What is a Slab Basement and Do You Need One?

Slab Basement

Regardless of whether you are building a new home, or you are buying an existing home, the type of foundation a house has is an important consideration. While some types of foundation will suit one person, others will prefer another option. Each type of foundation and basement has its own pros and cons, and these need careful consideration. One of the options is a slab basement. Here is an overview of what a slab basement is and its pros and cons compared to the other options.

What is a Slab Basement?

It is important to understand exactly what a slab basement is before deciding if you home needs one and it is the right choice for you. According to Hunker, a slab basement is a solid slab of concrete used as a foundation below the house, rather than having a full basement or a crawlspace. Foundations are dug two to three feet below the house around the base of the walls and sometimes under the entire house. This is then filled with concrete. Prior to having the slab basement put in place, it is important to have all sewer and electrical lines put in place and to have the pipes embedded into the concrete.

What Are the Other Options?

Reinbrecht homes says that there are three types of basements and foundations. Other than slab basements, your other options are:

  • Crawlspace – These have a shallow basement that is not deep enough to stand up but they are deep enough for you to crawl below your home. This gives you access to wiring, ductwork, and piping. This means it is easier if you need to make upgrades or repairs in the future. The ground floor of your home will feel warmer than a house built on a slab. On the downside, crawlspaces are prone to moisture and they offer little protection from storms.
  • Basement foundations – These have foundations that create a room, or rooms, that are deep enough to stand inside. These are the most expensive type of home foundation if you are building a house, but they can also add the most value to the home if you transform the basement into a useable space. The fact that you can use the basement as extra living space, storage space, or as a workroom is one of the biggest advantages. They also give you the best access to wiring and piping, and they offer greater storm protection. The downsides other than the expense are the risks of flooding and the lack of natural light.

Do You Get a Choice of Basement?

If you are having a home built from scratch, then you can usually choose the type of foundation in your home. Therefore, you can choose between a slab, crawlspace or full basement. The cost and your personal needs will probably influence your decision, but your builder may also advise you in terms of what is suitable for the type of ground and the area. When you are buying an existing home, you have the option to only look at homes built with certain foundations. However, you may find that in some areas nearly all homes are built on slab foundations while in other areas, full basements are more common.

The Advantages of Slab Basements

There are both advantages and disadvantages to slab basements, says Investopedia. Some of the advantages of a slab basement are:

  • The simplest option – A slab basement is the simplest option if you are having a house built from scratch. It takes less preparation and drying time than other types of foundations and basements. It is also quicker and easier for the builders to complete.
  • Lowest cost – It is also the lowest cost option, which is a significant factor in many people’s decisions when building a house. This is because fewer materials are needed, and the process is completed much faster than the other options, so labor costs are reduced.
  • Reduces flooding risk – As there is no space below the house, there is a reduced risk of flooding.
  • Termite protection – Houses with full basements are more prone to termite infestations as they access through the ground.
  • Good for mobility issues -The ground floor of a home built on a slab foundation is closer to the floor, so there are fewer steps needed to get into the property.

The Disadvantages of Slab Basements

Slab basements also have some disadvantages. These include the following:

  • Extra insulation – The pipes and wiring running under your home will need extra insulation as they can become hot.
  • Colder ground floor – As the house is built directly onto a concrete slab, there is little insulation below the house, and it will feel colder. Therefore, you may spend more on heating in the future.
  • Less aesthetic appeal – Some people find houses built on slab foundations less aesthetically pleasing.
  • No extra living space – If you opt for a house on a slab foundation, you do not have the same options to extend your living space into the basement in the future or to create the basement into a usable space, such as a workshop.

The Final Verdict – Does Your Home Need a Slab Basement?

All houses need some sort of foundation, whether this is a slab foundation, a crawlspace or a basement. If you are having a house built, then you might choose to have a slab basement if you are trying to keep the costs to a minimum, or if you want to avoid having steps into your home. There are also other benefits to this type of flooring. However, if you want to access below your home or you would like the option to increase the floor space of your home in the future, then a full basement is a better option. If you are buying an existing home, you may find that those that are built on slab foundations are cheaper than those with a basement.

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