Crawl Space, Basement or Slab: Does It Matter?

This is a guest post from Cathy Habas

If you’re in the market for a new home, you may be wondering whether there is an advantage to having one type of foundation versus another. There are three foundations that you’ll encounter time and again: basements, crawl spaces and slabs. Determining which one is right for you largely depends on your budget and preferences. Here’s a run-down of the practical differences:

Slab Foundations

Slab foundations are simply thick concrete rectangles. The house rests directly on top of the slab. According to Houston Foundation Repair professionals, this foundation is most commonly found in very rocky climates where digging a basement, or even preparing a site for a crawl space, is difficult. Slabs are the cheapest foundations to install, but high-quality concrete and a smart curing approach should be used to ensure the concrete is as strong as possible and is not prone to cracking.

Fortunately, slab foundations are also relatively easy to repair if cracked, which can happen if the ground underneath the home shifts and settles. Material is pumped under the slab until it is raised and level.

Pipes, ducts and wires that one might normally find underneath a home are instead stored in the walls or ceilings of homes with slab foundations.

Crawl Spaces

Crawl spaces are an attractive but affordable option that lift the home off the ground anywhere from about two to four feet. Crawl spaces provide access to plumbing, air ducts and electrical wires, but reaching these utilities is not always easy. Most homeowners with crawl spaces prefer to hire professionals rather than go under the house themselves.

Crawl space maintenance includes installing a moisture barrier on the ground and insulating water pipes and air ducts. Checking for the presence of rodents can also help you take swift action before wires or other materials become chewed and damaged.

A crawl space is not an appropriate storm shelter.


Basements are appealing for anyone who lives in an area where tornadoes are a routine threat. Basements come in a variety of designs, and can be luxurious living areas or plain, concrete storage areas.

This type of foundation is the most expensive due to the amount of site prep and the materials needed to create the basement. Finished basements add much more resale value to the home, as do walkout basements. Flooding is a potential problem with basement foundations, and they should be professionally waterproofed to avoid leaks, mold and mildew.

Basements also offer easy access to plumbing, HVAC ducts and electrical wires, keeping them frost-free and away from rodents. It’s also an ideal area to be in during the heat of summer, as basements tend to stay cool, and is a recommended shelter during a tornado.

Which Option Is Best?

Keep in mind your overall budget, the local weather and environmental conditions (such as rocky ground or potential for severe storms) and how easily you want to be able to access utilities. Although each type of foundation has its pros and cons, there is no must-have variety.

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