This is the first in a series of videos on passive solar home construction, we begin with passive solar design basics, orienting the future house on the site to take full advantage of the free heat available from the sun while keeping it cool with natural shading in the summer.
A lot of builders recommend building a basement instead of a slab on grade mainly because of familiarity. Most don’t know how to build a slab on grade so they tend to steer you way from them simply for lack of knowledge and experience.
We have many pages on how to build a slab on grade, but this page addresses your dilemma specifically-
Part of the problem with calculating the cost difference between a basement and slab on grade is comparing them accurately. The numbers get skewed when you factor finished or unfinished basements, and what you calculate as the entire square footage of livable area. And more importantly, the sad reality is that very few basements are actually built properly and most end up moldy. You won’t get that with a slab.
The price to build a proper wall below grade is always more expensive than the cost to build above grade. It will be cheaper to build an energy efficient and healthy two story house above grade than the same quality house with one level below grade.