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Edgar

Advice Sought for New Home Construction

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Yeah, 76 million homes in the US are on a crawl space. My dad has one for 25 years, not a single problem. Works great for most people.

 

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Yea they are almost standard here also, double your home's size for 30% more. About 50/50 between crawl/slab. It doesn't take much to have a shelter/safe room in a basement. You might mention to your basement guy about using a quality plastic sheeting under the slab, helps with moisture, but mainly a radon barrier. Radon is ranked 2nd in lung cancer, nasty stuff, it's radioactive. But a good plastic sheeting can eliminate most of it. They probably use plastic anyway, but won't hurt to ask them. 

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17 minutes ago, JL Sargent said:

Yeah, 76 million homes in the US are on a crawl space. My dad has one for 25 years, not a single problem. Works great for most people.

 

My younger brother has built over 500 homes in the last 30 years, about 99% are on a crawl space, they seldom have any problems.

I will disagree with the trend to completely seal the crawl space though, I want mine to breathe. Some builders now run a heat/ac into a sealed crawl. I think that's crazy. If your lot is excavated properly, there isn't a need to encapsulate your crawl space.

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I understand that in many areas of the country a slab or crawl space is the only construction possible but I won’t even look at a home without a basement. The home we just bought has a huge basement with nearly half of it with 10 inch thick, fiber reinforced walls. They appear massive compared to standard basement walls. And in this area is another “safe room” with these same walls and a concrete porch overhead. I feel confident we will walk away from a tornado even if there is nothing left above ground.

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On 2/8/2021 at 8:27 PM, Edgar said:

I'm making decisions on a new house that I'm having built. I've made most of my selections, but one just won't go away. Builder and realtor are encouraging a "nine-foot pour" for the basement -- nine-foot basement walls instead of eight-foot. It seems to me that eight-foot walls are stronger, place the basement floor one foot farther away from the water table, and $6000 cheaper. But I'm seeking input about any advantages that they might bring. Thanks.

@MookieStl  said it best ------RESALE value -

 

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3 minutes ago, richieb said:

I understand that in many areas of the country a slab or crawl space is the only construction possible but I won’t even look at a home without a basement. The home we just bought has a huge basement with nearly half of it with 10 inch thick, fiber reinforced walls. They appear massive compared to standard basement walls. And in this area is another “safe room” with these same walls and a concrete porch overhead. I feel confident we will walk away from a tornado even if there is nothing left above ground.

You might run a couple air inlet lines into that room, especially if you add a door, you know...if there is nothing left above ground, hate to starve for air.

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We had neighbors that spent the extra money on 9ft clearance (it was not a trivial amount).

Guess what,  the extra height was soon eaten up. Between various sub-contractors (plumber, HVAC, etc), the clearance disappeared. It started when the one guy ran the copper for an eventual outside faucet through the basement (perpendicular to the joists and a few inches down). The general contractor / builder apologized but said it was going to break the budget to get it redone. That was the first oops and was later followed by many more. In the end it ended up up looking like a typical basement with a low ceiling. 

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I insisted on 9 foot ceilings for my DAYLIGHT (2 retaining walls, 2 walls open to the outside) basement. But I knew ahead of time there would 2 channel listening going on down there. I told the designer and engineer "don't make me no dungeon".  And like Preston Tom said in the utility room and bathroom down there the ceiling got lowered a little to make way for ductwork and utilities but the 9 foot ceilings are intact in the bedroom and rec room down there. I personally would not hesitate to spend the $6K but don't let the extra headroom get carelessly taken over by subs trying to cut corners.

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Having done thousands of foundations, probably around 20 basements in 2020 alone, here's my .02

1.  9' shouldn't cost $6,000 more, i do 9' as my norm, 10's on occasions and rarely do 8' walls.

2.  If you're never going to finish the space and have no plans on selling, it doesn't matter, keep your money and move on.

3.  Regardless of your wall height, if they dig and get any water running into the cut, stop immediately and fill it in and do a crawl space. 

4.  If you have precast wall suppliers in your area (Superior Wall or Progressive Precast, maybe others) that's all I will even bid for my projects.  All of the precast systems are better wall systems than block or poured onsite.  ICF's can be great, depending on pricing and availability as well.

5.  Make sure your footings/basement slab are placed over a compacted limestone sub base and your drains are placed at the proper level (I'm assuming this is a flat lot and you can't get drains to daylight)  If you can't have gravity drains, spend money on the right sump or sumps and a reliable automatic backup for power loss.

6.  Make sure they put in a passive radon reduction system, that can be made active, if the levels ever warrant it. (It's plastic pipe set in the stone base under the slab)

7.  Make sure you understand the soil conditions when they dig, and unless you have natural sand and gravel, make sure their contract spells out a minimum of 50% gravel backfill and filter fabric isolating the footer drains.

8.  Make sure your foundation is insulated properly, as it will affect your overall heating and cooling and is part of the thermal envelope on the structure.  I'm doing R-20 minimum in all my foundations, even crawl spaces.

9.  What's your waterproofing?  Make sure they are using a system that has an actual warranty (slapping tar on a wall isn't really waterproofing)

 

I could go on, but instead I would offer you any technical/review assistance that I can be.  PM me and we can set up a time to chat if I can help.

 

BTW, if you do a crawl space, all the considerations are exactly the same.  You only have one chance at putting a foundation in properly, and that's the first time.

 

There should be a Monokast franchise in your area.  They're based out of St. Louis and I use their walls as well.  

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One thing you might look into @Edgar if your basement company does a traditional footer, is a product called Form A Drain. It does just that, it's a permanent plastic drain system that's also the forms for the concrete footers. It's light years better than the old "drop a perforated pipe down the hole" products most people use as the inside and outside perimeter drains for the basement. At least a couple feet of gravel on top of the footer then a fabric, then backfill, the higher quality builders use more gravel backfilling a basement than they do soil. There are poured basement companies giving lifetime warranties against leaks.

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On 2/11/2021 at 9:57 AM, Pete H said:

1.  9' shouldn't cost $6,000 more, i do 9' as my norm, 10's on occasions and rarely do 8' walls.

 

As I pondered this, I recalled my parents' house, where I grew up, in which I would bump my head on the I-beams supporting the main floor when walking in the basement. I'm 6'4" tall, so they probably had a 7' pour, and I survived it just fine.

 

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2.  If you're never going to finish the space and have no plans on selling, it doesn't matter, keep your money and move on.

 

I don't anticipate that for myself. Everybody hollers "Resale value!". If all goes to plan, I will spend the rest of my life in this house. But if you want to see God laugh, just tell Him that you have plans ...

 

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3.  Regardless of your wall height, if they dig and get any water running into the cut, stop immediately and fill it in and do a crawl space.

 

This is a lot in an established neighborhood (15 years). No problems thus far, and FloodFactor shows it to be minimal risk at my location.

 

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4.  If you have precast wall suppliers in your area (Superior Wall or Progressive Precast, maybe others) that's all I will even bid for my projects.

 

I'm afraid I have no choice on that. The developer/builder is doing whatever he does.

 

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5.  Make sure your footings/basement slab are placed over a compacted limestone sub base and your drains are placed at the proper level (I'm assuming this is a flat lot and you can't get drains to daylight)  If you can't have gravity drains, spend money on the right sump or sumps and a reliable automatic backup for power loss.

 

Again, no choice. Sump pumps are pretty much standard here, though. This particular lot has an elevation drop of about 6' from front to back, so I don't anticipate any drainage problems.

 

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6.  Make sure they put in a passive radon reduction system, that can be made active, if the levels ever warrant it.

 

That is an excellent idea that I had not even considered! Radon is quite common around here.

 

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7.  Make sure you understand the soil conditions when they dig, and unless you have natural sand and gravel, make sure their contract spells out a minimum of 50% gravel backfill and filter fabric isolating the footer drains.

 

Thanks, I will look into that. Soil here has a rather high clay content.

 

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8.  Make sure your foundation is insulated properly, as it will affect your overall heating and cooling and is part of the thermal envelope on the structure.

 

I'll have to check.

 

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9.  What's your waterproofing?  Make sure they are using a system that has an actual warranty (slapping tar on a wall isn't really waterproofing)

 

Another thing I'll check.

 

Many sincere thanks,

Greg

 

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32 minutes ago, Edgar said:

This particular lot has an elevation drop of about 6' from front to back,

With this much slope have you considered a walk-out basement?  With your plans for a small woodshop/storage area, you will find an access at shop level more than handy for moving equipment, wood panels, heavy items,  etc.,  through the door rather than up/down the stairs. 

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36 minutes ago, Zim. said:

With this much slope have you considered a walk-out basement?  With your plans for a small woodshop/storage area, you will find an access at shop level more than handy for moving equipment, wood panels, heavy items,  etc.,  through the door rather than up/down the stairs. 


Excellent thought. Does “heavy items” also include Jubilees, pool tables etc? You know - fun stuff.

Kidding aside a walkout is a great addition to a basement - 

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Well, much valid advise for either the 8' or the 9' block height or crawl for that matter.  Wood working shop ? Great choice.  My 2¢:

1) Since this is your forever home, and you are not worried about resale or ceiling height, go with the 8'.

2) Spent part of the $6,000 savings on a deluxe ALL-TOOL-CENTRAL-VAC.  Locate this in the ceiling.

3) Splurge on a couple of new work station tools like - a Grizzly 3 head shaper or a Jet 20" Planer, or maybe a 6' extension to a table saw.  No table saw ? well maybe a Delta with the 6' extensions.

4) And of course some sort of NEW Klipsch for the ears.

 

I enjoy my wood shop immensely.

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1 hour ago, Zim. said:

With this much slope have you considered a walk-out basement?  With your plans for a small woodshop/storage area, you will find an access at shop level more than handy for moving equipment, wood panels, heavy items,  etc.,  through the door rather than up/down the stairs. 

 

Not quite enough elevation change for a walk-out. Builder encouraged that until realizing that the lot didn't support it. I don't really want it -- another door to worry about somebody breaking in through.

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50 minutes ago, richieb said:


Does “heavy items” also include Jubilees, pool tables etc? You know - fun stuff.

 

Listening room is on the main floor. 32x19x9!

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36 minutes ago, Seadoc said:

1) Since this is your forever home, and you are not worried about resale or ceiling height, go with the 8'.

2) Spent part of the $6,000 savings on a deluxe ALL-TOOL-CENTRAL-VAC.  Locate this in the ceiling.

3) Splurge on a couple of new work station tools like - a Grizzly 3 head shaper or a Jet 20" Planer, or maybe a 6' extension to a table saw.  No table saw ? well maybe a Delta with the 6' extensions.

4) And of course some sort of NEW Klipsch for the ears.

 

It's not really $6000 savings. It's $6000 not spent. However, I have been stocking-up on power tools recently.

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It it normal to be totally stressed-out about buying this house? It's only the second time I've bought a house, and the first time was 22 years ago so I don't really remember what it was like.

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16 minutes ago, Edgar said:

It it normal to be totally stressed-out about buying this house? It's only the second time I've bought a house, and the first time was 22 years ago so I don't really remember what it was like.

No....your builder should make sure this process is painless and enjoyable.

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