Friday, April 13, 2012

Foundations, Waterproofing, Piers, Modern day construction changes to custom home building

Modern Day Construction for custom homes Part 1

In today’s modern world of construction things are changing year to year faster than they did decade to decade in any other previous time period. In this multi part series I will traverse through an entire house starting with the foundation and working my way up to the roof and then to the finishing’s. I will explain what has changed in the last twenty years in custom home building.

One thing that you should be able to take away from this is how important it is to not just hire the right general contractor to build your custom home but how important it is to hire one that is up on today’s building methods.

Here are some changes that have come along in the last 20 years alone;


Twenty years ago the most common foundations were block and poured concrete walls.

Today there are numerous different types of Insulated Concrete Forms or ICF’s. ICF’s are two pieces of insulation that are held together with a plastic web, you pour concrete down between the insulation to create the wall. This gives you an instant insulated high performance foundation wall. ICF’s are sound proof, weather proof, bug and rodent proof and are actually fire proof.

Poured concrete walls are still used because of the cost savings compared to ICF’s but block walls are almost never used in custom home construction. Resent changes to building codes have made using poured concrete walls more expensive because of the amount of insulation that you are required to have on the inside of the walls.


Twenty years ago the common thing to do was to tar the outside of the foundation to damp proof it.

Today we use a stretchable waterproof membrane that has a dimple board that overlaps with a filter cloth attached to the outside of it for added protection. This makes the foundation walls completely waterproof instead of just damp proof; also this new product does not dry out after 15 to 20 years like tar does. Tar can be damaged when tree roots or stones rub against the foundation, the new dimple board that is installed over waterproof membrane acts as a guard against these natural hazards.

You are not able to install a tar layer over any ICF foundation wall. Those using membranes become the only way you can waterproof a high performance wall like an ICF.


Twenty years ago the common thing to do was pour concrete into sauna tubes. If the pier required heavier support they either framed a plywood box and filled it with concrete or built it out of concrete block after framing and pouring a footing for it to sit on.

Today we use preformed footing tubes. They are made out of a hardened plastic in the shape of a giant bell. They flare at the bottom to act like a footing. The advantage to this is that you can bury the whole tube without having to first fill it with concrete. This way you don’t have to worry about when the inspector is going to come around to make sure that they are at the proper depth. The old sauna tubes where made out of a paper product and would collapse if they got wet from either ground water or rain. These new “footing tubes” even have depth markings on the outside of them so that the inspector doesn’t have to pull out their tape.

Look for part 2 of Modern Day construction coming soon...

Rob Abbott
Operations Manager
Village Builders Inc.

1 comment:

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