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.