When buying or building a house, it can be difficult to decide which features are necessities and which are luxuries. Some features, such as a basement, might even have different pros and cons.
Considering the different benefits slab foundations and basements offer can help you make a choice that’s right for you.
One of the biggest benefits of having a basement is the amount of storage a basement space offers. Basements are often equal to the square foot size of the first floor of the home.
An unfinished basement can be used to store decorations, sports equipment or clothing for different seasons, or any other items that aren’t commonly used throughout the year.
Finished basements offer more storage options, and they can even be furnished and used as living spaces or even apartments.
Damage from Flooding
Because they’re located underground, basements can sometimes be located within an area of the water table that floods.
Older basements might develop weak spots that themselves leak when the water table is high, and this can cause flooding within the basement itself.
Flooding in a basement can lead to mold, pest infestations, and damaged items, and it can be expensive to drain a basement.
These issues can be avoided by carefully monitoring the basement and ensuring that any weak areas or cracks are fixed periodically.
A sump pump can also help to drain away excess water during bouts of rain, although many homeowners find that maintaining a sump pump can be a hassle.
Heating, Cooling, and Plumbing Placement
In homes with a basement, most of the heating, cooling, and plumbing necessities, including large items like the water heater and furnace, are housed in the basement.
In homes with a concrete slab, these items must be housed in the garage or the home itself, which can take up valuable storage space.
A slab can also make it more difficult to work on pipes or wires, as there isn’t as much ready access as there would be in a home with a basement.
Any ductwork will also need to be run through the ceiling of the home instead, as well. This means that the ductwork will need to be properly insulated, whereas ductwork that’s run through the basement needs less insulation.
Homes built on a slab generally have far fewer pest problems than homes built on a basement.
This is because the slab prevents easy access to the underside of the house, including wooden beams that pests such as termites prefer to nest in.
Slabs can also be chemically treated with pesticides before the home is built, which further increases the house’s pest resistance.
In areas that frequently see storms such as large thunderstorms, tornadoes, or hurricanes, basements can offer safety.
It’s recommended that people in areas that often see tornadoes, in particular, have a basement or large crawl space they can enter in case of a storm.
Staying in a basement during a storm can keep you much safer than staying above ground.
If you’re building a house, the cost between a basement and a concrete slab can be immense. Basements can cost, on average, about $10,000 more than a concrete slab.
This cost can go up if the basement needs to be dug out of a very rocky area.
Although a basement can add to the overall value of the home, it may not add as much as the initial cost of building the basement.
Basements are generally not valued at as high a price per square foot as the square footage above ground.
However, some people are willing to pay more for the storage options a basement offers, which can increase a home’s resale value.
If you’re building a home, how quickly you want your home can change whether you decide on a slab or a basement.
Because it’s smaller and generally thinner, a slab takes about seven days to dry, although many professionals recommend waiting 28 days before continuing to build.
A basement, on the other hand, needs at least 30 days of drying time, although some construction companies, depending on the temperature and humidity in the area, may only wait between two and three weeks before continuing to build.
Exact drying times can vary depending on how large the slab or basement is and what the weather is like, but slab foundations almost always require less drying time than basements.
While concrete slabs won’t ever flood, they can crack, and a crack can cause major structural damage not only to the slab but to the rest of the house.
Cracks are relatively uncommon, but they can be very costly, difficult, and time-consuming to fix if they do happen.
Cracks can be caused by a number of things, including large trees with roots that have grown too close to the foundation or freezing temperatures, which can cause the slab to contract and expand with the changing temperatures.
This is one reason why homes with basements are more common in colder areas. Basements tend to stand up to changing temperatures better and with less overall damage.
Any damage that does occur can usually be seen and promptly fixed. A crack in a slab, however, might go unnoticed for some time until it begins to affect the integrity of the home’s structure.
If your house is built on a foundation slab, it will be almost level with the ground.
This means that the house will have either only one or two steps leading to the entrances, or it may not have any steps at all.
A house with a basement, however, has a ground floor that’s slightly elevated. This means that houses with basements usually have three or more steps leading up to both the front and back doors.
Some people feel that a house with a basement, steps, and a small front or back porch is more attractive.
For some people, however, the steps can be an accessibility issue, making it harder for people with disabilities to enter the house.