When your home was built, the contractor took into consideration the slope of the topography before ever breaking ground for the foundation, to prevent future foundation repairs – the home needs to start right from the ground up. There are many reasons for doing this. For example, if the front of your home faces east then the back of your home will get the afternoon sun, especially in the summer months.
However the contractor will also choose a location and layout to help minimize the need for back filling or excavation. These measures compromise the stability of the earth around the foundation by removing vital plants such as trees and shrubs, and also increases the risks of after effects like erosion.
Taking Measures to Lower the Impact
If you are having a new home built, then ask the contractor about foundation systems that have less of an impact on the earth. A good example of this is pole frame construction that allows for a crawlspace beneath your home. The poles submerged in the earth keep your home up off the ground but do not require large scale excavation like a block or cement foundation.
Having a proper site evaluation can help prevent foundation damage because it will not only take into account the slope of the topography, but also things like the type of rock beneath the soil, how that rock might settle beneath the weight of your home, and how natural erosion will contribute to this type of settling. Other challenges a site evaluation might help with include:
Drainage – The direction of the water flow around your foundation will affect its sturdiness. Waterproofing or adding a French drain can control how the water runs along the ground around your home and direct it away from the foundation.
Retaining Walls – An engineer can help you plan a retaining wall that is the proper height and length to direct water away from your home. When budgeting for this expense, you will also have to factor in the cost of the concrete, masonry, and other related materials and fees.
Dropped Foundation – The benefit of these foundations is that they work to fit the topography of the land. Because these designs are more complex than a standard foundation, then you can plan to pay extra for them, from the additional materials to the extra labor fees.
Although areas with picturesque views and rolling hills are nice to look at, they are not always the best place to build a home. When building a new home, talk to an engineer about the layout of the land before breaking ground. It is an added expense now, but it could prevent expensive foundation repairs later.
And when buying a previously owned home, ask about the history of its foundation. Check for cracks in the walls or the foundation itself, make sure all doors and windows open and close like they should, and that all the walls and floors are level. If they aren’t, then it could be worth getting an expert opinion before making an offer on the home.