Last week one of my building science Heros was in Austin speaking about High Performance Homes. If you’ve never seen Mark LaLiberte speak you are really missing out. I first heard him speak about Building Science in 2002 when I was working in Portland, OR. The mold scare was just breaking into the national news scene and I was working for a luxury production builder as their Production Manager. I was building 150 homes a year with 7 Project Managers and 3 Service guys and the mold scare hit us hard. Our company actually bought back a home from someone who had mold in their walls and several other houses had major re-construction to deal with mold. We were building houses like we always had, but weren’t really thinking about long term durability or the science behind moisture flows. One thing I learned from Mark back in 2002 was that 80% of building failures are due to water issues so you’d better become an expert as a builder at controlling water and it’s forms/movements.
Anyhow, the point of this post is that I talked Mark into visiting one of my job sites on his way to the Airport and I made this quick video as we talked on site about foundations.
So, now that you’ve seen the video here my pro/con list for Slab & Pier/Beam.
CONCRETE SLAB FOUNDATIONS:
1. No water issues under your house
2. No bugs/rodents under your house
3. No floor framing costs – Option to do stained/polished concrete at your finished floor
4. No frozen pipe issues
1. Hard to correct plumbing issues & hard to remodel plumbing in the future
2. Hard to re-level the house if there are movement issues
3. No insulation at the floor line and concrete is a huge thermal sink
4. I think concrete floors are hard on your knees & joints
PEIR & BEAM FOUNDATIONS:
1. Easy to remodel & move plumbing
2. Easy to add wiring or phone/cable lines under the house
3. Insulation under the floor is really good. (Spray foam please)
4. Wood framing provides some “give” when you walk
5. Relatively easy to re-level the house if movement occurs
1. Can have water issues in the crawls space depending on your grades.
2. Need to be vigilant about keeping bugs & rodents out of your crawlspace
3. Possibly more expensive flooring costs with framing & hardwoods
4. Possible pipe freeze issues
Ok, so do we have a clear winner? No not really. It really depends on your site conditions to determine what type of foundation is best for your lot. All things being equal I lean towards pier/beam foundations but that is certainly not a one-foundation-fits-all recommendation. Talk with your engineer and your builder, see if you can determine how older houses in your area have performed. -Matt Risinger