Site Preparation

A word about slab-on-grade floors

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Several times throughout the year, we are often asked about doing a home with a slab-on-grade as the main surface for the home.  Which is better? a crawl space, as we do, or a slab-on-grade?

Some will argue that a crawl space gives you more flexibility with the home, and its construction. For as many benefits there might be to a slab-on-grade home, the truth of the matter is, often the slab was not “placed” correctly to the approval of designer, builder and client. A lot can go wrong. Here is but a brief sample:
1. Cracking – structural
2. Cracking – shrinkage
3. Curling- Top of slab shrinks more than bottom and slab edge lifts.
4. Scaling – Hardened concrete breaking away from slab top in sheets 1/8” to ¼” thick.
5. Dusting – Appearance of powdery material at slab surface.
6. Crazing – Many fine hairline cracks in a new slab which resemble a road map.
7. Spalling – disintegration of concrete at joint edges.
To avoid one, if not all of the aforementioned items, the concrete must be placed appropriately. What this involves are a lot of variables. One of which is the appropriate mix of concrete.
Portland Cement Association recommends that a commercial or industrial concrete floor should have a three-day compression strength of 1800 psi. This is to avoid any damage before it thoroughly sets or hardens which takes 28 or so days. Some would say bad concrete will never result in a good finish. Therefore, a PSI of 4000, instead of what’s common 3000 psi, should be the starting point for a properly mixed concrete.
Not to go into a lot of detail here about concrete, but what are the benefits of have a slab-on-grade? Basically some would say the “ugly, dirty, moldy” crawl space won’t haunt you with a slab-on-grade floor. This may perhaps be true, but if you live in an area of high moisture, high water tables, lots of rain, then most, if not all, residential contractors in that particular area will not do a slab-on-grade home. The risk/reward are too great to take on such liability. That, and again, when pipes, conduit, and the 7 items mention above happen, things can quickly begin to spiral. It all starts at the foundation. Every framer will tell you “when the foundation is good, the framing goes good”. That and everything else that requires walls to line up, drywall to come together and siding to be installed without hiccups. Here at True Built Home, we are not opposed to perhaps doing one, under the right conditions, and in the right locations, particularly east of the mountains in our drier areas. If you are living in one of these areas, you might want to talk to one of our sales staff about doing one of our plans with a slab-on-grade. Please keep in mind, that if your thoughts are of saving money with a slab-on-grade floor, this is not the case. Typically, they cost a bit more that our standard crawl space homes.

Crawl space Better?
The flexibility you get with a crawl space are obvious. You don’t have to hack into the floor if something were to go wrong with the plumbing, or drainage. Being able to service the area of the home, via a crawl space, makes many people aware that having a crawl space is the easy choice. In addition, many think about the hardness of having a concrete floor, all day, every day, in the home. Thinking of standing, or laying down, or dropping things, just makes many cringe about the prospect of having a slab-on-grade home.
In the end, location, weather, land, and your particular taste will likely be the driving force of whether or not you have a standard crawl space home, or elect to have a higher end, and often more expensive alternative, slab-on-grade home.

A Lawn for Your New Home

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Are you waiting, like many on the west side of the mountains, for some decent, dry days to get your lawn and landscaping started? Or, do you just not want to think about it…  If you know anything about me, you know that I LOVE yard work. I throw on my iPod and get to work. I thought that a little of my past experiences, when I owned a landscaping business, might be interesting for some of you. So here are a few of my tips:

The Lawn.

If you are planting or seeding a new lawn, here are some things to keep in mind:   Read More

Why A Good Excavator Can Save You Money

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The first thing that needs to be done on any home construction site is site preparation. Most if not all of this will be done by an excavation company. After your home builder, a good excavator is your next best friend.

Excavators perform a number of important functions for you:

  • Digging trenches, holes, foundations for the house and to run utilities
  • Brush cutting with hydraulic attachments
  • Demolition
  • General grading/landscaping
  • Heavy lift, e.g. lifting and placing of pipes
  • Installing septic systems and often other utilities
  • Landscaping

On the other hand, a bad excavator can cost you literally thousands of dollars. For example, the framers will lay forms for footings in the ‘digout’ area that the excavators dig for the house foundation to go into. These ‘forms’ are simply boards (often 2” x 8”) that are nailed together to create molds that will hold the liquid concrete as it’s poured and keep it in that form until it has solidified (a few hours to a day). This creates your foundation.

The boards for these forms are flat. They lay on the surface of the ground. Here’s where the excavators work is critical: if the ground was not completely flat as well so that the entire length of the board is flush with the ground, then gaps under the boards will result, and concrete will seep from under the boards and spill out. This is wasteful. The deeper these gaps are the more concrete is lost. This can result in literally hundreds of dollars of wasted concrete, which you the home owner will end up having to pay for.

This is why it is essential to hire a good, experienced excavator and not “cousin joe with the back hoe” to do your digout.