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Foundations Completed on the 100K House Project

by Chad Ludeman on October 14, 2008 · 6 comments

in 100k project,Construction Updates

Backfill complete

The end of week two of construction marks the completion of the foundation. Tino surprised us and came out on Saturday evening after to wrap up the foundation work. In a matter of hours, he and one helper installed insulation, backfilled the entire site and leveled the interior of the foundations in preparation for slab work this week.

This week is all about the slabs. The plumber and electrician will get there first visits to the site to prepare the utility runs under the slab. Once that is done, it’s time to insulate and install wire meshing for the slab. The plumber will come out once again to install the PEX for the radiant system to the wire mesh and we will pour by the end of the week. This is a critical week as the SIPs are being delivered next Monday and we can not miss that deadline.

This marks the end or our first flickr construction set of images – 100K Excavation & Foundation Walls. All of the images from this set can be seen below and tomorrow we’ll start the next construction set devoted to the slabs.

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.

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Construction Update - Day 25 | 100K House Blog
November 5, 2008 at 11:09 am

{ 5 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Kevin D October 14, 2008 at 8:27 pm

How deep does the pink XPS go?

Who told Tino to put it on the inside? (Two schools of thought here)

What’s going to insulate the 8″ of concrete above the pink board?

2 chad October 14, 2008 at 8:49 pm

Excellent questions Kevin. I was actually working on answers to these very early this AM and first thing with Brian Pearce at the site.

As far as insulating the slab for radiant heat, we have three common options that are considered best practice.

1. Inside the foundation wall all the way down to the footer as show creating a break between the slab.
2. Outside of the foundation wall from the top to the bottom of the wall
3. On the edge of the slab in between it and the foundation wall, plus beneath the slab at least 4′ around the perimeter.

It looks like we are choosing option number one, but in reality we are going with option three. There was a slight error on the construction drawings that left out any insulation on the edge of the slab. This is a big no no for radiant heated slabs and something I should’ve caught months ago.

Once the foundation wall was poured against the existing house, we could no longer pursue the outside the wall insulation method which was our favorite option due to simplicity. We needed to turn to the inside the foundation wall method, but could not go straight up as we needed the edges of the slab to be supported by the foundation walls for a more secure slab in the long run. To compensate, we are putting only 1″ (R-5) insulation the edge of the slab and 2″ (R-10) under the slab. This will allow the slab to sit on 2″ of insulation that are resting on the foundation walls around the entire perimeter. Not ideal, but much better than no insulation on the edge.

We realized that there are finishing issues to either option if done correctly from the beginning. One the exterior you need to protect the insulation from backfill and critters. You also need to have a detail that protects it from the elements and does not make it appear as an ugly bump out from the rest of the facade. There are products and methods to this, but they add cost and time…

The issue with the inside the foundation wall method is that you would end up with a lovely 2″ border of exposed insulation around the perimeter of your finished slab on the inside. This is not an issue when covering the slab with hardwood or similar flooring, but with an exposed slab it is an issue.

I am hoping the solution to all of this will be solved by the four letter acronym – FPSF. More on this in an upcoming post.

3 Kevin D October 14, 2008 at 9:37 pm

Ain’t it fun on the bleeding edge of green building?

1. That one inch slab perimeter foam will bug you at the front and back door openings, otherwise, the wall system will almost cover it.

2. At 55 degrees avg. temp., the ground looks like an infinite heat sink to your slab at 85 degrees. Please put 1″ of foam in the middle of the slab in addition to the 2″ around your 4′ perimeter! The summer benefits don’t outweigh the winter heat loss.

The scenario you describe above, however, would be a good way to do an unheated slab in a basement. Once you put the pipes in the slab, you need the foam.

4 chad October 14, 2008 at 10:23 pm

Lots of fun! What about the ground acting as a heat sink in the middle of the slab and regulating the temperature swings? I’ve heard this is a good practice. I’ve also heard the other side of the story…

This is my biggest pet peave in green building research. Everyone has a different opinion and everyone is smart and makes valid points. Who do you believe? We need a comprehensive and authoritative single source. Who wants to take on this task?

5 Rob October 15, 2008 at 3:14 pm

HA! What a task that would be indeed! The simple answer in my mind is that if you are heating the slab you should be insulating it. You are wasting money throwing heat into the earth otherwise. What benefits could come from not insulating? If you are worried about temperature swings during the summer, your exterior envelope should be regulating that well enough with the super insulated SIPS.

2nd issue – I believe that you should have insulated on the outside of wall up to the top of the slab, stopping where the SIPS start. This would have provided a continous insulation barrier. The exposed insulation could then be covered with a finish, stucco or the like (detailed correctly).
FPSF will not solve this problem necessarily. You could also use ICF’s and have the insulation integrated right into the form. No form removal and no extra bracing (if you are shorter than 4′-6′ I believe).

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