There are commonly two types of foundations – Pier and Beam and Slab. A pier and beam foundation is one where the base of the structure is held up by support beams and piers. A slab foundation is one where the structure sits right atop the concrete that is poured into the ground. Many new home builders, particularly production builders, use the latter style. So, the question begs, why use one over the other? The simple answer is time and cost. The concrete slab foundation typically costs less, and forming can be relatively easy. As they say, time is money. Creation of a pier and beam foundation requires a bit more planning, which can potentially increase your installation costs. However, these are not the only reasons, just the most common ones.
Repair Costs Associated with Slab Foundations
Although cost effective, slab foundations can be a bit more problematic and costly for the owner of the home. Piping (such as the gas line and water lines) are generally installed within the foundation. Repairs to these lines could prove to be challenging, whereas pier and beam foundations are a lot more accessible via their crawlspace. Sometimes water or gas line issues could be the result of shifting, or cracking of the slab. Foundation settling is normal. However, severe settling can cause very expensive damage. The soil or ground that a home is built on can be linked to how well the foundation holds. For example, clay (there are various types) tends to contract and expand with moisture. In severe weather (such as a drought), severe contraction/expansion can result in a cracked or broken foundation. A broken or cracked foundation can potentially be much more expensive to fix in a slab foundation, than that of pier and beam.
As scary as all this sounds, there are preventative measures. Consult a foundation expert on how to best care for your particular foundation. By maintaining and monitoring your foundation properly, you could catch any issues before the costs go through the roof (no pun intended).