Starting with a strong foundation

An image street of homes with the slogan Proudly Overbuilt Foundations in the bottom right corner.

Starting with a strong foundation

September 2, 2021

At Homes by Taber, we strive to create functional, beautiful and high-quality homes that are built to last—and for each and every home, that starts with building the strongest foundation possible that is compatible with Oklahoma soil. 

The foundation is the lowest load-bearing component of your home, holding up its weight and keeping everything in place. A well-laid foundation acts as an anchor between framing and the ground below, which helps protect your home from natural disasters and water damage—and creates the much-needed stability a home requires to endure decades of wear. 

While laying the foundation is the beginning step of almost every home building process, not all foundations are created equal. Construction Manager Kendrick Hartman has been with Homes by Taber for over seven years, but has about 20 years of total experience in the home building industry—so he knows a thing or two about proper building practices. Kendrick offered some insight into the different types of foundations, the pros and cons of each and why we use the type that we do. 

What type of foundation does Homes by Taber use?

The base of every Homes by Taber house begins with a footing and stem wall foundation, which consists of three main steps and is a pricier option compared to some other foundation options, which is why some builders choose to go with another foundation. However, this is not an area to cut corners on. 

 A row of houses on a road

“This style of foundation is very labor-intensive and is more costly than some other options available,” Kendrick said, “but it’s not an area you want to go cheap on in construction when you’re building someone’s biggest investment. It takes multiple steps, so more time, more concrete, and more labor. But it’s all just a part of our Proudly Overbuilt promise.” 

A footing and stem wall foundation starts once your lot is leveled, and a footprint of the home is outlined. First, the team digs a trench that’s 18 inches wide and 24 inches deep along the entire outline of the home, and then adds rebar pins. The footing is then created by filling this trench with concrete.  

 A foundation on a plot of land

Once the footing is cured, the next step is to place rebar dowels vertically where the stem walls will be placed—the typical stem wall is 6 inches thick and 14 to 24 inches high. Concrete is then poured again, surrounding the dowels. The combination of vertical dowels and cured, rebar-reinforced footings keep the stem wall from shifting

Lastly, before the concrete slab is poured the interior of the stem walls are filled with sand and a moisture barrier is installed to prevent water from entering through the concrete into the home. A third concrete pour is then done over the moisture barrier to create the floor. 

 A foundation with a black tarp on it to protect the foundation

The three separate concrete pours, with rebar reinforcement, is what makes this technique so sturdy—especially in Oklahoma, where the red clay soil can cause lots of problems for homes with improper foundations. 

“It’s tried and true,” Kendrick said. “Builders have been using footing and stem wall foundations for a long time, and we know how it holds up over the years. Earthquakes are a more recent phenomenon in our area, and homes with this foundation that were built 20 years ago are withstanding the increased ground movement.” 

 A foundation on a plot of land with a concrete truck on the left and the frame of a home on the right.

What are the other foundation types that area builders use?  

Foundation style popularity varies by region, building type and other factors, but there are other styles that are commonly used by builders in Oklahoma. 

The first option other builders opt for is a pier and beam grade foundation. They follow the same general principles as the footing and stem wall foundation, but the footing itself is different and that is where the issues can arise from this option. Instead of digging the trench around the entire perimeter of the home, separate holes are dug around the perimeter that will hold the vertical rebar. A stem wall is formed on top, so the rebar goes through the stem wall straight into the piers. This type of foundation is a much cheaper option because it requires less materials, which in turn provides less support for the structure. According to Robert Zahl, a tenured Oklahoma engineer, cutting costs with a pier grade beam foundation will, “ultimately lead to a more significant expense to the homebuyer for subsequent repairs.” 

 A diagram of Pier and beam grade foundation

The City of Edmond has outlawed this foundation in the Edmond City Limits, but some builders choose to use it in order to save on costs. 

Homes by Taber has seen how this foundation option has affected homes in this region and has decided to include it in their homes so their homeowners are protected from faulty foundations

“There’s not a lot of required inspection for it, making it easy for builders to cut corners on the width and depth of the piers. It also doesn’t hold up well in clay soils, because there’s not a container for the rebar to withstand movement,” says Kendrick.  

Additionally, pier and grade beam foundations run the risk of washout. Because the stem wall doesn’t go all the way down to a solid footing, the dirt and sand that is under the foundation can wash away—leaving the foundation exposed to severe moisture and insect damage. Zahl asserts, “It seems that whoever decided that this system was a good way for builders to save money in the construction of a house overlooked the fact that the continuous portion of the foundation system, and not just the piers, needs to be below the frost line,” which helps ensure moisture stays out of the foundation.

This is a picture of a home in Oklahoma that had this inferior foundation installed by another builder, provided by Zahl:

 A home with the dirt under the foundation washed away

If you’re curious as to whether a home has a pier and grade beam foundation, it’s easy to tell. Just look for the exposed concrete around the perimeter of the home. This is an easy to identify indicator that the home is built on this subpar foundation.

This is a picture to demonstrate this exposed foundation, provided by Zahl:

 The side of a home with the foundation exposed

Post-tension foundations are another option. Many builders will market that they use this style, but the Homes by Taber team knows where it may fall short compared to the footing and stem wall technique. 

The process for a post-tension foundation starts with a trench around the perimeter, like you’re about to pour concrete for a footing—but instead, foam boards are placed to create an outline of the home. Then, teams come in to do the ground plumbing, fill the area with sand and install a material called post-tension cables. These cables run all the way across and through the concrete slab, once filled, and are “stretched” by a machine after the concrete has cured. The theory behind this method is that pulling on those cables causes extra tension in the concrete, thus improving the PSI (pounds per square inch) and creating a more durable, long-lasting foundation. 

Although it might sound like a solid approach, Kendrick pointed out a few flaws in this foundation. 

“First off, it’s not really been proven that doing the post-tension stretch has a long-term effect on the strength of the concrete,” Kendrick said. “Second, the one single pour of concrete [as opposed to the three-step pour deployed in stem wall technique] makes the foundation more susceptible to cracks during movement. And third, these cables can sometimes snap after years of tension, causing the top of the concrete to pop off and damage flooring.” 

He also noted that most issues with post-tension foundations stem from mistakes early on in this building process. Builders tout that the tension will create a stronger foundation—but if the stretching and concrete pour isn’t timed correctly, the stretching won’t increase PSI at all.  

What drives Homes by Taber’s choice of foundation? 

Just like every other step in the buying and building process, Homes by Taber always puts our homeowners first—which is why we take the extra time and effort to use the footing and stem wall technique for our foundations. 

Most homeowners don’t know much about foundations, but it’s literally the backbone of every single home we build. Our other talented team members won’t cut corners or take the easy way out—they’re dedicated to creating a long-lasting, durable end product for each and every homeowner. We’re focusing on the future of our homes and the people who live in them, and ensuring they have a strong foundation to last for decades to come.  

There's a reason thousands of Oklahomans have come to trust Homes by Taber with their new-construction home needs. Our team is always looking to improve our building practices, focusing on providing homeowners with the highest quality of home and highest quality of customer service

If you’re looking for a new-construction home in Oklahoma City or Tulsa, trust Oklahoma’s Favorite Builder. Browse our thoughtfully designed communities, personalize a floor plan from the comfort of your computer or check out our inventory of quick move-in homes

To learn more about our industry-leading building practices to to schedule a tour of one of our model homes, give us a call at (405) 285-5105 or fill out an online form.

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Our Happy Homeowners

Have lived in my Homes by Taber home for 6 months now. Everything has been great. The warranty group has addressed any issue with my house and surrounding areas while in the construction phase in a very timely manner. They made my first home purchase one that I still enjoy and get compliments on the design and appearance all the time.

Jonathan Baker

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