Building on slab vs. crawl space vs. basement? A Rundown on Advantages and Disadvantages
There are many different issues to consider regarding the choice of a basement, crawl space, or a slab foundation for your new home. In many parts of the country, full basements will be the norm, while others will have slab foundations, and still, others will have crawl spaces. One of the fundamental items is what do your neighbors have? If you plan a crawl space and all of your neighbors have basements, your house may be more difficult to sell unless you are prepared to lower the price. This is simply a value/price perception issue since many people feel that having a full basement gives them more room, even if it is used only for storage purposes. And of course, the potential is always there for someone to finish the basement and add extra living space at some time in the future.
Basements tend to be cooler, which can be important in hot climates. Basements add value to the home and provide more room, whether finished or not. Consumers can add a family room or use them for workshops and storage. Basements tend to be more expensive due to the footings and walls that must go below the frost line.
Drainage is essential for basements and crawl spaces – as you don’t want water in these areas. Slabs and crawl spaces are generally less expensive than full basements to build, especially when there is a great deal of rock to be removed. It is almost impossible to install a basement in some locations without the large expense of removing the solid rock.
Crawl spaces need to be insulated and protected from the elements in colder climates. Warm climates tend to have semi-open crawl spaces, a place for moisture, mold, and rodents to collect. Several health issues can be aggravated by moisture and mold. Homes with crawl spaces are difficult to sell if most other homes have full basements.
If you are the type of person who needs a lot of storage or likes to have a basement workspace, then a crawl space or a slab is definitely not the foundation you should consider.
Slabs are very popular in warm climates and also in areas with lots of rock. If there is no basement, the wiring and the plumbing will be in the walls or the ceilings. Space will also be required for the furnace and the water heater within the house. Water pipes must be insulated especially if they are in the attic.
One major advantage of slab foundations is that there is little chance for water and outside gases to leak in providing a healthier environment. Also, slabs are lower to the ground as a rule, and they have fewer steps to go up, which can be an advantage for older seniors or people who have difficulty climbing stairs.
There are several potential drawbacks to slab foundations. Any cracks can cause long-term problems and are more difficult to repair. Soil movement, tree roots can lead to cracks in the slab. Slab homes are also more prone to insect problems.