The History of Home Foundations [Through 2020]

February 11, 2020

houston home foundationLooking at a foundation now, it may be hard to imagine that there were different kinds of foundations once upon a time! The evolution of foundations is as varied and vast as any other kind of history, starting with the basics and moving through advancements to become the intricate, detailed foundations that exist in homes today. 

Foundational Beginnings

Foundations are a key part of keeping homes standing at the height that they were originally built at, and keeping the home in place! Without foundations, homes would shift, and move, and sink into the ground that they stand on. The way that this used to be accomplished is by using something called pad stones. These pad stones were placed in order to support the weight of the house on the stones rather than on the soil so that they would not sink. Another similar way that homes used to be built, is with post-in-ground construction. Similar to how pad stones were meant to be the load-beating piece of the foundation, post-in-ground works by placing wooden posts in the ground that will bear the weight of the house. While this was a good idea, it was limited in its ability to anchor the home. The foundation was limited to only the depth that someone could dig, which meant that the foundation was shallow. This was good for shelters that needed to be put in place fast, but not as good for longterm buildings, as they were susceptible to every shift of the ground. 

Foundation Types: Stone 

Stone foundations became more and more popular as different technologies advanced. The pad stone theory gave way to a variety of different foundations using different types of stone to make layers underneath the structure. Rubble trench foundations used pebbles and rocks and packed them tightly in a ditch with a hollow middle. By doing this, all of the weight was placed on the outer pieces of the structure. Water was a risk for these kinds of foundations, so some decided to use mortar to seal the stones and primitive drainage systems to direct water away from the house. Stone foundations are still common today, given how economically sustainable it is, as well as being very resilient. 

Foundation Types: Wood

As well as with stone, as technology changed, so did the ability to use other malleable materials such as wood. One type of foundation created with wood is a poteaux-sur-sol foundation. This kind of foundation, post on a sill, is very similar to the post-in-ground technique. With this technique, the home's frame would hang off of the posts that rested on top of a sill. The sill would connect to the foundation. The sill was used to be a support frame, while also adding another layer between the home and the foundation. This meant that any potential shifting of the soil would place the weight on the sill and leave that as the main source of the damage rather than the foundation. 

Foundations Today

Foundations in today's day and age go far deeper than any of the early technology foundations! This is important because it allows for bigger stability than the shallow foundations. Now, foundations can be dug more than 100 feet into the ground. Foundations in and around Texas are generally deep foundations because that is what the soil requires in order to guarantee a strong, solid foundation.

The history of foundations is as ever-changing as any other kind of history. There are a lot of different ways that foundations have evolved, coming from simple pad stones to steel pilings and concrete piers. It is important to know not only the history of foundations but also to know what to look for in foundations and ensure that they are in the best possible condition. If you have any concerns about your foundation, do not hesitate to reach out to Allied Foundation. Knowing the type of foundation you have can help you determine what you need to look for, or what repairs need to be made. To schedule a free estimate on foundation repairs, contact us today!

Foundation Health Checklist

Mark Jacobs

Written by Mark Jacobs

Customer Service Manager Mark developed a passion for foundation repair in his formative years. Growing up in the family business has shaped the way he looks at homes and his ability to solve problems - from the ground up! He loves to read and keep up with the new technology that is constantly developing in the foundation repair industry. Outside of work, he loves adventuring with his family, spending time by the water, and has a passion for cooking.

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