Do Slab Foundations Have A Future in Houston?

The reign of slab-on-ground foundations

Until around 1952 there were few slab-on-ground foundations in Southeast Texas, or virtually anywhere else for that matter. Three things changed that: inexpensive concrete delivered to the site by Ready-Mix concrete trucks, an apparently endless supply of World II veterans coming back home who wanted to get married, start a family and buy a house, and the acceptance of slab-on-ground foundations by the federal agencies and local code authorities.

Slab-on-ground foundations have ruled the day ever since. 

The return of pier and beam foundations 

Pier and beam foundations never went totally away, but they are a small minority. That is getting ready to change. The City of Houston is going to require that all residential construction be elevated at least 24-inches above the 100-year and 500-year floodplains.

Slab-on-ground foundations are not explicitly prohibited

But they are made impractical, in many cases, by the elevation requirements.

Soon, competitive foundations will be pier and beam for new homes

They will not resemble the pier and beam foundations circa 1940 and before. The piers will be mostly fourteen to eighteen feet deep, not the two to three feet common in older pier and beam foundations. The depth will be based on a soil report and not the depth the contractor thinks will work.

Foundation repair will be a shrinking business

Foundation repair for the newer elevated houses will be less expensive since the crawlspace will be easy to access. Since the piers will be below the active soil zone, there will less need for foundation repair. 

Floor framing

The floor framing will be different as well. One of the advantages of slab-on-ground foundations is that you get the floor for no extra cost. That saving will go away. Engineered lumber will be widely used for major beams whereas there was no such thing until the early 1970s.   

Houses 24-inches above the floodplain will be much more resistant to flooding 

The new rules are necessary to prevent future flooding. New homes will be more expensive and older homes in the 100 and 500-floodplains may go down in price as compared to newer elevated houses. 


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