I’m looking at buying a beach house or a home on a beach house currently where I can park up underneath it, some of those wood piles are driven down into the earth, correct?

Rick (10:00):

Right.

Brent (10:01):

And so if I’m going to be, you know, I’m kind of suspect about the beach house through the hurricanes, but I can check those piles to see if they’re structurally sound by looking at the dirt line where the whole pile meets the earth.

Rick (10:12):

And you can see again, if the moisture gets in there and you have moisture and air coming in contact with that piling. You might dig down a few feet and it’s not really rotten or anything like that, and if you go up, it’s not rotten, but it’s right there where that that air in that water and everything mix right there in that soil. But it’s definitely something we can handle for you. Take a look at – and again, if it’s something we can’t fix…

Brent (10:32):

Right.

Rick (10:32):

…we’ll know somebody that can.

Brent (10:35):

Yup. Sounds good, man. I appreciate your time here today. I think we might pick up another podcast here pretty soon, but until then have a good day.

Rick (10:41):

Thank you sir.

Brent (10:42):

Thanks man. Appreciate it.

Speaker 1 (10:43):

Thanks for listening to the Alpha Foundations podcast. To learn more about Alpha Foundations, go to www.alphafoundations.com or call 866-378-7211.

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