Monday, October 24, 2016

"A Good Foundation Means More Than Just How The Home Is Built"

We know that homes need good, solid, proper foundations from which to allow the walls to rise out of the ground and stand to become as the places we live. While foundations can vary, there are some common styles of foundations for residential buildings (not counting larger apartment or condominium buildings) - crawl spaces built with stem walls, basements (precast concrete and poured-in-place), and concrete slabs on grade.

Some foundations - and the final grading against them that shapes the yards we see - provide easier access to the front door than others. Some require steps and some offer a more straight-in approach. Part of this is due to the foundation itself, but much of it has to do with the way the yard is contoured and finished before the original occupants move-in.

The quality of the eventually completed structure begins with the foundation. If it is constructed well, the builder sitting atop it will have a great beginning. It will have solid underpinnings from which to begin.

Once the home is completed, the foundation sitting underneath the visible building will continue to go on and serve the structure well. However, a home is more that its foundation, While it cannot remain standing for long without a good foundation, this is just one of the foundations that is important in a home.

Another type of foundation that is fundamental to effectively living in and using a home is the one that lies atop the floor system - concrete slab or sub-floor attached to the floor joists. This is what counts to many people and what can actually affect the occupants and visitors of a home.

When people step on or walk across a floor in their home, or one they are visiting, they need for it to remain solid and not give under the weight and pressure of their step or device (wheelchair or walker). Any give in the floor, other than a little cushion provided by some laminates and vinyl flooring, is cause for concern by the person doing the walking. This movement in what they expect will be a solid foundation on which to stand or step can create balance and equilibrium issues and concerns. Depending on how severe the floor compression is, a person can actually fall due to the shift in their balance.

People need to know that there is a solid foundation beneath them - not just from the way the home is built but the covering on top of that foundation also. They expect to have confidence in this.

Another area where people step in and about the home that they expect to be solid and to support them without question is at the entry and any patios or decks at the side or rear of the home. When people approach a home, they do not expect that the sidewalk will be anything other than solid and that any step to the front door will be similar - whether wooden or concrete. The same hold true for porches or stoops. As for concrete patios or wooden decks, they likewise expect them to be supportive of their standing, walking, or sitting.

A good foundation - whether supporting the house or supporting people as they move across it - is vital to the integrity and well being of a home and its occupants or visitors.
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Steve HoffackerCAPS, C.E.A.C., MCSP, MIRM, is a licensed Certified Aging-In-Place Specialist instructor and best-selling author of universal design books. To learn about this and other programs for aging-in-place or universal design, visit stevehoffacker.com or call 561-685-5555.