Monday, April 10, 2006

Log Home Update: Part 9

Don, our GC, tells me the foundation crew will be putting the finishing touches on the forms this morning. This afternoon they will pour the concrete. (Don has promised me pictures.) Tomorrow (Tuesday) or Wednesday morning the metal forms around the garage will be removed. Don will take delivery of the materials for the sill plates and deck on Tuesday and start construction of that on Wednesday.

As you look around the northern PA area in which we are building you can see new construction using prefab concrete panels, concrete block and poured concrete. Block is the material of choice if you’re only doing a crawl space that will require a half dozen courses or so although you see traditionalists using it for full basements as well. People who think they need to rush will use the prefab slabs. You can erect the entire basement in a day with no forms. The problem Don brought up was how it ties to the footings and the joints where the slabs abut one another.

I guess the greatest advantages of the system we are using for the basement foundation is the speed with which it goes up, the added insulation the foam provides, The wall can be tied to the footing using long pieces of rebar set in the footing, the continuous wall strength (no seams or joints along the entire horizontal length), and the speed with which you can get right to work after the concrete is poured (the foam forms don’t get stripped as they are part of the wall system). The insulation value is important in an area where there is going to be living space. We’ll have radiant floor heating in the basement and don’t want to lose the warmth through the walls.

Using concrete block (cinderblock) would have taken much longer and every course and every joint is an adventure. You constantly have to check for level and plumb, cut block to fit, mix concrete (can’t keep it around to do the whole job), etc. Even using the “panelized” concrete (prefab) slabs that can be poured elsewhere and erected on site would have required a crane to hoist them in place and would have left joints where the panels come together. And they don’t have as strong a tie-in to the footings. Neither system would have the added insulation of the foam blocks we are using on this project. The cost is very competitive, too.

I’m told that there are plastic strips in the foam block into which you can screw. That’s where the vertical metal supports are attached. This makes it very easy to attach furring strips to finish off the basement. I’ll have to pick Don’s brain on this as I intend to do the finishing of the basement on my own. I just ask that he erect the partition walls for the bathroom and the workshop once the floor is poured.

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