Slab Foundation:
Cheap, Yet Sturdy Option

First, let's examine the PROS of concrete slab foundations.

Concrete slab is one of the cheaper, yet sturdy foundation options. It is also relatively quick to install.

Slab-on-grade foundations are more common in warmer climates. They are also common in locales with expansive clay soils. It is important for the ground to have proper soil compaction prior to pouring a slab foundation so that cracking or settling will be minimized.


Potential Slab Advantages

Some claim that termite issues may be less of a concern with this type of foundation, because of a lack of wood supports and empty spaces leading from the ground to the house itself. Keep in mind, though, that if you have wood siding extending to the slab, those critters would have easy access to your new home.

In warmer climates, temperature extremes are rare, so there may be no need for heating ductwork underneath the flooring. Ground freezing in these locations would be unlikely, thus hopefully, minimizing the chances of the slab cracking.

slab foundation


CONS of Slab Foundations?

Actually, the drawbacks to slabs mirror the advantages of basement foundations.
Since the home is built on the ground with only the slab for protection, even moderate amounts of rainfall could potentially result in flooding.

With a basement foundation, options for future development of living space are numerous. But please understand that remodeling/expansion of a dwelling built on a slab would present multiple difficulties.


It is critical that you ask yourself: Do I want to allow for
future expansion?



Probably the biggest disadvantage to a slab foundation is its lack of access to your home's environmental systems. Either your electrical wiring conduits through the slab must be water-tight, or access must be available through the attic space.

Overhead pipes can be an invitation to disaster if they corrode or break....do you recall seeing any leaks in the ceiling of your elementary school or perhaps in a hotel? I remember well the numerous buckets strategically placed under broken piping in my school. What a mess!! Copper piping will corrode over time, and it also must be specially installed, or put into the building above the slab. In some places, piping is buried under the ground. But here again, unlike a basement where you could SEE the problem, you may have a significant leak and not know it until your water bill shows up a month or two later - with an astronomical amount of cash due! And then imagine how easy it would be for a plumber to dig up and locate the problem?


A SLAB STORY

I have a brother who lives in Florida and has a slab foundation. So far, the only crack he is aware of is in the garage - and has caused no major damage. However, he has, unfortunately, had the unpleasant experience of having the pipes break TWICE (in the
same location) in the slab. The second occurrence happened two years after the first. In this instance, he had a guarantee from the company (something I recommend you require if you have work done on your slab) that they would repair for free any future problem. He told me that this happened in a room that was carpeted, so the replacement cost was minimal. If it had been a tiled room instead, their costs could have been substantially higher.




You must weigh the advantages vs. the disadvantages carefully.

If you pay less upfront, might you be buried
in maintenance and repair costs later?




Are You Leaning Toward a Slab Foundation?



I would encourage you to
* research carefully,
* choose a method of slab building with a
good track record
* select a competent builder.

Don't plan on extensive future expansion, and be prepared
for some maintenance issues.

Also consider radon-resistant construction.
Forethought on the front-end may be a lifesaver later.

Be sure you find out the feasibility of building a slab foundation in your area by consulting with a structural engineer, and finding out what your local building code specifies.

Go from Slab Foundations to Foundation Options

Basement Foundation Options

Pier Foundation

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