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Is it better to build a two story house on a slab or to put a basement in the ground and a main floor on top?

GBA Editor | Posted in Energy Efficiency and Durability on

I’m wanting to know from a construction cost and heating cost perspective. I like in eastern Canada.

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  1. GBA Editor
    Martin Holladay | | #1

    It depends whether you think the basement space is a nice place to live, or whether you prefer to live above grade, with nicer views.

  2. Christopher Briley | | #2

    I think that if you had a good "daylight basement" that opens to the south. That would win. I think if you didn't, the greater flexibility of your two-story home would make it a better choice. I think that this is a very hard call without knowing all the variables of the site. Also knowing exactly what kind of finished basement, and what kind of two-story house we're talking about could make a difference.

  3. Kent Sheen | | #3

    I live on the north shore of PEI, CA with land that slopes down to the north and views to the north. I'm looking to take advantage of passive solar gain and daylighting on the south side with selected views through a modest number of windows to the north and west. Given that the average annual ground temperature is about the same as the average annual air temperature does that mean the only heat loss difference would be an additional convective from wind on the above ground wall given an equally insulated basement wall or second story wall? Would any difference be compensated for by the passive solar gain that would be received by putting the alternate story above ground with efficient windows on the south side?

  4. kevin_in_denver | | #4

    We are currently out to bid on a small home and are comparing Basement vs. Slab.
    One of the issues is that below grade living space is valued at roughly 60% as much as above grade space.

    The slab will be FPSF and look like an insulated thickened edge slab. As you can imagine, this will be thousands less to build than a conventional 36" stem wall with a second pour for the interior slab.

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