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Pier and Beam vs. Concrete Slab: Which Foundation Is Best?

A construction team can build a home on two types of foundations. The placement of the house and what type of ground it will be on will determine which foundation is best. Explore the differences between a pier and beam and a concrete slab foundation.

Pier and Beam Foundations

This type of foundation uses piers driven into the ground that sits on top of stones and beams that help support the home being built. Imagine a house on stilts—that is much like a pier and beam foundation. This was used in the early 1960s and was the standard way of building a foundation because, while there was excavating equipment, there was no concrete pouring technology available yet.

This foundation works great if the house will lay on an uneven grade/hill or if the ground has the outcome of potential flooding. While this foundation is easy to install and less expensive to repair, they are prone to termites and rodents and can deteriorate over time. A home will not shift on a pier and beam foundation, but it can be a costly installation.

Concrete Slab Foundations

Also known as a slab-on-grade, the concrete slab is today’s most commonly used foundation. It sits directly on the ground and is quick and cheap to construct. Plumbing and other pipes are well-insulated in the concrete. This type of foundation is a good choice for your home if you live in a climate that experiences colder weather.

A construction team will need to utilize a foundation drill rig to start the concrete slab process, but it does not require the same level of expertise that a pier and beam foundation would. It is important to note that if there is a high level of moisture in the ground or the soil is prone to shifting, the foundation will settle, causing it to crack and shrink. Repairs are costly for concrete because you risk needing to replace the entire foundation. However, if your home is on a level surface, it should not require any future repairs.

Which Is Best?

In general, a concrete slab is the best foundation for your home. Pier and beam structures are only used in instances where the ground is uneven or in cases where the soil is shifty. Concrete slabs also put less of a time constraint on the construction team, making it the best logical choice.

Always consult with your clients and ensure you are building the home under their jurisdiction and go over the advantages and disadvantages of each structure so they can make the best decision for their future home. Offer your expert opinion and remind them that the foundation is the pillar that keeps their home standing. It is one of the more important decisions that will need to be made when building a home.

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Written by Logan Voss

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