Basement Vs. Slab Foundation

24 Replies

I plan to do a 6 month live in BRRRR and a slab foundation home has come to my attention off market that will be available soon. I am currently located in Davenport Iowa, and have personally never lived in a slab foundation home.

With the slab I won't have to worry about water in the basement or mold, but there is less  storage and/or finish-able space.  I understand that there is also risk involved with the plumbing  a pipe encased in concrete will be harder to fix/replace than one in the ceiling of a basement or in a crawlspace. 


The home was built in the early 1950's that avoids galvanized plumbing what else should I be worried about?

What impact should I expect the lack of a basement have on property value/rent value? How much is unfinished basement space worth on an appraisal?

Does anyone have positive/negative experience they would be willing to share?

Are there any other pros or cons that I should be considering?

Hey @Jared Stroebele I actually just purchased a flip a couple of months ago that was on a slab. I can tell you that it will be probably harder to sell for me because of lack of storage, but that is why I got creative with built-ins and things like that. As far as plumbing goes, it depends on how much there is. For my house there wasn't a whole lot of plumbing because it was smaller, but it needed to be all replaced and it cost me around $2000. The water meter was also located below grade in the slab and that had to be brought above grade in order to pass inspection.

If its for a rental, i love the slab foundation.  Ive never had issues renting one out, and basements here in the midwest are 99% of time iffy at best.  I have looked at 50 homes in the past 2 months, and ruled our 75% of them for the basement alone.

@Joseph Ziolkowski thanks for the info.  It is good to know even if all the plumbing needs replacing it won't kill the budget.  The house appears to have a large one car garage and an attic that may be available for additional storage.  I'll be walking through early next week hopefully get a better feel for place.  

@Alex Bock No not in Ridgeview though I have been meaning to take a look at that neighborhood. The new construction in there might add some value to the older parts of that area (or I could be off base). There is also FourKids LLC doing a nice looking rent to own in there on Pine (I want to meet them), and there is that possible foreclosure on Volquardsen that I was going to follow up on and see what happened to it.

Sounds like slab foundations should not worry me with rentals but I should be aware that the pool of people willing to buy the home should I decide to resale may be smaller.

Thanks for the advice and input everyone.  In many of the homes I have looked at the basement was a problem area. I think pursuing a slab foundation home may turn out to be a good idea. 

I always prefer slab over crawl for my rentals.  You avoid some major potential financial problems with termites, joist repair, piers, mold, moisture,etc.  give me a slab home all day.   Of course this assumes the slab is nice and stable with minimal cracking.

In cold climates you want to make sure the deepened perimeter of the slab is below the frost line so the expansion of frozen soil doesn't heave the building up, but if it has been fine since the 50's you should be ok. I'm not sure how you would check that now anyway other than taking a shovel out there

@Sean Walton good thought.  I would guess if there is not much cracking going on the perimeter is below the frost line.  It might be an interesting line of questioning for an inspector.  If the deepened perimeter of the slab is NOT below the frost line what problems would that cause? 

@Jared Stroebele  I would consult with a local builder or architect but my understanding is that it could cause cracking of the slab. If it heaves on one side of the house and not the other it could cause the floors to slope. The good news is climate change is reducing the likelihood of frost causing problems.

@Deanna McCormick Thanks for the advice I plan to do sewer line inspection on any property I purchase. I would rather know about a problem and be able to plan accordingly than stick my head in the sand. 

The city of Davenport also has a Sewer Lateral Repair Grant Program to assist homeowners with costly sewer lateral repairs. The program funds eligible repairs up to $10,000. Payment of a $500 deductible is required to participate in the program.  I will have to make sure that there are not eligibility restrictions but it sounds like a good deal. City of Davenport Iowa Sewer Lateral Repair Grant

Being aware of city programs other potential buyers are not could very well give me a edge, and with my inexperience and comparatively low cash levels I need every advantage. 

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