Diamond Pier: decks without digging machines

Diamond Pier Photo Wise Home Building blog

When dealing with deck additions and renovations one point is extremely difficult to address: the excavation needs to support the code rules to have a stable and strong foundation.

Decks causes of failure can vary from a bad connection with the house to a foundation block or post that is not designed to support that amount of weight. And to have a good foundation we have to dig a hole with huge machines sometimes. Not anymore.

Pin Foundations, Inc., manufacturer of the Diamond Pier, has been designing and manufacturing foundations for over 25 years. And their idea to design a better product is that the Earth is the actual foundation, and soils, in their natural undisturbed state, have the strength and structure to do the job.

That’s why they designed Diamond Pier based on Pin Pile TechnologyPilings keep the Earth’s existing soil strength and structure intact and are easy to install if they do not need to go too deep. Traditional footings spread loads more widely, but the digging breaks apart the soil, weakening it and blocking or exaggerating water flow.

By grouping short bearing pins, which can easily be driven into intact penetrable soils, and setting them at angles to work more like a shallow footing, a sound foundation can be constructed that requires no excavation. This high-strength, precast component is a driving guide, a pin piling lock, and a structural connection all in one.

As a driving guide, the pier maintains the pin angles so that their capacity is definable and consistent. As a lock, the pier is designed to increase its grip on the pin cluster when loaded up, down, or side- ways—getting stronger and tighter as loads increase. And as a connection, an embedded anchor bolt and precast, post-matching shape make it a simple and proportional complement to its supported structure.

The Diamond Pier provides a solid, stable, economical foundation that both captures and preserves the supporting strength and natural functions of the Earth’s soil and, in turn, solidly and simply connects to and protects the permanent structures above.

The only limitation we have to use them appears when we deal with a rocky soil.

If you want more information about that, contact us.

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Ranch House: 8 advantages to build one

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Ranch style houses have a lot of advantages compared with a 2-story plan.
  1. No stairs (the lazy factor)

If you’re a fanatic for exercise, you like stairs.  If you’re like the rest of us, stairs are a hassle to go up and down. Some people also have disabilities, and is very difficult to handle with stairs, as we discuss below.

  1. Less noise (from above)

Noise from above, footsteps included, is not good.  The majority of 2-story homes aren’t built with perfect noise proofing between floors – mainly because it is expensive for builders to work with that feature.  Some are better than others but I’ve yet to be in a house where I don’t hear noise from above.

  1. Great for mobility issues

At some point stairs are more than a hassle: they’re an obstacle.  Many people with mobility issues sell their home because they cannot go up and down stairs.  If you’re building or buying your forever home, this is a good consideration.  At some point many of us will not be able to navigate stairs.

  1. More renovation flexibility

Load bearing walls make knocking down walls a problem.  Beam-work can replace a load-bearing wall, but it’s expensive. When you have a rancher, it’s much easier to knock down walls and add on extensions because there’s much less weight to consider.  Consequently, it’s easier to create open concept living areas.

  1. Easy to add skylights

In fact, it’s not only easier, it’s pretty much possible anywhere you like.  You simply punch a hole in the roof and create the skylight.   This is not possible when you have a second floor. The potential for adding natural light is enormous.  This can be a very nice benefit if you like a light-filled home such as a light-filled kitchen or bathroom.

  1. Easier for exterior maintenance

To maintain a single story home over a two-story home is also a huge advantage.  Imagine you cleaning gutters 20 feet in the air, and compare with a 10 feet up (it isn’t so bad, don’t you agree?). Thing goes with washing a house, cleaning windows and performing any roof maintenance.

  1. High cathedral ceiling

It’s far easier to add cathedral or tall ceilings to an existing single story home than it is to a 2-story home. Cathedral ceilings are very nice interior design features, and you can easily incorporate them in any plan for a single story house.

  1. More deck/patio potential

With a single story, you have more rooms from which to add a deck or patio.  Just create a door and a patio and you’re done.  It’s not so simple from a second story. It will be also more expensive to do it in a 2-story house.

Of course you have some “not so good” points when dealing with planing for a single story house. In other post we will talk about that.

The 5 pillars of super-efficient houses

Energy efficiency is becoming a very important topic to be addressed in home building. Here you can find the 5 principles that guide this practice:

  1. Localize your energy source in your house – you normally live one room at a time, so if yo can plan your air conditioning system independently is a good idea.
  2. Insulate your house efficiently – roof areas and cool basements are important area to have a good insulation system for your home to be efficient. Some choices like insulated concrete prefab systems can help you on that.
  3. Design glass and shading for maximum benefit – the location and size of your windows are important factors that can affect your energy efficient proposal. You have to ideally plan the arrangement of all windows before buying them, and also try to work with systems that can help you avoid the inside-outside thermal changes. A good landscape design (considering tree shade positions) is also helpful
  4. Minimize air leakage and control ventilation – a window or door that is not correctly installed can be an important air leakage area that will damage the efficient index of your house. Also it will cost you a lot of money in electrical bills.
  5. Always select high efficiency appliances – more recently a lot of brands are working better with energy efficient devices. We recommend you access the Energy Star website clicking here

Water spending: You probably don’t know the numbers

Water is a big problem in some regions of USA because of a lack of lakes and water treatment related with conservation rules. So it is quite frequent for a lot of houses to have a water well.

Pie chart of our water use

Many people underestimate the amount of water they use. Here you have some interesting numbers related with that:

  1. Dishwasher: can use up to 16 gallons of water per cycle (old models). EnergyStar ® models use 6 gallons or less per wash cycle and also save electricity.
  2. Shower: A low-flow shower-head uses about two gallons a minute, or 20 gallons for a 10-minute shower. A standard shower-head uses 2.5 gallons a minute, or 25 gallons for 10 minutes.
  3. Toilet: water use can vary significantly. Older toilets can use 3.5, 5, or even up to 7 gallons of water with every flush. Federal plumbing standards now specify that new toilets can only use up to 1.6 gallons per flush (GPF), and there are high efficiency toilets that use up to 1.28 GPF.

In Massachusetts the estimated average of water use per person per day is around 75 gallons. For a family of 4 they have to be prepared to use 300 gallons per day of water (if you don’t have a large garden with an irrigation system).

Think about these numbers if you are installing a new well in your house.

Water use and population growth chart
Source: EPA website

Weather protection: the secret for you house health

To build a new house is not a big deal itself. Of course is a very demanding job, but if you are an organized person and like to control budgets you can do small projects by yourself. The difficult part is to work on building process and renovation projects that are expected to last forever. Or, at least, for the next 50 years.

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A good roof project can help a lot your house to be protected from water infiltration

Having in mind this concept, one of the most important topics here is moisture and water. Regardless if you are an experience builder or not, water will find its way to penetrate a house. It doesn’t mater also the type of exterior finishing you are using (PVC, vinyl, wood, fiber cement, stucco or even metal). Instead of fighting against this reality, you have to think about water getting away from sheathing and framing.

  • Create a water resistant barrier (house wrap your house – it will be the “rain coat” to protect the water to enter the walls)
  • Put in your plans a roof overhang of 12 inches at least (is like an umbrella for your walls – if you don’t have it, the only protection will be the “rain coat” and you will need a great one if your goal is to stay dry)
  • Choose a 1 story house (the amount of water pouring in the wall will be much less compared with a 2 or 3 story house)
  • Avoid shallow-pitch roofs
  • Use good quality materials for your exterior walls
  • Carefully look for wrap products that can be a potent barrier for water

We like to use in our projects the Zip Wall sheathing from Huber. In projects that use Hardie-Plank materials you can use some strips to help in the water barrier. You have a lot of products that can be used also, but it depends on the specificity of your project.

If you need more information, don’t hesitate in contact us

 

Home building and Robots: now and then

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ZEROLABOR® automates the construction process in high-end plans.
In a recent new deal with modular construction Katerra, Swedish firm Randek brings its automated workforce to the U.S. home building market.

Perfect squared walls and studs without any bowing. Window and electrical openings placed according to CAD in pre-fabricated walls. Conduits and insulation installed in a control temperature environment. Minimal waste to be handled. Yes, we are talking about the HOME BUILDING 2.0: an era of robots taking care of the home building business.

Despite the majority of home builders today can’t use this technology, it is already a reality for some companies that would like to work with this innovation. Faster process to build walls, roofs and trusses, with computer precision, maximizing the labor time. That’s the goal, and believe you or not it is starting to gain more and more adepts.

A perfectly framed wood home can be built by a team of two robots: precisely as designed by the architects and engineers, in record time, without delays or injuries.

ZeroLabor Robotic System® is one of this multifunctional application of mass-produced robotics with the ability to produce framed buildings. The first one was installed by  Moelven (a Norwegian forest products company) at its plant in the western Sweden in 2016, and the plant saw productivity increase by 5 times without any increase in staffing.

Photo from Randek website: http://www.randek.com/en/wall-floor-and-roof-production-lines/zerolabor

Swedish company Randek, which makes high-performance machines and systems for prefabricated house manufacturing in 36 countries and developed the world’s fastest wall line for Toll Brothers in 1992, is bringing its robotics revolution to U.S. production home building: Menlo Park, California (modular construction company Katerra recently purchased three ZeroLabor units, to be delivered next spring).

The robot screws, staples, nails, glues, and cuts out openings for windows and electrical as needed. It even straightens studs before nailing and marks building components using an inkjet printer. At the end of the task, the robot automatically separates waste and places it in the appropriate bins.

The future is coming, faster than we expected.

(OBS: to write this post we use information provided by the builders.com website)