Suspended or solid?

After the foundations dried, the dimensions for the new extension were measured,  the damp proof course was set out, and a layer of loose gravel was laid upon the cement. The final step was actually laying the floor.

As a sidebar, you will also notice that we have a “two-toned” house. Last year before the government scheme ended, we put a layer of insulation on the outside of our home. This had the dual benefit of both covering up the horrible pebble dash, while also providing much needed insulation to keep our 1920s home a bit warmer during the harsh winters. When having the insulation applied, we didn’t commit to the ground floor in the back of the house as we knew we would be building an extension. Clever, huh?! Moving on…

In the end, we opted for a block and beam system. This is a traditional way of creating a suspended flooring system for ground and upper floors in domestic and commercial applications. The system is quick and easy to install and is made up of pre-stressed, inverted ‘T’ beams infilled with standard building blocks. Lucky for you, I’ve included some photos below!

The blocks are suspended
You can see how the block and beam is actually suspended from the foundations.
The full house. Don’t you love the pink toilet?

There are alternatives to block and beam flooring and you should ask your builder / project manager what is going to be best for your build. He or she will likely have a preference and different options come with different costs, but don’t be afraid to ask questions and request what you want.  For example, it’s slightly more expensive, to lay block and beam foundations, especially on relatively small jobs, but it is quick and convenient. You may not need a suspended floor, in which case a solid floor is a good option and much cheaper.

For your information, I’ve included a few links below, to help you navigate the various options available. Your builder should be able to talk you through these options and provide recommendations.

  1. How to Choose a Floor Structure: This helpful article runs through block and beam, hollow core ground floors, concrete ground floors, and options for building stable first floors.
  2. Choosing Ground Floor Structures and Oversite: This article looks at the popular options for your ground floor system and explains the pros and cons of each. Most helpful, the author encourages readers to “start by deciding upon what your final floor finish will be, and work back from there”.
  3. Comparing Ground Floor Structure Costs: Supplemental to the different options, this article provides a good indicative guide of how much you can expect to pay for different floor solutions. For those of you on a tight budget, this may come in handy when working through things with your builder.

All of this is to say, you should educate yourself in advance of the process. Don’t be afraid to ask questions and to get multiple opinions about what will be most cost effective and work best in your area. And most importantly… have an idea before you get a quote as this will impact the cost of your build!

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