Building on a Solid Foundation


This article explores whether it is better to use a concrete slab or stumps; or a combination of both when it comes to building your new home.

House foundations are not considered a particularly glamorous part of the construction process. But they are crucial, so it’s important to choose a builder who understands the variety of foundation choices and what to consider when deciding on one.

Homes in Melbourne in the 1950’s, 60’s and 70’s were traditionally built on timber or concrete stumps with timber bearers. Joists formed the floor structure with a perimeter footing to support the brick veneer cladding. But like everything else in construction, foundations have evolved over time.

In recent decades, concrete slab foundations have become the norm for new homes. Homes built on a concrete slab foundation generally achieve higher energy ratings because of the insulation provided by the concrete. In contrast, homes built on stumps require careful attention to insulation of the subfloor in order to achieve a satisfactory energy rating. With ever increasing regulatory requirements around minimum standards for energy ratings, homes built on stumps are now less common.

In addition, homes built on a concrete slab foundation usually cost less than the equivalent home built on stumps. This is because constructing the stumps and sub floor framing is very labour intensive, stump foundations mean more insulation is needed and the extra heigh stumps require more cladding materials around the perimeter of the home.

Homes built on a concrete slab foundation are generally considered to be more solid and less susceptible to movement within the building – we’ve all been in old homes where the floor feels springy or uneven because the stumps have rotted or inadequate stump footings were provided. Re-stumping a home to remedy this is expensive, but building on a concrete slab foundation avoids these issues.

Stumps still have a place as a foundation option, commonly for homes where the floor level is raised above natural ground level – this may be to capitalise on views or to meet a minimum flood level requirement. In this situation, it may be more cost and labour effective to build on stumps rather than fill the site to raise the slab level.

The Latitude 37 Group knows how to employ all types of foundation construction and how to do them right, avoiding potential problems. We consider the site and can advise on the best option for the project as a whole. To minimise build cost for our clients, we typically build waffle slabs. However, on occasion, a client may have a particular preference to build a raft slab or the site, soil conditions or engineering requirements may dictate that a waffle slab is not appropriate. Similarly, site slope may dictate that a more cost effective or more appropriate solution may be to build on stumps/subfloor framing or a combination of stumps and slab.

Our experienced designers will guide the appropriate design response for each client and each design brief making the Latitude 37 Group your best choice for construction of your new home.

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