What are the pros and cons of building a house on a slab on grade foundation?

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What are the pros and cons of building a house on a slab on grade foundation?

Debra Kroening Jan. 5, 2022Last updated: Jan. 5, 2022

We live in an area where just about every home is built on a basement. Trying to embrace the idea of a slab for our new build but here are my concerns that I don't see addressed anywhere. Long term sustainability of the house. 100 or more years from now will the slab still be in tact? What happens if the slab cracks and part of the house tilts? Here you have lots of old houses on basements that are still standing. With a basements you can redo basement walls, easily get to plumbing etc. With a slab what happens when a pipe breaks in the slab? How can you even find leaks? What if the next owners want to remodel, how do you run new plumbing, in floor heating etc? 

Responses (6)

Debra Kroening
Debra Kroening Jan. 6, 2022, 5:28 p.m.

Mike, I do agree that most new houses are poorly designed which then requires remodeling in the near future. Thank you for your insight. I just don't want this house to be a problem in the future to a homeowner long after I'm gone. 

Daniel curbless shower is a must! Extreme planning and attention to details seems to be the answer. 

The trick will be getting trades who can accomplish this properly. Most people around here have never been inside a house built on a slab. I have only been in one in my entire life.

Debra Kroening
Debra Kroening Jan. 6, 2022, 5:40 p.m.

Oh one more point I wanted to mention. Property taxes. This new house will literally be located in the highest property taxed area of the U.S. By eliminating the basement we need to add an addtional 700 sqft to the house (approx). Here unfinished basements are not taxed. More liveable sqft means higher taxes! Did some rough calculations and spread out over 20 years it would probably be cheaper to do the slab but without exact quotes its hard to say. It might be a wash. I never see conversations about the additional sqft that is needed to be added the living area to compensate the for lack of a basement. Higher cost to build and higher taxes forever. Thoughts?

Mike Reynolds Jan. 7, 2022, 1:41 p.m.

No idea on that Debra, sorry. Municipal requirements and tax assessments can vary substantially so I can't help much there. I get the idea of going with a basement for urban infill building where you may have height restrictions and the square footage is needed, but it has always seemed a waste to me to build an entire basement to leave empty except for storing a few things. As for finding a quality installer, I can't see that being a problem. Every basement floor is poured and polished and is sloped towards drains, so a slab is really no different that that.