Most people understand that a home’s foundation is crucial to its overall stability.  But what exactly is a “home foundation?”  Well, a new home foundation actually involves several different steps, including building a pad through dirt work and grading, plus pouring a slab.  It’s important that you understand this new home construction jargon, including foundation terminology.  That way, you can understand your builder and more easily follow the home building process.

So, let’s talk about some basic terminology–such as pad, dirt work, grading, and slab–which is used when discussing a new home foundation.

Foundation Terminology 101

“You can’t build a great building on a weak foundation.”  -Gordon B. Hinckley

Foundation Term #1:  Pad

The term “pad” causes frequent confusion.  This is understandable, as when you search “foundation pad,” the first thing google tells you about is a “pad foundation.”  According to google, a “pad foundation” is a concrete pad that supports a load such as a column.  While this is true, this is not what the term “pad” normally signifies in new home construction.

Generally speaking, the “pad” of your new home is the dirt work that creates a smooth, flat surface on your land or lot where your home will be built.  Thus, the pad is the first and most temporary part of foundation construction.

Foundation Term #2:  Dirt Work / Grading

As previously stated, the pad of your new home is created through dirt work.  In other words, before a concrete slab is poured for a home foundation, dirt work must be completed. Simply put, dirt work is the moving of dirt (also called “grading”) to form a smooth, flat surface where your home will be built.  Proper dirt work (or grading) is the first crucial step to building a solid home foundation.

It is important to note that dirt work is not permanent. In other words, if the home needs to be moved to another spot on the lot or land, the dirt work can be re-done in preparation for the slab’s new location.  Re-doing work, however, is not free.  So, it is very important to consider where you want your home placed so that you avoid the cost of change orders.

Foundation Term #3:  Slab

When people outside the construction industry hear the word foundation, they normally picture the slab.  Though there are different types, the slab is the concrete that forms the foundation of your home.  Thus, after the pad is created through dirt work and grading, the slab is poured.  The structure of your house is built upon this concrete slab.

You don’t need to know it all.

While understanding basic construction terminology aids communication, we don’t expect you to understand all the jargon involved in new home construction.  Remember how I said there are different types of slabs?  Well, there are actually 16 different ones!  But you don’t need to know about all those.  We do.  In fact, we believe an important part of our job is to answer client questions about construction terms and processes.

Contact us!

So, if you have questions about new home construction, please feel free to contact us.  And make sure to check out the other articles posted in our Home Builders Blog, which discuss various aspects of the design-build process.

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New Home Construction Jargon: Foundation Terminology 101
Article Name
New Home Construction Jargon: Foundation Terminology 101
An article explaining basic foundation terminology, including pad, dirt work, grading, and slab.
Publisher Name
Elements Design Build L.L.C.
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