I am planning to buy a house. Hill country, Austin TX. The house was
built in 1978, 3BR, 1800 sq feet, 2 stories. The soil is rather
"rocky" there. As I saw a couple of diagonal crack coming from the
windows I contracted a foundation inspector to check up the slab
underneath the house. He came over and took measurements (he used some
powered device with an antenna). The outcome of the measurements is in
the attached link. Do you think that 1.5" difference within 40 feet is
in tolerance ? He recommended that no foundation repair is needed. I
am a little concerned though so I seek a second opinion. Pls let me
know - thanks so much
On Feb 16, 5:40 pm, firstname.lastname@example.org wrote:
Not a foundation expert, but doesn't sound critical to me. My main
concern with a slab foundation is they are prone for termite invasion.
Crack usualy will open beneath a wall unseen and termites can enter
and do extensive damage before you realize they are around. For that
reason I would never be sucker enough to buy a slab house. I lived in
Florida for 40 years and in my subdivision every house with a slab
floor had a termite problem. Those with crawl spaced were spared. Good
Only way I would ever build with a crawlspace was if it had a concrete
floor and was tall enough to stand up in. I <hate> working in
crawlspaces, hated it even when I was young and skinny. My other house
down in Louisiana is on a slab, and yeah, it is a pain, too, but nothing
like the houses on piers (open crawlspaces, basically) are. This place
has basement under the original house, and a (thankfully deep) crawl
under the addition, but they used a backwards-mounted standard basement
window for the outside access, so getting my fat gut in there is a MAJOR
'Ground is too hard' is nonsense- only valid excuse for not having a
basement, IMHO, is the water table being too high. If the lot consists
of 2 feet of dirt on top of rock ledge, build up the lot. If that isn't
an option, build elsewhere. If you simply MUST build on an undiggable
lot, build the first floor out of concrete.
well...I will invite you to hill country in Austin,TX then...if you
find a house with a basement I buy you dinner ..I asked around many
times ...why no crawl/basement...always the same answer .. it is going
to be too expensive to dig that extra 3 to 7 feet ...same story with
pools .. if you want to have a pool, buy a house with a pool ..never
built one urself ..as it is going to be a waste. project cost 10K,
value added maybe 4-5K
The existence of crawl spaces and then basements generally follows the
decreasing winter temperatures since the foundation footings have to go
below the frost line which in the northern states is pretty deep. If you
have to dig that deep anyway, you build a basement. In TX the frost line
is what, 1"?
Nobody with money to burn. You can go ahead and spend the money if you
Lousy thinking. The builder who spends an extra $10,000 to fight with jack
hammers and explosives to build a basement may not get that extra $10,000
in selling price. Only an idiot will spend $10,000 to get back $3,000.
Send me your $10,000 and I will give you $3,000 for it.
You are very opinionated and don't seem to think very deeply. Yes, solid
rock may be a major deterent, but hard pan clay and other soils should not.
In this region, houses without a basement have problems selling. That extra
$10,000.00 can double your square footage, great for hobbies, storage and
other uses. The cost per square foot is quite small. Only your idiot would
be too cheap to turn down doubling your square footage for a small price.
$10,000 for a basement? That's dreaming. Last project I did with a
basement, the excavation and masonry for the basement (basically 20 x
50 with a 36x32 attached garage) was $70,000. Granted, it was ICF
which is more expensive than block, but still, 10,000?
I understand what you builders are saying- as a seller of spec houses,
you have to put the bucks into what brings the customers in. However,
'no basement' also turns a certain percentage of customers off. I
probably looked at 100 houses before I settled for this one (because
interest rates were about to spike bigtime). Any houses without
basements were scratched off immediately, even if they had a tall
floored attic or barn out back. There just wasn't enough storage space
that wasn't subject to freezing or superheating like happens with sheds
and attics. And like I said in a previous post, I <hate> working on
mechanicals in a crawlspace. (I grew up in the business- I know the
trades hate crawlspaces, too.)
Probably why I'll never buy a prebuilt new house, if I ever get that
rich. The gingerbread and frou-frou that sells houses these days means
nothing to me. A full basement, to me, is worth more than the fancy
rooflines, granite counters, etc, that are the current fashion. If I
can't afford a custom house built like <I> want it, I'll make do with
the closest existing house I can find, at a lower price point.
On Mon, 18 Feb 2008 16:55:11 GMT, aemeijers wrote:
And a point you seem to miss, what will recover the cost. I would never
put several thousand$ into something that will not get more than that back
in sales price. I agree that a house with a basement will sell faster than
an identical house without a basement. The question is whether or not it
will sell for more than the cost to put one in. In areas where boulders or
solid rock are a problem a builder will not likely recover that cost. He
sells the house faster, but at a lower profit margin. Not good business
I just got done doing a full summer and fall hanging drywall in mostly new
construction and some of the crawl spaces were not at all bad to work in, a
minimum of about 3' of headroom. The house I am fixing up now in one area
has enough crawl space for my 2 and 3 yo grandsons to crawl in. If only I
could teach them quickly to do plumbing . . . I understand your preference
for purchasing a house with a basement. I agree with your preference.
What I disagree with is the statement that it is statement that builders as
skimping on not putting in basements in the south. I simply am making the
claim that many times it is simply not a feature that will increase the
selling price of the house by the extra $$$ needed to put in the basement.
It is often a simple business decision to not waste money on something that
will not recover the cost of the additional feature.
And when you are rich and can afford to throw away money you can certainly
do that. Until then . . .
Actually, there are several granite quarries in the Hill Country of
Texas. Water wells are seldom cased because they are solid rock, top
Fact is folks just don't have to burrow into the ground down here.
I agree southern builders are allowed to skip a lot of UNNECESSARY
expenses. It is called standard practice because... it is standard.
I would not live in a place that sells insulated coveralls in August
but not lawn chairs. :)
Neither reason is valid for not having basements in this area.
See my other response in this thread for the real reason. But it
boils down to this: You don't need one, so spend your money on
living space that costs less. If you want one, you can have one,
it will just cost you.
Eh- different strokes for different folks, etc. I can understand why, if
you have a huge lot as is common in new construction down south, you
would want to put the square footage (aka money) above ground where it
shows. But aside from the frostline question, since you are digging
anyway, a basement can be the cheapest enclosed space you can add to a
house. I'm not a fan of finished basements, never have been. But I
really, really like having a bigass bare concrete room downstairs to
stack stuff and do messy projects. And it DOES make installing and
servicing all the mechanicals much less of a pain. My ideal would be a
walkout basement- best of both worlds.
Yeah, even up north here, the new house-of-many-gables 12-12 roofed
cookie-cutter subdivisions (several notches below McMansions) usually
skip the basements- they claim it doesn't add to the curb appeal, and
allows them to hit their price point for the same amount of finished
space. Personally, I'd rather skip all the superfluous gables and
such(and maybe the dedicated dining room and formal living room), and
build a slightly smaller 70s style ranch with a basement. Which is more
useful- a tall attic that can't even be used for storage, and is 120+ in
summer, or a deep cool dry basement?
But that is just me- YMMV, especially if your living depends on building
houses in the currently popular styles. (I do feel kind of sorry for the
people who were the first ones to move in to many of the recent
mid-range and McMansion subdivisions- those projects were the hardest
hit by the recent housing crunch, and it will be years, if ever, before
many of those subdivisions get built out, or the later phases and
connecting roads get built. A lot of those people have to be upside down
bigtime on resale value.)
Guess I really shouldn't rip on the currently popular styles- my 81 YO
father still makes a decent living in Louisiana, designing
Southern/'Cajun'/faux French style McMansions for the rich doctors. He
thinks they are silly, too, but that is what the well-off customers
Down here, the digging just involves a trenching machine for
about a day. Then you run the plumbing and whatever electrical
and pour the slab. You only need about 3' deep footers or less
Digging for a basement would involve a backhoe, trucks to haul
off excess, most likely a hoe ram, several people to build forms,
pouring the foundation walls and waterproofing them, backfilling
and compacting exterior, pouring the basement floor, then
building the first floor, which would probably be framed.
The difference in cost is vast. Without a basement, the
foundation and floor costs about 7.00 sf (not including plumbing,
etc. which is involved with any kind of construction). The
basement would cost about about 30 dollars a sf to get to the
same point in construction.
For various reasons, I have only seen about 5 basements in my 35
years of construction in this area. They just don't make sense
down here. When someone has a basement, it is sort of a; Wow,
that is wild! kind of thing.
OTOH, plenty of storm cellars.
My experience is the exact opposite.
I grew up on a slab, and there was no trouble with termites. And as far as
I know there was no trouble in the surrounding homes which were also on
When I was looking for a house to buy, many of the houses that were on
a crawlspace had obvious termite damage. Some was not repaired, others had
sistered joists. Every crawlspace I ever saw (and I probably have seen a
hundred or so) was a haven for spiders, crickets and just about any other
insect you could name. Not to mention in many cases standing water.
Here's one, it was a nice looking brick house, where I'd guess all the
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