• Building Comparison: Houses on Piers Versus Houses on Slabs

    1 Dec, 2014 | 11,512 views

    There are so many things to consider when choosing a new home to purchase or beginning a new construction project, it’s not always easy to give each choice the attention it deserves. While some ill-advised decisions will only have minor repercussions in terms of home building or purchasing, some poor choices can have far-reaching implications.

    One of these vitally important decisions is the type of foundation for your new home, whether it be in the conceptual building phase or an existing structure you’re thinking of buying. While there are several types of foundations, there are also a host of factors which will determine what kind is best suited to your particular circumstances. This will include ground elevation. soil type and the structure which the foundation supports. When trying to decide between houses on piers or houses on slabs, it’s best to have at least a minimal understanding of these two foundation types.

    Houses on Piers: Pros and Cons It’s not uncommon for the average homeowner to face a fair bit of confusion when confronted with houses on piers. While they may bear a passing resemblance to those erected on piles, there is actually a substantial difference between piles and houses on piers. Where pile foundations are constructed by boring holes into the ground down to the bedrock to allow for load support, piers are supported at the surface of the ground by a separate footing. Where piles are used most often to create a stable foundation on unstable soil, piers are designed only to raise the elevation of the structure in relation to the ground level.

    • Pros: In flood-prone areas or those in which excessive moisture is an issue, raised foundations and houses on piers can provide necessary airflow which prevents moisture damage. The elevation of the piers can keep the first level of the home from being reached by high water in a flood zone. In areas where flooding is not a serious concern, pier and beam foundations allow access to the space beneath subfloors for duct work, wiring and plumbing. Future remodelling may be easier due to this ease of access, as can some foundation repair projects in the event of damage. Properties with steep grades or other topographical traits which present a complication for new construction may not need extensive retaining wall work or levelling. This can make building a new home on a slightly impractical piece of property a bit more feasible.
    • Cons: Because houses on piers take longer to build and are typically more labour intensive than those of comparable size on slabs or other foundation types, they also tend to be more expensive to construct. During colder seasons in areas with less temperate climates, pipes may be more likely to freeze and floor surfaces can easily become cold to the touch. Sagging and creaking floors are not uncommon in houses built on piers. For residents or visitors with compromised mobility, climbing stairs to gain entry to your home may present a challenge.

    Houses on Slabs: Pros and Cons When the foundation of a home is built directly upon the surface of the ground, with no intervening space between the home and the soil, this is known as a slab foundation. Houses on slabs are a quite common sight, and they do come with some benefits. Slab foundations may also be accompanied by some drawbacks, however, so it’s best to learn a bit about this foundation type before making a final purchasing or building decision.

    • Pros: Houses on slabs feature the simplest and fastest type of foundation to build in most cases, so they tend to be a bit less expensive than those on more complicated options. Pipes for plumbing are installed inside the slab, so won’t freeze in areas prone to low temperatures.
    • Cons: One of the primary concerns about houses on slabs happens to be the opposite side of a “pro” coin: plumbing is installed within the floor, so it’s more difficult and more expensive to perform repairs. Slab foundations can be prone to cracking, and houses on slabs are more expensive to repair if the foundation should fail.

    Even the best foundation choice for the type of house you’re considering and the quality of soil upon which it is built should be carefully evaluated before purchase, or during the construction phase. A visit from a professional building inspection company can help you to make sure your new investment is financially and structurally sound, so you’re able to make a more informed choice for your family.

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