Common for many buildings in North Carolina, a slab foundation is a perfect choice for anyone looking to build a new home. These types of foundations are easy on your budget and they’re also pretty easy to build. The only downside to slabs is that you won’t have a basement or a crawl space. Still, that doesn’t mean that you should avoid them. Some homeowners simply don’t need storage space.
Either way, there’s much more to concrete slabs than lying atop of a foundation. Builders use them for constructing floors. But apart from that, you can implement them as exterior patios, paths, and other surface areas that can improve the look of your building.
Let’s take a closer look at all the important details about this type of foundation. From what concrete slabs are to how construction teams build them, we’ll explore all their pros and cons.
What Is a Slab Foundation?
The process of building a home can be long and complex. However, it’s a good idea for everyone to at least understand the basics of it. As such, the initial stages include digging a hole in the ground and pouring the footing to withstand the weight of the structure above it. After that, builders install the concrete slab to sit on the groundwork.
The slab is a construction element that combines concrete and steel rods. The rods are there to reinforce the structure, making it more robust and resilient. Four to eight inches thick in most cases, the slab’s edges are even bulkier in order to further increase its durability. The builders pour the concrete all-in-one, meaning that it’s a monolithic structure (of one stone).
Like all other concrete compositions, the slab needs time to cure. Unfortunately, the curing process can take up to 28 days, depending on the climate. But after a day or two, the builders can already remove the forms the slab was poured into. After a week, the concrete will be firm enough for them to walk over and work on.
Building a Slab Foundation
Apart from being affordable, slabs are rather easy to install. Moreover, the construction team needs little preparation before the actual process begins. Below, we’ll describe how professionals build the slab in nine steps.
- First, the builders will determine the width and length of the foundation. They will depend on the floor plans and the design of the structure above it, as well as the surrounding ground conditions. In ideal circumstances, the foundation will have the same dimensions as the building that will sit over it.
- After measuring the width and length of the foundation, the construction team will begin to prepare the ground. They will remove all rocks, branches, and roots, making sure there is no unnecessary junk that can endanger the structure of the slab foundation.
- Next up, it will be time to frame the concrete slab with planks. To make the whole deal easier, the team will use pre-made 2 by 12-inch boards.
- After framing the slab area, the builders will use rakes and other garden tools to make the ground as flat as possible.
- Once the ground is sufficiently flat, it will be necessary to dig footings inside the slab area. The footing is the layer beneath the slab which builders usually fill with sand and different types of soil. It holds the weight of the building above it.
- The team will then use a jack or a tamper to compact the mixture of soil and sand in the footings. This will bring the molecules of dirt closer together, making them tight and ready to hold the weight of the house.
- Afterward, it will be necessary to push rebar pins and stakes into the footing, tying them together.
- The next step is to pour the mixture of mortar and sand into the footings. It needs to cover the whole foundation and dry. Don’t worry — this won’t take long.
- Finally, it will be time to pour down the concrete for the slab. It’s an all-in-one process. This means that they’ll do it in one take, making the structure monolithic. They might also add post-tension cables and steel rods to increase the strength and durability.
Benefits of Slab Foundations
Here are five main pros of concrete slabs:
- Budget-friendly: Both the materials and labor are inexpensive, requiring little to no maintenance.
- Simple to build: They won’t hold back the overall construction process.
- Pest and mold-free: Concrete slab encloses your home from its lower side, leaving no openings for rodents or mold to get inside.
- Easy to extend: In case you want to extend your home, it will be easy to expand the slab with some professional help.
- Long-lasting: Concrete slabs are durable and can last more than 100 years if the construction team does its job properly.
Disadvantages of Slab Foundations
Like every construction element, slabs have their cons too. Here are three of them:
- No basement or crawl space: Although not a negative for some homeowners, the lack of space beneath your home means no storage room. Also, the ventilation will need to be on the walls or in the attic.
- Plumbing problems: In case you have problems with your plumbing, the repair team will need to jackhammer through the concrete slab to reach the pipes underneath your home.
- Concrete cracks: Cold weather and high humidity can cause fractures in the concrete. Hence, you’ll need to water the slab to maintain it in perfect state.
In case you’re dealing with a moderate budget, a concrete slab foundation will be the perfect choice for you and your home. The building cost is low and the whole process is quick and simple. Even if you won’t have a basement or a crawl space, your concrete foundation will keep you safe from pests and mold which can cause costly repairs.
Nevertheless, if you’re having trouble with it, you can contact our team in North Carolina for a free foundation inspection and repair quote. Our professionals at Tar Heel Basement Systems will assess the state of your foundation. They’ll also recommend quality solutions to keep your home safe and stable in the future.