There’s a lot of discussion about the two main types of foundation: slab and crawl space. Homeowners want to know which one lasts longer, which costs more, which is faster to finish, etc. – but like with most things to do with home improvement, it’s not a simple case of “which is better.
Rather, it’s a case of “which is better for you. Here’s what I mean:
Slab and crawl space foundations have pros and cons that are directly influenced by the kind of residence you’re building, the type of land, the climate, and much more. There’s no way to look at the pros and cons and simply sum up: “Ah, this is the superior option! because each one has advantages for specific situations.
But let’s stop being vague and get to the specifics of slab vs crawl space so you can decide which one is better for your new home!
“Perfection is not attainable, but if we chase perfection we can catch excellence. – Vince Lombardi
Main differences between slab and crawl space
Before we get into the actual pros and cons of slab and crawl space foundations, let’s go over some of the basic differences and similarities between them.
First, on the subject of slab vs crawl space cost: a slab foundation is generally cheaper since it requires way less materials to build. Naturally, the bigger the foundation the more expensive it will be, but slab remains cheaper than crawl spaces since the latter require more prep, labour and materials.
One major distinction though is your climate. Slab is much better suited for humid climates that are prone to floods, since they can be built to keep your home protected without compromising the foundation. Under these conditions, crawl space foundations can also flood and suffer water damage, which can compromise the structure of your home.
Having said that, crawl spaces are the preferred foundation for dry climates, since you don’t have to worry about moisture accumulation and mold growth in your foundation and it allows for more accessible plumbing and wiring.
As far as durability, they’re both on equal means. Assuming they are properly built and maintained throughout the years, they’re both expected to last up to 50 years.
Pros and cons of slab foundation
Now let’s get into some specifics of slab foundation. Slab is an excellent cost-effective solution that works well for most homes, having the notable advantage of being cheaper and perfect for humid climates – especially where floods can happen.
- Lower maintenance compared to crawl space
- Cheaper to build
- Construction is faster
- More energy efficient
- Doesn’t allow for storage under the house
- Plumbing and wiring is less accessible
- Additions and remodeling that alter floor plans are more difficult
- Utilities such as water heaters and HVAC units have to be installed elsewhere
Pros and cons of crawl space foundation
Crawl space foundations may cost more, but they offer a ton of advantages in return. They’re better suited for dry climates, allow for storage under the house and have much easier access to plumbing and wiring.
- Can offer storage under the house (great for HVAC units, furnaces, water heaters, etc.)
- Ideal for sloped lots where slab foundation wouldn’t be possible
- More accessible plumbing and electrical wiring
- Better for future additions and remodels
- Less energy efficient
- Prone to mold and mildew growth due to moisture
- More prep work and materials to build, and thus more expensive
- Maintenance is more important