Choosing a foundation type for your log home is a decision that involves many considerations. Your build site weighs heavily on the decision, in terms of climate, building codes, and local preferences. Certainly, your personal preferences also influence the decision, as do budget and how you intend to use your log home. Below, we’ll explore these issues and how modern building has changed some of these considerations.
The decision on whether to use a basement or not has, in the past, been driven by the local climate and its effect on building codes. In order to protect against frost heaves, the foundation footing of a building must lie below the depth at which moisture in the soil will freeze, known as the frost line. In New England or the Mountain States this depth can exceed five feet, while in the South the depth can be six inches or less. Since you have to dig down so deep in the north, it was little trouble to dig a bit deeper and add a basement. In the South, slab construction was more popular since the added depth was not necessary and high-water tables often meant increased costs in building a basement.
Recently, advances in slab construction make it possible to use this method in more climates. A technique known as frost protected shallow foundation uses thermal insulation to protect the slab foundation from frost damage. This means that a slab foundation can be used in colder climates. However, if it is local custom to have a basement, it may make sense to build a basement for the positive effect it will have on your home’s resale value. On the other hand, if you are building a small cabin where you do not need a basement, then you can use slab construction as an option.
Although basements cost more to construct, they do offer a great deal of storage space. Furthermore, a basement provides easy access to utilities compared to a slab foundation or even a crawlspace. If your build site is on a slope, then a basement probably makes the most sense. Since the foundation must be built below the low side of the slope anyway a basement is not much more work, and a walk-out basement is a very easy way to increase the amount of livable space in your log home.
If you’d like to learn more about designing a log home or cabin, please call Real Log Homes today or fill out the form below for more information. Their network of Independent Representatives can also come visit your land and help you decide if a slab or full basement is the right choice for you, your site and your budget.