Common construction terms 3 Foundation
Have you have ever been on a construction site talking to your contractor and been totally lost in the terms that they are using? Well I’m here to help; here are some common terms that contractor’s use that you might not understand.
• Poured wall. This refers to a concrete wall, usually the foundation wall. It is made out of concrete. Wood forms are erected and then concrete is poured in the middle of them. The wood is stripped away leaving a solid concrete wall.
• Block wall. This refers to a foundation wall that has been built out of concrete blocks. Concrete blocks are placed one on top of the other with a half lap (mortar is placed between each block) until you reach the desired height.
• ICF. ICF stands for Insulated Concrete Form. This is a Styrofoam block system, they are placed one on top of the other overlapping the joints until you have reached the desired height. Concrete is poured down the middle of the block until it is completely filled. The Styrofoam panels are held together with plastic webbing that stays in place creating an instant insulated wall.
• Footings. Footings are placed below your concrete, block or ICF walls. They are engineered to a certain size and dimensions. They sometimes have rebar installed to help strengthen them against heavy loads. They are also placed anywhere in the foundation that requires reinforcement because of point loads and bearing walls. Footings must be placed on undisturbed soil.
• Poured Floors. This refers to the concrete floor that will be poured in the basement or crawl space of your home. The floor is poured about 4” thick and usually covers all areas up to the foundation walls.
• Rebar. These are pieces of metal that are round and are a certain dimension like 10mm or 15mm in thickness. They are placed in concrete walls, footings and floors to help strengthen them and to help avoid major cracking.
• Expansion joint. This is a piece of plastic or a cut line in the concrete floor. This does not stop the concrete floor from cracking; it controls the cracking by giving it a place to crack, where it will not be seen.
• Vapour Barrier. Vapour barrier is installed below the concrete floor to stop any water from penetrating through the floor into the basement or crawl space. Vapour barrier is made of 6mm plastic.
• Super Six. This is another name for the plastic that they use for vapour barrier. It is because it is 6mm thick.
• Damp proofing. This is when the exterior of the foundation is sprayed with a layer of a tar product. This is the most basic form of waterproofing. It is the cheapest and is also the one that fails most often.
• Membrane waterproofing. This is when you either use rolled on membrane waterproofing or a sprayed on membrane that is installed on the exterior of the foundation walls. This is an excellent waterproofing acting almost like a pool liner to stop water penetration.
• Dimple Board. This is a plastic product that is usually installed on top of waterproofing to help protect it from stone or root damage. It also helps filter sand away from the foundation.
• Sump pump. A sump pump is a water pump that is installed in the basement. It is usually installed below the basement concrete floor. Its job is to move water from under and around the house outside and away from the building.
• Sump pail. This is a plastic pail that is placed in the ground below the basement floor before the concrete floor is poured. It is designed to have a sump pump installed in it. The pail is designed to fill with water and when the water reaches a certain level the sump pump removes the water from the pail by pumping it outside of the building through an exhaust pipe.
• Weepers. These are 4” plastic pipes that have holes in them (to allow water to seep in) and have a cloth sock wrapped around them to prevent sand and silt from getting in.
• Big O. Big O is the same thing as weepers just a different name. The job of “big O” is to collect water from around the foundation of the house and allow it to flow into the sump pail.
• Drain line. This is when you install a piece of Big O that runs from the edge of the house foundation away to a lower point. This creates a natural drain for water, allowing your sump pump to not work as hard. The drain line is usually connected to the house weepers.
• French drain. This is a drain that is created with gravel with filter cloth installed on the top. It creates a natural run off for water that is building up pressure around the house foundation.
• Sewage Ejection pits. This is a large pail that is installed below the concrete floor. It is a sealed unit and is installed when some of the plumbing in the house has to be installed lower than the municipal sewer lines.
The S.E.P. has a pump in it that pushes sewage up until it can freely flow into the municipal sewer lines.
This should help you understand what your contractor is talking about the next time you have a meeting with them. Look for part 4 of common construction terms, coming soon.
Village Builders Inc.