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How Your New Home is Built: The Construction Sequence

Tuesday, September 3rd, 2013 | Uncategorized | No Comments

By Michael Jamison

The beginning of your new home and probably the most important part of the construction sequence is the type of foundation used and the soil conditions of the building site. Let’s start with a discussion about the soil and its bearing capacity.

In East Tennessee, the soils are highly variable and can become a huge problem if ignored when planning the foundation. We’ve all heard of settling houses, sinkholes, rock formations that require blasting, or soft soils without enough bearing capacity. The building code requires 1,500 lbs per square inch as the minimum allowable bearing capacity for supporting soils. This is why a soil test by a soil engineer is highly recommended before buying a piece of property, or if you already own the property, an inspection is recommended before starting construction.

Once you know what you will be building on, there are several foundation types or methods to consider.

Post and pier – Concrete footings with wood post, concrete, or concrete block piers around the perimeter and interior of the home. These are used very infrequently except for cabin or shed construction.

Continuous perimeter and interior footings – Continuous poured concrete footing with interior concrete pads for footings. This method is used for crawlspace and full basement foundations. The walls can be constructed with either concrete block or reinforced concrete.

Continuous footings and slab on grade – Used when a crawlspace or basement are not required.

Pre-cast concrete foundation walls with compacted stone footings – A very fast method of construction with engineered pre-cast concrete walls ready for installation of drywall and utilities.

All the foundations listed above are acceptable for building, and there are pros and cons to each method. You should discuss the different systems with your architect or building to determine which method is best for you and your building requirements.

The next consideration is how important proper construction of the foundation is to the overall success of the building. A properly constructed foundation, both level and square, will help ensure that the exterior walls are square and the roof is laid out correctly. Think about the problems that can multiply during construction if the foundation and walls aren’t level and square to begin with. The exterior siding and brick application will be troublesome. The roof and overhangs won’t be equal. Interior trim and cabinets will need to be adjusted or shimmed. Wood or tile floors will show the out-of-square condition. Interior doors or windows may not operate correctly. The problems go on and on, and all can be eliminated if care is taken while building the foundation.

It all starts with the foundation – the very beginning of your new home. Properly compacted soil, foundation system constructed square and level, and foundation drainage installed to keep water away from the footings are all critical for a well-built home.

Next month we will discuss different framing methods.

Jamison Custom Homes
(423) 884-3886

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East Tennessee's Mountain Views

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