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Tear-down with an existing uninsulated basement: convert to slab on grade?

This question might have an obvious answer, but I haven't been able to dig up anything on google. If I were to purchase a tear-down property that had an existing uninsulated, fieldstone basement, what would be the best course of action to build a high performance house? Fill it in with dirt then to then create a slab on grade? Tear out the fieldstone and use the existing cavity to create an insulated basement (while also hopefully re-using the fieldstone on site for something useful like a wall)? I know slab on grade is easier to insulate and I have no particular desire to have a basement, but almost all existing properties in New England have a basement so I'm amenable either way. If I were to fill it in it would almost seem more trouble than it's worth, plus I'd have concerns about the earth settling after construction. Any thoughts on this?

Asked by Ethan Fahy
Posted Jul 21, 2014 2:56 PM ET


2 Answers

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I think you should build the kind of foundation you prefer, whichever one that is. If cost is an issue, then you should talk to excavation contractors and concrete contractors to get estimates of the two approaches. I suspect that a slab will be cheaper.

I like basements, so I would probably want to include a basement. But it's your house.

Answered by Martin Holladay, GBA Advisor
Posted Jul 22, 2014 4:41 AM ET


"Fill it with dirt" is not a good option unless it is thoroughly compacted to engineered specifications. The alternative is washed stone fill, which is expensive. If you have a hole in the ground under your house I'd recommend you use it rather than fill it.

Answered by James Morgan
Posted Jul 26, 2014 2:21 PM ET

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