Pros and Cons; Crawl Space vs Slab Construction in the Southeast

Regardless of what the new contruction sales agent says, track homes are built with slab construction because it is much less expensive than  those built on a crawl space.  That doesn’t make it bad, it’s just that there are pros and cons of both.  Knowing the issues with crawl spaces can keep you one step ahead. 

 Slabs are better in that you don’t have to worry about moisture issues that can come up with crawl spaces.  Depending on site prep mostly, the way the site slopes away from the home,  your crawlspace could have a high moisture content, resulting in several problems.  Cupped floor boards, mildew, even rotting floor members can result if the moisture content under your home is too high.  This usually results from rain runoff collecting around or under the home.  The outside air humidity is already very high here in Charleston, so add just a little extra water, and the humidity is too high.  www.crawlspaces.org does an excellent job explaining the problems, and the most up to date remedies.  I’ll let you get the technical stuff here.  I’m a real estate agent, not a crawlspace expert, so my perspective is more from a real estate and home ownership viewpoint. 

There are a few reasons that make crawl spaces better.  Most importantly, the crawl space provides more curb appeal.  When you look at the house from the street, it sits up off the ground a few feet and has a more textured appearance.  Secondly, the home will be more comfortable in the winter because hot air rises, and the heat is coming from the floor, not the ceiling.  With a crawlspace, making changes to plumbing and electrical are easier, because the first floor is accessible from underneath.  Since our winters are fairly mild and short, this doesn’t come into play to a very large extent. 

Slabs require less maintenance, and make infestation very unlikely.  Having said that, keep an eye on any trim near the ground.  And you’ll want to make sure to keep your grass and bushes away from the house.  Brick moulding and door jambs nearer to the ground tends to rot quickly, so keep an extra coat or two of paint on any wood near the ground.  This holds true for both types of construction, but is more of an issue with slab homes. 

You can get some of the best of both worlds with an elevated slab.  You still have the air conditioning vents in the ceiling, but you have some elevation for curb appeal without the moisture and maintenance issues.  An elevated slab has a block wall that is then filled in with dirt, with a layer of concrete over the dirt. 

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6 responses to “Pros and Cons; Crawl Space vs Slab Construction in the Southeast

  1. James J. Adams

    Does anyone ever put in a full basement in Charleston? They don’t cost that much more, provide extra room for workshops and play areas and under the right circumstances can be a safe place during a tornado warning.

  2. If you dig down a few feet here in Charleston, you hit water. There are a few homes scattered here and there with basements, but no, genereally they don’t work. I’m not sure if you remember trying to dig a foxhole when you were at Parris Island, but you probably hit water. We have FROG’s here, which for you Northerners that don’t know what a FROG is, stands for Finished Room Over Garage.

  3. Jim, I agree that the crawl space look is more pleasing aesthetically. I much prefer it to a plain (unelevated) slab. And, hey, I’m a northerner who’s always known what a FROG is. It was harder getting used to the mid-Atlantic’s “rambler”, which of course to a westerner has always been a “ranch.” I plan to return to Charleston in September for a more serious, focused search. Off to England for a month starting July 6. Linda Wendt

  4. Hi ,

    Thanks for writing such an interesting article. It’s really good to know about the real estate and home decoration and renovation in detail.Dallas Foundation Repair.is a referral based, family owned company, that has been doing business in the Dallas / Fort Worth area since 1982 and we are proud to say that we have one of the best reputations in the industry. We can boast this because we know what it means to serve our customers and are blessed with an outstanding crew, most of which have been with us for 10-15 years. As should be expected of any company, you will find that we will always be on time; always does what we say we will do, keep it as simple as possible, provide a fair price, and stand behind our work. We will provide you and your home with the attention it needs and do so with the utmost respect and integrity. We thank you for choosing Alpha Foundation Repair.

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    • I appreciate your post. Our home was worked on by Mount Valley Foundation Repair in Columbia, SC with what was supposed to be a transferable lifetime warranty. The crack in the floor of the garage that was repaired is getting wider again. My wife called to ask for help and according to her, they blew her off. I haven’t had a chance to deal with it yet as we aren’t selling our home or anything. I hope they come through.

  5. From a real estate agents view, do you find it hard to resell homes on slabs? I’m not sure if it depends on the area but I live in Tennessee. I’ve heard that some people wouldn’t buy a home simply because of that reason. What’s your take?

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