Types of Foundation Used When Building a Home

There are different types of foundation available and each is unique to the soil that it would be constructed on. Let’s take at a look at some foundations and how they are constructed.

Traditional strip or Orthodox

This is the oldest and most common form of foundation. Method of construction is, the trench is excavated, concrete is placed in the bottom and the wall is built on it. The width is governed by the relationship between the imposed loads and the bearing capacity of the soil; and by the practical necessity for operative to work in the trench.

Wide Strip Foundations

This foundation is used where the load bearing capacity of the ground is low. For example in: marshy ground, soft clay silt and made-up ground.

Weft strip foundations are:

o A variation of the traditional strip

o It spreads the load over a larger area of soil

o It is usual to provide transverse and longitudinal reinforcement to the withstand the tension that will arise from the building load

o The depth below the ground can be the same as for traditional or orthodox strip foundation

Inverted ‘T’ Beam

This is one of the best; you don’t have to worry about the soil.

o It is an alternative to the wide strip foundation

o It is a form of wide strip foundation with an up stand beam

o It carries both transverse and longitudinal reinforcement

o This Type of foundation s used in expansive clay soils

Deep Strip or Trench Fill Foundation

o A variation to the traditional strip

o It was first introduced to reduce the expense entailed in constructing the traditional strip foundation to depths of nine hundred millimeters or more in shrinkable soils and to counteract the variable soil conditions.

This type a foundation can prove economic. Why?

o When excavated by machine the volume of excavated earth is reduced

o Trench is reduced

o Back fill and surplus soil are also reduced

o There is also time saving due to quicker completion

o Reinforcement if necessary

Stepped Foundations

Foundation must be horizontal unless of course they are required to resist inclined thrust from walls or some arched forms. To put strip foundations on a sloping site at the same level will mean deep trenches for those on higher since they will be at a good depth below ground level, necessitating excessive walling in the soil.

The excessive building into the soil may be reduced by:

i. Cut only

ii. Fill only

iii. Cut and fill, so as to provide a horizontal plane to build on or stepping the foundations of the wall down the slope, parallel to the slope. These are called step foundations.

Isolated Column Foundations (also called pad foundations)

Isolated column foundations is an independent square or rectangular concrete slab with a pier or column bearing in the centre of it. Usually this is used to support framed structures on uniform, firm and stable soils.

Continuous Column Foundation

Continuous column foundation is a concrete strip carrying a line of columns. Such a foundation may be used because where:

1. Spacing in one direction and loading of columns are such that the edges of adjacent individual pads touch or overlap.

2. The spread of foundation at right angles to the line of columns is restricted, say by site boundary building and so prevents the independent pads of adequate size.

Combined Column Foundations

The foundations of adjacent columns are combined when:

1. A column is close to the boundary of the site that a separate foundation would be eccentrically loaded and

2. Where foundations of adjacent columns are linked to resist uplift, overturning or opposing forces

Because the base of the column adjacent to the site boundary cannot spread uniformly around the column it is combined with the base of an adjacent column to form a combined or balanced base foundation.

Building a Panelized Home – Pros & Cons of Building With Panelized Walls

Panelized framing walls can be a godsend. Or, they can be a pain in the butt. With a little forethought and planning, you can ensure that you experience the advantages.

 

Most home builders use some form of panelization. Framers on site at a “stick-built” home, typically build the framework in panels and tilt them up and into place. But, that’s not what I’m talking about. A panelized home is where a factory pre-builds these panels, in various lengths, and delivers them to the building site.

 

Will Pre-Panelized Walls Work for You?

 

If you’re an owner-builder who is going to be involved in some labor and looking for labor cost savings, panelization may be ideal for you. If, on the other hand, you intend to hire a crew of experienced professionals to frame a complicated home structure, you should probably stay away from pre-panelizing unless the framers prefer and ask for them.

 

The following Pros and Cons will help you decide whether or not to use them as well as ensure quality if you do.

 

PRO: Speed. A well panelized home that the on-site framers are prepared to work with, can allow for the home to be framed in as little as one third the normal framing time. The benefit is money saved.

 

CON: Shipping & Handling. Panels must be shipped to your site … sometimes from great distances. This can be costly and cause damage during shipment. Also, the panels can be difficult to store, move around the site, and then into place – especially on two story homes.

 

PRO: Many Panel Choices. Traditional 2×4 & 2×6 wood studs are popular but you can choose steel framing studs, SIPs (Structural Insulated Panels), and other types as well.

 

CON: Dealing With Issues. Rarely is a panelized framing package error free. These mistakes will drive an experienced framing crew crazy if they were not in favor of using pre-built panels. And, getting the manufacturers of the panels to correct their errors quickly can be a real chore.

 

PRO: Quality & Uniformity. Panels are made in controlled environments to exacting specifications and usually utilize the better quality materials. They often incorporate better and more uniform framing practices than many homes built on-site. These advantages can give you a stronger home in the face of nature, and a more square home that makes it easier to hang cabinets and doors, and lay tile and wood floors.

 

CON: Difficult to Ensure Quality. While the advantages stated are extremely valuable, it’s difficult to ensure that you’ll receive what is promised. You may need experienced professionals to help you analyze their framing methods as well as inspect what is delivered to you.

 

PRO: Reducing Onsite Waste. Panelizing can be a green building approach. Limiting waste and/or using Structural Insulated Panels give you that advantage.

 

CON: Panelized Homes are not Always Kits. Just ordering a panelized framing package is not going to streamline your entire homebuilding process. If that’s what you want, use a kit home. Kit homes usually panelize your walls but panelization factories don’t always provide complete kits. Be sure you know what you’re ordering.

 

You Do Have Options

 

As you can see, you have options. But it pays to remember that you also have the option to not use pre-panelized framing walls. The advantages may be insignificant or even non-existent in your situation.

 

My advice is to honestly assess your situation and goals. Keep researching your options. Hire a home-building coach to help decide. Then go in the direction that best serves your needs.

Things to Consider While Building a Custom Home

What though crosses your mind when you hear the word ‘home’? To many, the word ‘home’ signifies dream or rather a dream come true. Home is a safe haven; a place of shelter where you would like to come back after a day out working and toiling hard. So, definitely, the home is something that you would like to be custom- made. Your home would be the ideal expression of your personality, your aspirations, and your life. Construction of a home is something that you would like to be flawless. The essential point is that you should have a proper architectural plan and you should supervise the process with full sincerity and time.

Salient features that you need to keep in mind

In order to make sure that the construction of your home goes on smoothly and you get your desired house built, there are certain points that you need to keep in mind. They are as follows:

  • Choosing the right and apt construction partner is the first point that you should ensure. The construction agent should be able to understand your ideas and demands.
  • It is your duty to choose the right kind of materials for the construction of your house. Depending on the geographical and climatic factors of the region, you should choose the right kind of paints that you would like to use for your house.
  • You should ensure that there exists a proper agreement between you and the construction agency which has all the terms and conditions mentioned clearly.
  • You should have a clear idea of the monetary budget that you have for the construction of your house. It is generally observed and seen that the expenditure exceed the budget estimate. So, you should have sufficient finance in store so that you may use the money in case of any kind of emergency.
  • Use of earthquake resistant iron rods is very significant as this would serve as a protection guard in case of the occurrence of earthquake.
  • Any kind of construction process requires large amount of water. So, you need to ensure that there is a continuous and sufficient supply of water so that the builders do not suffer from any kind of water deficiency.

The ins and outs of the home construction process

The process of home construction has undergone several pioneering and mind- boggling changes since the last few years. This is because the concept of building a home has changed:

  • The promoters and architects are now applying the latest ideas in shaping your dream home. This has changed the outlook altogether.
  • The construction of home now involves the use of finer technologies; earthquake resistant iron rods and exclusive fine finish paints.
  • The interior designs have also undergone revolutionary changes. The new home builders are now capable of actually reading your mind and thus, they are able to make much better constructions. This became possible with the advent of technology and the rampant use of the internet.

With this technological advancement, the home builders of the new generation are able to get access to ideas from all across the globe that helps them to convert your dream construction into a marvellous reality.

Some Tips In Building A Green Home

If you are thinking of joining the advocacy of going green, what better way to do it than to start building a green home. You will need to follow certain environmental practices in building a green home – such as those that help lessen (negative) effects on the environment.

First thing you need to consider is building materials. Building a environment friendly home would require materials that are eco-friendly and compliant with the current standards in constructing green homes. You may browse the internet for details regarding the compliances and product info to help you where to get and how to use them. If you have a contractor in mind, make sure that the company offers services specifically for building a green home.

It is imperative to prioritize sustainable materials such as those that can be recycled or natural materials that can be replenished due to their growth rate. Hardwood from large old trees should not be cut down and used, since they take years to grow and the earth beneath will also be affected when they are taken out. Using alternative wood such as bamboo is better since this specie can grow rapidly.

Lightweight concrete is a type of concrete that has been used in building a healthy home for years. However, this type of concrete is not as strong, but it can perform as well as traditional concrete and can hold up to any weather condition. It is often used as home insulation and it’s also capable of retarding fire.

Prefabricated panels for homes are also available and they can be ordered and purchased at reasonable amounts. Generally, they are similarly priced to regular building materials that are used for a typical home. And they must also get approval from organizations that monitor environmental compliances.

In order to have less impact on the environment, building green homes employ appropriate architectural design. Typical green homes are smaller than regular homes like those that are found in rural areas and large counties. Styles may vary from contemporary, bungalow, Victorian, ranch style and many others.

The important thing about building a green home is that it will help lessen the negative effects on the environment in general. There are many factors that you need to consider such as energy and water consumptions, recycling and using eco-friendly materials. Generally, once you have these factors implemented on your green home, you’ll be able to help reduce harmful impacts on the environment and on the earth.

How to Estimate the Cost of Building a New Home

This will serve as a help guide by providing some tips and techniques for estimating the cost of building a new home. As an expert residential estimator there are many things to consider before you begin estimating.

Construction estimating can be difficult and it does require a high level of accuracy and detail. It also requires good math skills and a little geometry knowledge. It requires the ability to read and understand construction drawings and details and how they are applied. Basic construction knowledge helps and being familiar with the local building codes.

You may want to enroll in a construction estimating course at the local college or technical school. Another option is to purchase an estimating manual from your local bookstore or go to estimating.org which offers online courses and has a bookstore.

One of the rules that I have learned along the way is the old saying, “measure twice cut once.” Whenever I do a takeoff or an estimate I always follow this rule in order to help minimize mistakes.

What will you need to put an estimate together?

You will need a notepad, a calculator, an architectural scale, and an engineering scale. These are the basic tools you need to put an estimate together.

Architectural & Structural Drawings

Now you are ready to open the plans and begin to review them. The easiest thing to do is look them over and get a feel for the basic building concept. You should get familiar with the information that is contained on each sheet.

Most construction projects have a set of architectural drawings and a set of structural drawings. I will explain the difference between the two.

It is important that the plans are to scale and have all the required details and wall sections needed to properly estimate from.

What is typically included in a complete set of architectural plans? The drawings at a minimum need to contain the following sheets: a title/cover sheet, a site plan, a floor plan, a foundation plan, four elevations, a roof plan, an electrical plan, a sheet with a typical wall section, a sheet with the window and door schedules, and a sheet with the necessary building and architectural details.

The structural drawings are drawn by a structural engineer, not the architect, unless the architectural firm has an in-house engineer. Any interior shear wall or bearing wall is detailed on these drawings.

The engineer calculates all the uplift and bearing loads of the roof trusses on all the interior and exterior. After doing the calculations they determine which walls are shear or bearing or both and what is required to properly support those uplift and or bearing loads. The engineer will put a structural note on any wall that is bearing or shear. The note will indicate the sheet number and detail number illustrating how that wall needs to be built.

A load bearing wall for example could have a thickened concrete footer with two pieces of steel and the wall above it may need to be framed out of southern yellow pine versus spruce with special metal hardware. These should be highlighted on the plan so they will not be overlooked. Sometimes the hardware called out by the engineer is a special order and can take several weeks to get. So if you wait until the framing package needs to ordered and there are a two or three shear walls with special order hardware it could delay the construction.

You need to make enough copies of the architectural and structural plans for multiple subcontractors and suppliers bidding the job. To save you money, ask your architect and engineer to convert the drawing files to a PDF file. This will save you time as well and make it convenient because you can email them to as many subcontractors and vendors as you like.

Specifications

A list of product specifications must be provided so all the subcontractor and vendors are bidding apples to apples. This is a list detailing all the products and finishes you want in your new home. It does not make sense to send the plans out to bid without a set of specifications. Without this, the bids you receive will not be apples to apples. Then you will need to have them all rebid the project. It wastes a lot of time and creates a lot of unnecessary work for the subcontractors. Remember these guys do not need practice bidding and some of them may not submit a bid without a set of specifications included. Therefore, everything from paint colors to the floor finishes need to be selected. They need to be listed on the plan or on a separate document.

Doing the Takeoffs

It is too technical to put in a written guide how to quantify the concrete, masonry, lumber, and shingles just to name a few. For example let’s assume you need to quantify the masonry block on a single story block home. You have to know how the wall is assembled which includes the ability to visualize and understand construction methods. If the exterior walls have multiple heights, a regular block (8x8x16) needs to be added and a lintel block needs to be deducted in each location where the plate heights change. If some of the walls are on a 45 degree angle you need to be able to know whether to estimate an angle block or butterfly block. The door and window openings need a certain quantity of regular blocks deducted plus a half block every other course on each side of each opening. You could have too much of one size block and either not enough or some units not accounted for at all. These inaccuracies will throw off your budget and cost you time and money. This ability and knowledge can not come from a book but through hands on experience combined with years of estimating experience.

If you decide to quantify the materials yourself I suggest you refer to Walker’s Building Estimator’s Reference Book, frankrwalker.com which has instructions on how to estimate the quantities of concrete, masonry, lumber, drywall, etc. It is considered the bible for construction estimators and it is one of required books included in the study guide for most state contractor’s exam. Just keep in mind that these reference books do not have tips and tricks as well as real world experience as explained above.

You can employ the help of your subcontractors bidding the work or your suppliers. You may pay more for their product or service or you can hire us. Either way you are paying for someone to review the plans and quantify what is needed to build the project.

If you have your lumber yard quantify the material remember he is trying to win the job so he may provide a takeoff that is too tight. This does not benefit you if you have to keep reordering more lumber. The obvious answer to this is to have your framer put together the lumber list for you. Well that does not work either because he will over order so he does not run out of material and have to make additional trips to finish. They want to finish as fast as possible so it can get inspected and they can get paid. The bottom line is neither are working in your best interest.

I recommend you do not attempt to quantify the materials yourself. I have outlined valid reasons why. It is very technical and requires someone with years of estimating experience combined with hands on field experience.

Soliciting Bids

This part of preparing an estimate can be done by most anyone. I suggest you contact your local builder’s association to get subcontractor referrals or use Angie’s List, angieslist.com which prescreens contractors as well

You may have heard the term RFQ – Request for Quote. You want to solicit at least contractors. Most people will say three bids, so why do I recommend five bids? Let’s say you contact five contractors and all five contractors bid the project. You got to figure one will be the high bid and one will be the low bid. So those should be set to the side because chances are the low bid is probably missing something and the high bid is priced too high. The remaining three bids should be reviewed thoroughly to make sure you are comparing apples to apples.

When you contact all the subcontractors that you want to bid your project be sure to give them a bid due date. That way you do not have to chase them. Give them a reasonable amount of time to review the plans and specifications, typically a week or two.

Analyzing the Bids

First organize all your bids by trade, such as putting all your electrical bids together. A three ring binder with dividers and tabbed with each category is a good way to organize all the bids.

Once you receive the bids you need to read them carefully and review them against the plans and specifications. They should have the project information and the date. They need to be detailed and itemized. The cabinet bid should not say “cabinets”. Instead it should list and quantify all the cabinets by finish, style, size, and location, example 15 lnft of 42″ oak raised panel kitchen cabinets, 1/ea 60″ melamine master bath cabinet, 1/ea 36″ melamine hall bath cabinet, etc. If it does not include the countertops it should state that so there is no misrepresentation.

When a proposal needs to be revised, make sure it states the revision date or states “revised”. That way when you compile the bids and you need to refer back to them you will be looking at the latest one.

The proposals should also indicate workmanship and warranty. All this is important, especially if the contractor does not perform and mediation or worse litigation is required.

How to Negotiate the Best Price

Once you determine the three competitive bids the hard part is negotiating with the contractors. You have to assume that all the quotes will be inflated with the understanding you will negotiate less. Therefore, you need to get them down as low as you can to the real number. I always ask my subcontractors and vendors if the bid is negotiable. Remember it never hurts to ask, the worse they can say is no. And if they say yes, then I ask them what is the maximum they can cut their bid. They normally respond with, “how much do I need to cut it to get the job” and again I put it back on them by saying, “the maximum you can cut your price”. Never name a price first! You should already have a budget of what you can afford to spend on each item. You never know whether or not they would be willing to do it for less than that.

Once they lower their bids and you determine the low bidder you need to compare warranty, workmanship, and references. Price is important, but if they can not finish the job the price does not mean anything. You definitely need to check both project references and credit references. The bottom line is you want the best contractor for the least amount of money.

Preparing an Estimate

Once you have awarded the job to each subcontractor you will want to prepare an estimate. I recommend using Microsoft Excel to organize your estimate. It is the easiest and mostly widely used spreadsheet application, especially in construction.

It helps organize your estimate. You can use a separate worksheet for each trade within the Excel workbook. You can enter all the material lists and bid amounts you receive. You can track the job to make sure you are on budget. You can email your local suppliers your material lists so they can enter their unit prices and they can email it back to you.

One of the sheets needs to be the estimate summary which has the total cost for each phase or trade. It should include your preconstruction costs and direct construction costs.

It should have the estimate total at the bottom.

There are endless possibilities you can do with Excel and the level of detail is up to you.

We have for sale blank estimates that are in Excel. These are templates that we use which can help you calculate some of the material quantities and can also be used to prepare your estimate. They contain prebuilt formulas for calculating concrete, steel, masonry, and lumber. All you need to do is enter counts and lengths where indicated and the quantities are calculated for you. Contact us to send you a sample template.

Conclusion

I hope this has provided you will some good information on how to prepare an estimate if you are building a new home. We are available to answer any questions you may have. We can help you put together an estimate for any type of construction project, big or small, residential or commercial.