Twenty years ago, I built my first frost-protected shallow foundation here in Maine. It cost me less than $500 to install and has performed flawlessly ever since; I still live on it today. Admittedly, this type of foundation is eyed somewhat warily by those unfamiliar with its design principles. But, in fact, as foundations go, it’s quick and cost-effective and provides an excellent base for the super-insulated homes we build.

Compared with a full foundation, a frost-protected slab can reduce construction costs in my market by about $20,000 for a house with 850 square feet on the first floor. Part of that economy comes from the fact that the base prep and formwork for a shallow foundation can be done by a crew of carpenters instead of a foundation contractor. That’s...

or Register to read the full article.