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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How long does it take a slab to dry out before flooring can be installed?

This is a very important question. Moisture is a problem with fresh concrete slabs, and if you install your floor in a wet slab you will have a lot of problems in the future.

Basement Finished Superior Wall1
Concrete slab in the basement after finishing. We are now around 2 months after the installation. The concrete walls are already insulated (we used Superior Wall pre-cast foundations in this project)

Variables that affects the concrete moisture include:ambient relative humidity, concrete permeability, amount of water in the concrete when it is placed, slab thickness, presence (and thickness) of a vapor barrier in contact with the slab bottom, and method used to finish the surface.

Here you have the needs depending on the type of floor to be installed:

  1. Impermeable flooring (Vynil, for example): Internal relative humidity around 85% or surface moisture–vapor emission rates (MVER) of 3-5 pounds of moisture per square-feet over 24 hours
  2. Wood floors: 75% internal relative humidity and an MVER of 3 pounds of moisture per square-feet over 24 hours (National Wood Flooring Association recommendation)

In practical terms, just remember that to achieve the recommendations it takes time. In normal average conditions (relative humidity around 50% most of the time and temperature above 65F, concrete water-cement ratio of 50%) a 4-inch slab can take up to 3 months to dry before you can apply a floor there. But remember that this 3 month period starts only when the cement is dry.

You have some specific tests for that, that are too technical to describe here. Just to mention, the calcium-chloride test and the internal relative humidity test are tow that can be applied for this evaluation.

One of the most important features is the vapor barrier/vapor retarder. Without a vapor barrier the slab will never dry out. That’s why the construction codes put the obligation to use a 6 mils vapor barrier there. The 10mils and also the 15 mils poly sheet can better control the moisture. The best location for the vapor barrier is in direct contact with the bottom of the slab.

If insulation is used over the concrete slab a 4-month drying time should be respected before installing the EPS (normally the EPS absorbs 0.5% by volume).

To have more detailed information about that you can click here and check the Concrete Construction magazine

Dawn to Dusk Foundation

For most new homeowners, it’s within the first week of the home building process that excavation and pouring the foundation begins. Imagine if your foundation could be ready and installed in just 1 day – indeed we recently had one of our projects completed within a 6-hour period (check the time lapse video clicking here)

With precast products it’s a doable, fast process few people know about. A partner of ours, Superior Walls, works in this segment and makes building the foundation of your new home, of your new life, a faster and more enjoyable experience all around.

Image result for superior wall photos

We all know that a good, strong foundation is the secret to a stable home. If special attention is not given to your foundation then it’s safe to say there will be complications down the road.

Superior Walls’ foundations are dry, using a special low water/cement ratio concrete that requires no additional damp proofing (US Markets; see ESR-1662). They’re warm with full-length insulation built in to increase energy efficiency. They also provide high strength 5000+psi concrete that is reinforced with steel rebar and polypropylene fibers for added strength and performance.

The product features patented, insulated, precast concrete wall panels that are formed in a factory-controlled setting and delivered to the site of your new home. Panels are lifted into position with a crane and carefully bolted together and sealed. Walls are custom designed and can be built to virtually any architectural style, complete with window and door openings. This system uses a footing of crushed stone along with a steel reinforced footer beam. The purpose of any wall footing is to distribute the wall’s load over a sufficiently large area of soil to ensure that the soil bearing capacity isn’t exceeded.

The best news about this system, however, is that for an average 2,200 sq ft house the foundation can be installed in just 1 day (6-8 hours). As far as foundations go, that’s impressive. It saves time and shortens the length you have to wait before moving into your new home without compromising in the strength, solidity, or energy efficiency of your foundation.

For more photos, documents, and information about Superior Walls, click here.

For a video showing their process, click here.

Foundation installed in 6 hours: time lapse video

Yesterday we installed the foundation of our home building in Clinton, MA. It will be a 2,500sf house, 4beds 3 baths with a finished basament, and one of the benefits for using the Superior Wall precast foundation is the concept of having all insulation features already installed.

In our project we preferred to use the X1 plus pannels, that generates an R-value of 21.3. The installation team did a great job, completing the installation of all panels in 6 hours (from 10am – 4pm).

The site work team there did a great support to compact the crane location – thanks again Phil Stenersen, and also Chris for the excavation work. From the Superior Wall by Weaver team thanks also to Joe, Garfield and Mitchell for the great job there – looks easier than portray seeing them working there. And also Nate West and Al Lunn for the office support during this whole process.

Great team work, that will keep the high-end quality representing our mission for every single Wise Home Building projects

3 tips to avoid foundation problems

 

House foundations can cause huge problems if you build them wrong. Water is the enemy here, and a few recommendations can avoid a lot of problems in the future:

  • Implement a proper grading

You have to ensures water cannot directly reach the base of your house and foundation walls. Grade the terrain about 6 inches in 10 feet soil to slope away from your home.

  • Drain water AWAY from your house

Remember that soils can expand a lot, and here in New England we have soils with a lot of humidity in the winter times also. Install a drainage system with 4″ perforated pipes that are at least 12″ (1 foot) away from the foundation walls.

  • Use insulation in the floor of your living basement

If you plan to have a living basement area don’t forget to use an insulation system in your floor also. A 2″ polyurethane is a good choice, but is also a little bit more expensive. You can also use crushed stone with a vapor retarder in the top of it.

insulation below ground floor slab

Water: get out of here

Did you notice a strong musty odor in your basement after a rain shower? If you have a septic system, probably he will be responsible for your craziness. But remember that you can have a problem from moisture build-up inside the basement too.

Proper drainage around the outside of your home is critical for the long term when you are building your house. We have a lot of options to work in a proper drainage for your foundation, when building a new home: the traditional French system is normally used, normally with a perforated 4″ PVC. More recently EZ drain is becoming one example of new products to facilitate your job (click here to check it).

EZ drain photo
EZ drain system in a trench to help water drain out of the foundation

Always remember that a clogged French drain can be a very tough situation.  So if you have French drains it is very important to have a filter to catch debris before it clogs the underground drain.

On the other hand, remember that the water always will fall from your roof, even if you live in very dry counties. Rain gutters are also an important part of the drainage system around your house. If your gutters are leaking and in poor repair, or if the downspout empties right beside your house, you could experience a huge problem in the future.

Gutters need to be installed properly so they will catch the water coming off of your roof and channel it at least 3-4 feet away from your home. To ensure your gutters are working as they should, you may need to just wait for the next rain storm, go outside and take a look.  If the rain is overshooting the gutter as it leaves the roof, then your gutters are not doing their job.   Gutters should have a downward slope towards the downspout to ensure they drain completely.

At ground level, the water from your downspout should be directed at least 4 feet away from your house. It’s best to have the water flowing through a tipout on the ground, or onto a splashguard designed to drain the water away from your home.

The goal of your home’s exterior drainage system is to simply move water away from your home – mainly from the foundation.  During the next rain storm pay attention to all the parts in this system.  If you discover any problems, getting them fixed immediately is critical. And if you are buying a new home don’t save money on gutters, and always ask your builder how was the system used near the foundation to work on the water drainage out of the foundation.

Basement Egress…with charm

To have a basement egress is an obligation for all constructions here in Massachusetts, and every builder understands this necessity to comply with local rules. Not a lot of systems are nice – let’s be frank, here. But some options can be fancy, practical and comply with the code in the same time.

Basement-Egress-Window-Ideas1
Photo credit: http://www.casailb.com/unique-basement-egress-window/basement-egress-window-ideas/

Boman Kemp basement egress systems can play an important part in turning your  basement into an additional living area that’s both attractive and safe. It increases the natural light and ventilation while also providing a safe escape route that’s building code compliant. You have different models, colors and accessories to deal with.

You can find more information about that clicking here