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Old 07-10-2011, 01:55 PM   #1
JES
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Default Home Builders - Slab vs. Pier & Beam

I grew up in a house that was built on slab, wife and I are planning our new home and I was wondering if I could get input from the GS braintrust on the pro's and con's of each.

Thanks.
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Old 07-10-2011, 02:32 PM   #2
arrowdynamic
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Slab is less expensive to pour but more expensive to repair.
P&B is great for future repairs and easier to level.
Keep foundation watered. Clay expands when it gets wet and contracts when it gets dry causing slabs to crack. Check with county extension agent about the type of soil in your area.
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Old 07-10-2011, 03:10 PM   #3
mikemorvan
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It's getting harder and harder to find good contractors that know how to do a pier and beam foundation. Consider it carefully.
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Old 07-10-2011, 03:16 PM   #4
Mudslinger
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Me personally, I would always do a slab. Besides it does not matter how much room is underneath the house on a P&B, I am too claustrophobic to crawl underneath one!
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Old 07-10-2011, 03:21 PM   #5
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i wouldnt build a pier and beam unless absolutely necessary.
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Old 07-10-2011, 03:25 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mudslinger View Post
Me personally, I would always do a slab. Besides it does not matter how much room is underneath the house on a P&B, I am too claustrophobic to crawl underneath one!
Plus there's spiders and snakes under there!! I jut like the sound of walking in a P&B house. Told my wife I wanted to look into how an 1850's house was built in Texas and try and match that, she wasn't very excited about my idea to say the least...
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Old 07-10-2011, 03:27 PM   #7
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I'd go slab and then implement a simple slab maintenance routine. You can google concrete slab maintenance and see the different options for maintenance.
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Old 07-10-2011, 03:27 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JES View Post
Plus there's spiders and snakes under there!! I jut like the sound of walking in a P&B house. Told my wife I wanted to look into how an 1850's house was built in Texas and try and match that, she wasn't very excited about my idea to say the least...


Hire a real drunken/blind/crappy wood floor installer and you can get the same effect for reeeeeel cheep.

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Old 07-10-2011, 03:28 PM   #9
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One other thing. The foundation is about the only thing that's cheaper with a pier and beam. The framing material, frame labor, etc. is mo' money. Check it ALL out very carefully.
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Old 07-10-2011, 03:59 PM   #10
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I have this discussion regularly with new clients. Pier and beam is far superior to slab on grade, especially in N Texas due to our expansive soils. It is considerably more expensive, especially depending on the home you intend to build. There are many variables to consider that I don't have all the info to help more.

One way to look at is this-

Slab on grade- say a 2500sf slab at $5.00 psf = $12,500. Slab is down, ready to set bottom plate and wall up.

P&B- Same 2500sf. All wags w/o more info.

Piers - $7500
Floor system /trusses / subfloor - $7000
Carpenter labor to set floor system subfloor - $6250

$20,750 to get to setting plates and walling up.

Once again, there are so many variables to give any good advice, but I can tell you that it will typically add $5- $8 per sf to the build cost. A typical slab is in that range too, so it is pretty close to say it would double your foundation cost.

If you go with P&B make sure your builders trades are experienced with P&B, there are differences in the way certain things are done, plumbing, electrical, mechanical, insulation etc.
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Old 07-10-2011, 04:14 PM   #11
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I would never build a home on pier and beam, too many issues with them. Get an engineered slab poured with post tension cables and possibly piers if the soil calls for it. With proper soil moisture, a slab will float as a unit and you won't have the issues with doors not opening and leveling issues. I have been a home builder for the last 10+ years and it is just not worth it to do pier and beam.
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Old 07-10-2011, 04:14 PM   #12
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Slab cost vary with terrian, The steeper the slope the more dirt work and concrete. I personally built a P&B. Not because of price but I prefer the slight give that a P&B gives you compared to hard concrete. I did 90% of the labor on the house myself or volunteer. P&B gave me the time to do my plumbing on my schedule without having a contractor waiting on me. I was not going to tackle a 2700 ft slab with volunteer labor.
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Old 07-10-2011, 05:12 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Extremebowman View Post
I have this discussion regularly with new clients. Pier and beam is far superior to slab on grade, especially in N Texas due to our expansive soils......

If you go with P&B make sure your builders trades are experienced with P&B, there are differences in the way certain things are done, plumbing, electrical, mechanical, insulation etc.

this also applies to the Houston area.

very informative post, he gets it


Slabs are used because they are cheaper, not better.
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Old 07-10-2011, 05:35 PM   #14
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pier and beam for me.

slabs are cheaper, not better.

I've got a $200 fluid leveler and a bottle jack so I can repair anything on the foundation in about an hour....no shovel required!
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Old 07-10-2011, 05:46 PM   #15
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Here in E. Texas there are a lot of houses that have been around for 50 to 75 years that are on P&B. P&B has been around lots longer!! ( I own a slab).
I think the main thing is the type of soil you're going to build on.
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Old 07-10-2011, 06:05 PM   #16
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When I build it will be pier and beam. I just like them
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Old 07-10-2011, 11:00 PM   #17
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I have lived in P&B houses my whole life except for 4 years. During that 4 years I had back pains the entire time. When I built the log house we live in now I built it on P&B. There is a 16" beam all the way around the house with access from the out side as well as from the inside in a closet. I had 12 yds. of washed smooth pea gravel dumped inside the beams and spread out. Then when the floor was framed I installed lights before decking. We've lived here 12 years now and it is as clean under the house as the day we built it. My wife stores her canned goods under there. It is 24" high on the high side and 50" high on the low side. When I did the plimbing it was comfortable and easy to do it and all of it is easily accessable still. No worries of termites or other bugs, snakes or mice as it is closed up tight. It was about 15% more than a slab though. I didn't mind as it was for MY house. I wouldn't have it any other way.

Remember, houses on slabs are a termites best friend.
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Old 07-10-2011, 11:52 PM   #18
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You can ask 100 differnt builders and get 150 different answers. I build a few house a yr too on my time off from the FD. The P&B will be more friendly for repair if you have to but, initially more cost. I don't know enough guys whre I am that I would feel comfortable doing them. All mine are on slabs with piers drilled through 2 soil changes or until bed rock is hit. We put 5/8" steel in the beams and 3/8" through the remainder of the slab. Also make sure that the beam steel is not tied into the pier steel and that ALL the dirt is cleaned of the piers before the concrete starts going down the ditches. I did see one post on post tension which I hate. Many city codes have went to making the slabs be set by a engineer(mostof which wouldnt know how to pour concrete if it depended on their life) IMO an engineered plan is worth less than the paper is printed on. I have done 1 post tension slab and it will also be my last! They are designed to break. It breaks on one side, tension on the cables pulls the break back together and usually(the one I did) breaks it somewhere else. If you read the fine print there is always some way for the engineer to get out of the warranty/gaurantee. Mostly entire lot but be level with less than 5% grade over the entire lot. How many places can you get that on? If you do achieve it, it wont be anymore after the first rain. The only guarantee on concrete in Texas, no matter if slab or pier and beam is that it will get hard and crack! Again, I am just giving my opinions and am by no means stepping on others toes who do it a different way. I'm sure whichever way you do it works for you as mine does for me. Good luck with whatever you decide!
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Old 07-11-2011, 01:17 AM   #19
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Quote:
Originally Posted by hweissert View Post
You can ask 100 differnt builders and get 150 different answers.
This is probably your most accurate answer, lol. I think you should build it how you want, and what you would be comfortable with. I agree w/ hw- you'll get so many different answers that you'll be more confused in the end, lol.
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