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Construction Update – Week 1

by Chad Ludeman on October 4, 2008 · 12 comments

in 100k project,Construction Updates

Here is our first video construction update on the 100K House project. Nic is working hard to shoot and compile video each week for Friday release. A lot of his effort seems to be finding the cheesiest music possible to sync up with the footage, which makes it all the more entertaining. As we get farther along, we may add some commentary to explain what’s going on, but for the first week we tried to keep it simple.

This week, we had the ceremonial ground breaking followed by the actual ground breaking two days later. Brian, our contractor, apparently hired the best foundation guy in Philly, Tino, who has managed to dig and pour the footers for both houses in a day and a half. The concrete will set over the weekend and the foundation walls will be formed and poured early next week in preparation for the insulation and slab.

We will also be releasing daily photos of the construction site from both the front and back of the houses. You will be able to subscribe to the photo feed and at the end we’ll turn it into a video compilation as well. Stay tuned and don’t blink or you might miss something.

If you enjoyed reading this post I can promise you'll love our new writing over at Postgreen Homes. Yeah, we know that's the same thing your favorite band said and their new album is nowhere near as good as their early stuff, but seriously, we are actually still getting better.

There also isn't much conversation to be had here . . . at least not with us. So come on over to the Postgreen Homes Blog and tell us what you think of our new(ish) digs and crazy ideas. We will be sure to tell you what we think of your opinion.

{ 12 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Andy Black October 4, 2008 at 2:16 pm

Congratulations on the groundbreaking (non-bagel style). I had a few questions. How did you get the footings inspected within the same day? What type of rebar did you use for the footings? And did you need a compaction test before you poured? It seems as though this process is always so slowed through the bureaucratic process with inspections that if there is a way to expedite these steps much of the foundation costs could be reduced for infill projects.

2 chad October 4, 2008 at 10:27 pm

Hi Andy,

We needed the footings inspected before we poured and just worked out the scheduling well with a bit of luck.

I have no idea what type of rebar we used and I think a compaction test is required but I was not present for it.

I don’t have experience yet with the inspection process in Philly but I hear there are good and bad days depending on the inspectors’ schedules. So far our experience has been great.

3 matt olson (rolu) October 6, 2008 at 3:55 am

brilliant! and congrats… the epic music made me keep thinking the camera would pan into the tractor cab for a shot of tom hanks playing you with a tear rolling down his eye.
really though, congrats and call me for landscape tips!

4 Kevin D October 6, 2008 at 4:53 am

Forgive me for always trying to “value engineer” everything, but in many parts of the country, the footing and stemwall are poured at once with an “inverted T”-shaped form. It would be a cost saver if it’s allowed in Philly. Of course, many things are allowed if you can find a PE to sign off.

As long as we’re on the subject of foundations, there is a widely approved method called “Shallow Frost Protected Foundation System”. It could save Tino some time because it’s only one foot deep, or could even be hand-dug by local day laborers, which may gain some LEED points.

Did I see it correctly that there are no footing forms? I really like that from a time-saving point of view.

5 chad October 6, 2008 at 12:10 pm

Thanks Matt, we may be giving you a call.

Kevin – I have to admit that I have not done a lot of research on footings and foundations to date. In Philly, the infill lots and shared party walls make things very tricky and some of the more advanced concept may not be possible. It’s certainly worth looking into for the future though.

All I can tell you is that Tino is “the Man” when it comes to foundations in the city. Whatever Tino recommends, you do.

Digging footers by hand seems like it would be quite costly and reminds me of my visits to China where they would have 20 people unload a truck rather than buying a forklift to do it faster. There are no LEED points for increasing manual labor rather than mechanical that I’ve read to date. In commercial, you may get points for the work crew driving from within a certain radius, but that doesn’t apply to Homes from what I’ve read either.

6 Andy Black October 6, 2008 at 1:06 pm

I dont think you can use the Shallow Frost System in Pennsylvania, but I could be wrong (I’ve never seen anyone able to dig less than the frost line). My only concern is that in California and other similar places, much of the new construction is on virgin soil. These urban sites in Philly have so much garbage and water beneath the surface that I have found that inspectors have always wanted compaction tests as well as significant debris removal before footings were poured. Usually geotechs are the guys who establish the foundation design and they rarely err on the side of being cost effective.

7 Rob October 6, 2008 at 2:03 pm

Shallow Frost Protected Foundations can absolutely be used in PA, given that the correct conditions are met. However with a tight urban site if may be difficult to go horizontially the same distance as the frost depth (36″ in Philly I believe) as is usually required with SFPF. Also if there is need to remove/excavate forgien matter like bricks and trash, then standard foundations probably make sense in this situation.

8 chad October 6, 2008 at 2:51 pm

If memory serves me right, we had to remove two feet of debris minimum. The min requirement for footings is 36″ to reach the frost line here also. We need to get right up against the neighbor’s wall so there is really no room to go horizontally.

In reference to debris, almost every vacant lot in Philly had an old house on it at one time that was demolished and dumped into its own foundation. This means you need to remove a decent amount of debris no matter what…

9 Kevin D October 6, 2008 at 7:41 pm

You only have to go horizontally with the insulation between buildings if you are adjacent to a heated structure. However, I think the point is moot because of all the debris, and Tino gets down to 36″ super fast.

10 Janis D. October 6, 2008 at 7:54 pm

Congratulations! Cannot wait to see the next steps!

11 Kris December 3, 2010 at 9:44 am

Fun to see how efficient it was being able to just pour in place with no forms. In MN we have to go 48″ and we were required to have exterior draintile at the footing level so pouring in place was not feasible.

12 GreenbuildinginDenver.com December 3, 2010 at 3:54 pm

Draintile isn’t “required” by any jurisdiction yet, just by your foundation engineer’s personal preferences.

FPSF foundations are OK in MN, at only about 18″ deep.

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