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Layout size - big vs complex - attempting to capture the immensity of the prototype

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Posted by ATLANTIC CENTRAL on Thursday, August 9, 2018 5:21 AM

richhotrain

 

 
ATLANTIC CENTRAL
 

It's hard for me to imagine a housewith only 7 windows. My new house has 22, the big Queen Anne has 54.....

What kind of house is this? How is it built? What material are the current windows? Are they casements, double hung, sliders?

 

 

It depends on how you count "windows".

 

When we built our current home 20 years ago, I still clearly recall our builder telling me that there were 44 windows in our home in response to my request to upgrade from Norco to Andersen. Said it would be hugely expensive to upgrade.

I believed him and decided to stick with Norco. Later, as I began to replace the inferior Norco windows, I realized how he counted 44 windows. There are lot fewer than 44 window "openings" cut into the walls, but I have casement windows with two or three "windows" in each opening in most rooms. Actual openings total 16.

Rich

 

True enough, but here in the 1901 Queen Anne, there are only three locations with mulled pairs/tripples in the same rough framed openings.

But from a cost standpoint, a factory (or field installed) mulled pair is twice as expensive as a single, that's two windows.

I would possibly agree that a factory mulled pair of casements is one "window" operationally and aesthetically, the industry still considers it two "units".

In the case of my Queen Anne, the windows are virtually all double hung, and even those mulled together are pretty widely sperated because they required weight pockets between them, so the mullion trim is 6 to 9 inches wide.

Traditionally, the industry considers the two sash in a double hung window to be a "unit" and each casement sash to be a "unit", they count sash openings.

The Queen Anne unit count is actually 55, but I don't really count the stained glass fixed window diamond in the stairway.

Just ask my wife who painted the 100 plus pieces of replacement sash before I installed them.

I did not count the basement windows, or 6 door transom/sidelight windows in that 54 count.......

Lots of windows......

Sheldon

    

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Posted by richhotrain on Thursday, August 9, 2018 5:26 AM

I agree with you, Sheldon, on casement windows. There may be three in an opening, but each is replaceable without touching or interfering with the other two.

Rich

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Posted by Doughless on Thursday, August 9, 2018 6:08 AM

7j43k

If you have an "open" ceiling, you have a LOT of surfaces to collect dust:  pipes, wiring, ducting.....

And there's no reason to assume it's all going to stay up there.  Not to mention possibly "stuff" coming through the subfloor gaps, if there are any.  A ceiling, either solid or dropped, will minimize dust.  

And, if it's white, make lighting more even and efficient.

 

Ed

 

That was my concern as well.  I've seen open ceilings with everything painted black and it looks great.  But those were rec rooms/ game rooms.  Even in commercial places like bars and restaurants it works well.  

A train room needs to be free from dust as much as possible. 

- Douglas

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Posted by ATLANTIC CENTRAL on Thursday, August 9, 2018 6:20 AM

richhotrain

I agree with you, Sheldon, on casement windows. There may be three in an opening, but each is replaceable without touching or interfering with the other two.

Rich

 

Rich,

When it cones to replacing windows, there are a lot of variables. When we restored the Queen Anne, we did not replace the "window", we only replaced the sash in the windows. The jamb, sill, interior and exterior casing/trim is all original and undisturbed. 

And most importantly, the glass size and sash details are architecturally correct and are a good match to the orginals. We used a product commonly called a "sash kit".

Most current slide in replacement widow systens destroy the "architecture" of the window. 

And installing new construction windows in an existing building can be very intrusive to trim and siding.

Sheldon

    

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Posted by SeeYou190 on Thursday, August 9, 2018 6:21 AM

ATLANTIC CENTRAL
It's hard for me to imagine a housewith only 7 windows. My new house has 22, the big Queen Anne has 54..... What kind of house is this? How is it built? What material are the current windows? Are they casements, double hung, sliders?

.

It is a typical late 1980s Florida house. Concrete block construction, poorly executed Pseudo-Spanish styling. Miami Vice interior fixtures. I cannot wait to finally paint over the pink exterior. There are very few, and small windows, to meet insulation requirements and lower costs.

.

The front window is almost 10 feet wide, and in the back I have a 16 foot wall of sliding glass doors that all open into recessed openings in the building, so it a little more open than it sounds. The front of the house faces West, so when designing a Florida house, that is where you put the fewest windows, or the afternoon/evening sun will kill you.

.

There is one window in the front, three on the North side, two on the East, and one facing South.

.

The lack of windows makes adding a train room much easier. There was only one small window in the old Master Bedroom, and it will be on the staging side of the layout design, so no window opening problems at all with my 11 by 22 space.

.

.

-Kevin

.

Wink Happily modeling my STRATTON & GILLETTE RAILROAD. A Class A line located in a personal fantasy world of semi-plausible nonsense on Tuesday, August 3rd, 1954.

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Posted by ATLANTIC CENTRAL on Thursday, August 9, 2018 7:02 AM

So Kevin, is it a wood frame house with dryvit stucco, or a masonry house?

Are the existing windows wood, or metal, or vinyl?

Are they casements?

Sheldon

    

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Posted by SeeYou190 on Thursday, August 9, 2018 9:54 AM

ATLANTIC CENTRAL
So Kevin, is it a wood frame house with dryvit stucco, or a masonry house?

.

It is what is called a "CBS" house, which I think stands for Concrete Block w/Stucco. I removed the hideous arches out in front of the door immediately after buying the house. The rest of the 1980s nonsense is finally going away as well.

.

The windows are metal framed horizonally sliding that I cannot emphasize enough are GARBAGE. The only trim is a marble shelf at the bottom of the window, typical for 1980s Florida.

.

I do not know what a casement is.

.

The roof is already upgraded (and battle tested) to Category V standards, CBS is by default CATV, so the windows are all that needs to be replaced for storm safety.

.

My lot is only 2 feet above sea level, but the house is elevated 8 feet above street grade, so I am storm surge safe at CATV levels for flooding on north side strikes.

.

We are in the heart of storm season right now.

.

-Kevin

.

Wink Happily modeling my STRATTON & GILLETTE RAILROAD. A Class A line located in a personal fantasy world of semi-plausible nonsense on Tuesday, August 3rd, 1954.

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Posted by ATLANTIC CENTRAL on Thursday, August 9, 2018 10:30 AM

Kevin,

Ok, that tells me a lot, I now know how your windows are installed and how to replace them.

A casement is a more vertical window hinged on the side, that opens with a crank.

I only know a little about you storm requirements, but I would think you hsve local manufacturers making high quality vinyl frame replacement windows with the necessary specs.

Your old windows need to come completely out, and new ones installed. This is not generally the case with wood windows in wooden houses.

Because your new windows need to be very close to the exact size of tbe old windows, an "off the shelf" product is unlikely.

Custom wood windows can be very expenive, but are generally the best quality. Exterior surfaces are typically aluminum, fiberglass or vinyl clad.

About the train room a/c, a window unit is a bad idea, better to use a thru the wall or mini split system.

Sheldon

    

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Posted by maxman on Thursday, August 9, 2018 10:33 AM
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Posted by SeeYou190 on Thursday, August 9, 2018 12:10 PM

ATLANTIC CENTRAL
Because your new windows need to be very close to the exact size of tbe old windows, an "off the shelf" product is unlikely.

.

Actually, they are all in the catalogue of "standard" sized window openings in concrete block homes. It seems since the house is made out of "legos" that are 8 by 8 by 16, there are only a few sizes of window openings possible.

.

Lucky me, because that saves some serious dollars over custom built units.

.

-Kevin

.

Wink Happily modeling my STRATTON & GILLETTE RAILROAD. A Class A line located in a personal fantasy world of semi-plausible nonsense on Tuesday, August 3rd, 1954.

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Posted by emdmike on Thursday, August 9, 2018 7:59 PM

I am cursed/blessed with a small train room, 9 foot by just over 8 foot.  Right now I am working on my micro traction layout for show duty.  But under a 4x8 sheet of plywood is the beginnings of a shelf type layout going around the walls for a future HO layout when I have enough "stuff" stockpiled up to build it.  Yes the curves will be way to tight, but like Sheldon, I will be working within the confines of my space.  Our whole house is 975 sq foot and that includes the small 1 car attached garage.  Tons of others told me to go with N scale, but HO is small enough for my eyesite.  I think, some of the complaints against those with huge layouts is with the higher cost to todays trains(perceived/real or not) causes many modelers to want to see smaller high detailed layouts and other ways to beat the high costs of model trains.  Not all have access to excellent train shows or shops that get in estates, both are a great way to beat high costs.  When I build my layout, it will be a series of scenes that I saw many times riding a festival excursion train as a child in Logansport, Indiana.  But I am going to proto freelance that railroad beyond the yearly excursion to be more like a shortline.    Mike the Aspie

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Posted by ATLANTIC CENTRAL on Friday, August 10, 2018 12:16 AM

SeeYou190

 

 
ATLANTIC CENTRAL
Because your new windows need to be very close to the exact size of tbe old windows, an "off the shelf" product is unlikely.

 

.

Actually, they are all in the catalogue of "standard" sized window openings in concrete block homes. It seems since the house is made out of "legos" that are 8 by 8 by 16, there are only a few sizes of window openings possible.

.

Lucky me, because that saves some serious dollars over custom built units.

.

-Kevin

.

 

I'm sure there are people in the window industry that cater to that market, but there are no specific industry standards on window rough opening sizes.

Historically, windows are sized based on "sash sizes" and each manufacturer will then have slightly different rough opening or "unit sizes" based on the design of his product.

Again, I am not refering specificly to sliders like you have, but to all types of windows.

If you are building a home here, you will need to know the brand and type of windows before you frame the openings in the walls.

So if all of your windows are even units of concrete block (refered to as CMU's, concrete masonry units), and there are vendors making products in your region for that market, great.

Concrete block individual homes are rare in this region. They enjoyed some popularity 50-70 years ago, but most had brick vineer exteriors, not stucco.

And few houses here are build in the style of your home.

Most individual homes here are wood framed, even if they have brick veneer exteriors.

Stucco and Dryvit are not very common here.

Sheldon

    

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Posted by 7j43k on Friday, August 10, 2018 9:30 AM

7j43k

 

 
Doughless

I was commenting more upon codes back in the day.

My basement is full of romex strung along the ceiling, rendering the space permanently nonliving space unless I install a drop ceiling or hire an electrician to punch it through the joists, which is a lot of work that should have been done when the house was built, IMO.  I hate old building codes.

 

 

 

 

I seriously doubt the NEC EVER allowed romex to be installed under joists in a basement.

I think you are the proud owner of non-permit wiring.  Or perhaps your inspector was incompetent or bought.

There is a terrific history of electrical wiring here:

https://www.scribd.com/doc/18355180/Electrical-Wiring-History

 

Also, I just bought a copy of the 1947 NEC.  When it shows, I'll see what it says. 

Ed 

 

 

 

My copy has arrived.  The requirements for romex on ceiling joists in unfinished basements are the same as currently.

Running 14 and 12 and 10 gauge romex underneath those joists is a violation, and has been at least since 1947.

There was not in 1947, and there is not currently, any exception for utility rooms and storage spaces or any other "special room" in basements.

 

Ed

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Posted by ATLANTIC CENTRAL on Friday, August 10, 2018 9:46 AM

I knew that, I just got some popcorn while you guys discussed it, and again the wires in the picture are low voltage and will be moved....

Sheldon

    

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Posted by 7j43k on Friday, August 10, 2018 9:58 AM

Sheldon,

Hopefully it's warm, salted and buttered.

I figured YOU knew that.  But on hearing that romex-on-the-bottom-of-joists is apparently REAL common in some parts of the country, I thought it might be appropriate to examine the Code implications.

 

Ed

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Posted by ATLANTIC CENTRAL on Friday, August 10, 2018 10:27 AM

7j43k

Sheldon,

Hopefully it's warm, salted and buttered.

I figured YOU knew that.  But on hearing that romex-on-the-bottom-of-joists is apparently REAL common in some parts of the country, I thought it might be appropriate to examine the Code implications.

 

Ed

 

Agreed

    

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Posted by Doughless on Friday, August 10, 2018 10:44 AM

7j43k

 

 
7j43k

 

 
Doughless

I was commenting more upon codes back in the day.

My basement is full of romex strung along the ceiling, rendering the space permanently nonliving space unless I install a drop ceiling or hire an electrician to punch it through the joists, which is a lot of work that should have been done when the house was built, IMO.  I hate old building codes.

 

 

 

 

I seriously doubt the NEC EVER allowed romex to be installed under joists in a basement.

I think you are the proud owner of non-permit wiring.  Or perhaps your inspector was incompetent or bought.

There is a terrific history of electrical wiring here:

https://www.scribd.com/doc/18355180/Electrical-Wiring-History

 

Also, I just bought a copy of the 1947 NEC.  When it shows, I'll see what it says. 

Ed 

 

 

 

 

 

My copy has arrived.  The requirements for romex on ceiling joists in unfinished basements are the same as currently.

Running 14 and 12 and 10 gauge romex underneath those joists is a violation, and has been at least since 1947.

There was not in 1947, and there is not currently, any exception for utility rooms and storage spaces or any other "special room" in basements.

 

Ed

 

Thanks for digging that out. That was my original understanding too, which was the basis of my original post on the subject.  That it is a code violation.  

What I heard locally was that if its considered non living space it didn't matter. (maybe that means the inspector gives it a pass). Which I then retorted that stringing it under the joists would pretty much render any basement room non living space, maybe even the whole basement. 

What I have seen, its usually limited to one room, strung along the joists until they reach places where it can be tucked up along the joists.

Many houses down here were built that way during the boom times, aparently.  I'm talking mid 1990s, (before the engineered joists, either the I-beam joists with the easy hole punch out or the truss looking joists).  Obviously strung that way for speed of construction with thick 2x joists.

 

- Douglas

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Posted by 7j43k on Friday, August 10, 2018 11:14 AM

Doughless
 

Thanks for digging that out. That was my original understanding too, which was the basis of my original post on the subject.  That it is a code violation.  

What I heard locally was that if its considered non living space it didn't matter. (maybe that means the inspector gives it a pass). Which I then retorted that stringing it under the joists would pretty much render any basement room non living space, maybe even the whole basement. 

Prior to 2008, this rule did not apply to crawl spaces, which certainly can be viewed as "non living space".  Perhaps that's where this curious "interpretation" came from.  But a basement is not a crawl space.

Perhaps, on the building plans, that area that most of us call a basement was called a "non living space subterranean enclosure".  Thus obviously not a basement.  Y'all throw up the cable, quick-like, y'hear?

What I have seen, its usually limited to one room, strung along the joists until they reach places where it can be tucked up along the joists.

Many houses down here were built that way during the boom times, aparently.  I'm talking mid 1990s, (before the engineered joists, either the I-beam joists with the easy hole punch out or the truss looking joists).  Obviously strung that way for speed of construction with thick 2x joists.

"...strung ALONG the joists..." is OK

"...tucked up ALONG the joists." is OK

crossing underneath ain't

 

Ed

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Posted by Doughless on Friday, August 10, 2018 7:38 PM

7j43k

 Y'all throw up the cable, quick-like, y'hear?

  

"...strung ALONG the joists..." is OK

"...tucked up ALONG the joists." is OK

crossing underneath ain't

 

Ed

 

Yes Ed, they are strung underneath in the several houses I've seen.

Just one more house story.

When we were looking for houses here, I noticed as I'd walk along the floors, there were dips in the floors throughtout most of the houses.  The realtor either claimed to not notice them or said that settling can be bad here in the Georgia clay.  I didn't believe it, no sign of drywall crack repairs or similar things.

We ended up buying the house with the most leve floors, but there was a really bad sag in one of the upper bedrooms.  Well, we finally replaced the carpet, and after going through various theories about what the sag could be, we decided to just rip up the subfloor to see what was going on. 

Yep, the joists were installed with the crown side down in that part of the room, about 7 of them.  When the house was built 25 years ago, the saw guy did his job, marked the crown with an arrow, but the framers installed the joists with the arrows pointed down, LOL. 

About 10 linear feet with a one and half inch sag at the valley.  We spent the $2,500 to have new joists sistered to them.  Funny thing is, the three previous owners of the house just lived with it I guess.  I couldn't.

Ok, back to trains for me.   

- Douglas

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Posted by 7j43k on Friday, August 10, 2018 8:11 PM

Douglas,

May I inquire where this hotbed of building innovation is located?  I must say, I am impressed at their abilities.  If not their competence.

My house is a pretty neat old house (1914).  But I did finally notice a problem with the flooring at the back of the house aligning with the back wall and cabinetry.  Turns out the bright lads built one side of the building longer than the other by 8".  So the back corners aren't 90 degrees.  On the plus side, that's the only screw up I've ever found.  I do love this house.  Only wishing it were 4000 sq ft larger, for what are probably obvious reasons.

 

Ed

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Posted by Doughless on Saturday, August 11, 2018 7:44 AM

7j43k

Douglas,

May I inquire where this hotbed of building innovation is located?  I must say, I am impressed at their abilities.  If not their competence.

My house is a pretty neat old house (1914).  But I did finally notice a problem with the flooring at the back of the house aligning with the back wall and cabinetry.  Turns out the bright lads built one side of the building longer than the other by 8".  So the back corners aren't 90 degrees.  On the plus side, that's the only screw up I've ever found.  I do love this house.  Only wishing it were 4000 sq ft larger, for what are probably obvious reasons.

 

Ed

 

I'd rather not say.  I don't want to compromise my home values. I'd just as soon practice the American way and pass the problems along to the next guy.Wink

I think it was also the early days of migrant labor, and not so highly skilled, so I'm told by people in the area.

I think its just a reflection of the boom times when anyone who can swing a hammer thinks they're a builder, and the city/county doesn't have enough inspectors to keep up or the fortitude to slow things down.  We had that problem back in the midwest too.

It also depends on the trade. Some things are done really well.  Real stucco, hardly a sign of a crack or repair in 25 years.  Water diversion details in the gables.  Trim work throughout the house with nice tight joints. But other parts of the house obviously had the B team assigned to the task.

My beef is that nobody ever thought to fix the problems, they just lived with them.

- Douglas

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Posted by SeeYou190 on Sunday, August 12, 2018 7:02 PM

Doughless
Yep, the joists were installed with the crown side down in that part of the room, about 7 of them. When the house was built 25 years ago, the saw guy did his job, marked the crown with an arrow, but the framers installed the joists with the arrows pointed down, LOL. About 10 linear feet with a one and half inch sag at the valley. We spent the $2,500 to have new joists sistered to them.

.

Wow, suddenly having a single floor house with no basement built on a concrete slab is seeming likle a great thing!

.

-Kevin

.

Wink Happily modeling my STRATTON & GILLETTE RAILROAD. A Class A line located in a personal fantasy world of semi-plausible nonsense on Tuesday, August 3rd, 1954.

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Posted by maxman on Sunday, August 12, 2018 7:37 PM

Doughless
Yep, the joists were installed with the crown side down in that part of the room, about 7 of them. When the house was built 25 years ago, the saw guy did his job, marked the crown with an arrow, but the framers installed the joists with the arrows pointed down, LOL.

Doesn't the arrow mean "this side down"?

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Posted by ATLANTIC CENTRAL on Sunday, August 12, 2018 7:43 PM

SeeYou190

 

 
Doughless
Yep, the joists were installed with the crown side down in that part of the room, about 7 of them. When the house was built 25 years ago, the saw guy did his job, marked the crown with an arrow, but the framers installed the joists with the arrows pointed down, LOL. About 10 linear feet with a one and half inch sag at the valley. We spent the $2,500 to have new joists sistered to them.

 

.

Wow, suddenly having a single floor house with no basement built on a concrete slab is seeming likle a great thing!

.

-Kevin

.

 

And living on a concrete slab is fine in Florida, but you would not want to live on one here.

In this climate they make a house cold and damp, no matter all the attempts at insulation and moisture barriers......

But what bothers me most about concrete slab houses, is plumbing repairs......

There is something about jack hammering up floors that I would rather avoid.....

Happy to live in houses where the mechanical systems can be accessed with minimal intrusion into the finished spaces.

As I said earlier, this is why I will not put drywall ceilings in the basement.

In my new house especially, (not that it is very new, built in 1964) I can repair/replace plumbing, wiring, heat, A/C with little or no damge/disruption to the finished spaces.

As for all this stuff going on where Doughless is, I can't speak to that, but we sure don't have those kinds of problems here as a general rule.

Now, would you like to know why most houses here have basements and VERY few are built on concrete slabs?

It's simple. Foundations need to go below the frost line to prevent winter ground freezing from moving the building and cracking the foundation. The 100 year freeze depth here is 30", so foundations must be 36" below grade.

Even a poured slab foundation must have a perimeter curtain wall that goes 36" below grade.

So, lets assume for a minute you are going to build wood frame house with wood framed floors. You need to dig a 36" deep, 24" wide trench all around the perimeter for the footers. Then the code says you need 24" in the craw space, so either you build the house 24" above grade, or you remove more soil material to get your 24" crawl space.

If you build the house 24" above the original grade, that means you will be building 5' high concrete poured, or CMU foundation walls, 36" below grade, 24" above grade.

And now the IRC (International Residential Code) says your crawl space must have a "rat slab", a concrete floor, even if it is not finished smooth.

So you have dug a big whole, bought enough concrete to pour a floor, and built walls 4-5 feet high.

At that point it does not cost much more to dig out the whole thing, build 8-9 foot walls, and get a concrete finisher for that floor.......and there you have it - a basement!

Every house should be built on one. They make the living space warmer in winter, drier year round, they are space for water heaters, HVAC systems, and other mechanical/electrial equipment freeing up space on the "living" floors.

Wood framed floors are nicer to walk on, they are warm and soft, not cold and hard like stone.

Basements are very low in "cost per square foot" to construct, and they make the house easier to "service" down the road. 

Sheldon

 

    

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Posted by ATLANTIC CENTRAL on Sunday, August 12, 2018 8:48 PM

maxman

 

 
Doughless
Yep, the joists were installed with the crown side down in that part of the room, about 7 of them. When the house was built 25 years ago, the saw guy did his job, marked the crown with an arrow, but the framers installed the joists with the arrows pointed down, LOL.

 

Doesn't the arrow mean "this side down"?

 

I hope this is sarcasm......

    

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Posted by richhotrain on Sunday, August 12, 2018 9:14 PM

ATLANTIC CENTRAL

Now, would you like to know why most houses here have basements and VERY few are built on concrete slabs?

It's simple. Foundations need to go below the frost line to prevent winter ground freezing from moving the building and cracking the foundation. The 100 year freeze depth here is 30", so foundations must be 36" below grade.

Even a poured slab foundation must have a perimeter curtain wall that goes 36" below grade.

Up here in Chicago, the frost line is 42 inches. Years ago, I had a room addition built onto the back of the house. The contractor built it on a "trench footing". Two problems. The foundation for the addition was not built on virgin soil and the footing did not go down 42 inches. In fact, the trench was only about 32 inches deep. The room addition began to pull away from the house to the extent that we had to tear it down. To make matters worse, the exterior of the room addition was brick. A structural engineer told me that a brick weighs 42 times more than an similarly sized piece of aluminum siding. That added weight put even more stress on the trench footing. We have long since the sold the home after restoring it to its original footprint.

Rich

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Posted by richhotrain on Sunday, August 12, 2018 9:18 PM

ATLANTIC CENTRAL

Every house should be built on one. They make the living space warmer in winter, drier year round, they are space for water heaters, HVAC systems, and other mechanical/electrial equipment freeing up space on the "living" floors.

Wood framed floors are nicer to walk on, they are warm and soft, not cold and hard like stone.

Basements are very low in "cost per square foot" to construct, and they make the house easier to "service" down the road. 

Not all houses can be safely built on foundations. The high water level and the proximity to sea level make basements a rarity in Florida.

Rich

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Posted by ATLANTIC CENTRAL on Sunday, August 12, 2018 9:44 PM

richhotrain

 

 
ATLANTIC CENTRAL

Every house should be built on one. They make the living space warmer in winter, drier year round, they are space for water heaters, HVAC systems, and other mechanical/electrial equipment freeing up space on the "living" floors.

Wood framed floors are nicer to walk on, they are warm and soft, not cold and hard like stone.

Basements are very low in "cost per square foot" to construct, and they make the house easier to "service" down the road. 

 

 

Not all houses can be safely built on foundations. The high water level and the proximity to sea level make basements a rarity in Florida.

 

Rich

 

Very true, and they don't have frost issues with frozen ground.

But back in the day (late 19th Century), in places like Florida, many houses were built "up out of the ground" on shallow basements for all the benifits they provide, rather than on concrete slabs floating on the sand........

And I will confess a strong bias against living in that climate/environment to begin with......

Sheldon

    

  • Member since
    January 2009
  • From: Maryland
  • 8,429 posts
Posted by ATLANTIC CENTRAL on Sunday, August 12, 2018 9:53 PM

richhotrain

 

 
ATLANTIC CENTRAL

Now, would you like to know why most houses here have basements and VERY few are built on concrete slabs?

It's simple. Foundations need to go below the frost line to prevent winter ground freezing from moving the building and cracking the foundation. The 100 year freeze depth here is 30", so foundations must be 36" below grade.

Even a poured slab foundation must have a perimeter curtain wall that goes 36" below grade.

 

 

Up here in Chicago, the frost line is 42 inches. Years ago, I had a room addition built onto the back of the house. The contractor built it on a "trench footing". Two problems. The foundation for the addition was not built on virgin soil and the footing did not go down 42 inches. In fact, the trench was only about 32 inches deep. The room addition began to pull away from the house to the extent that we had to tear it down. To make matters worse, the exterior of the room addition was brick. A structural engineer told me that a brick weighs 42 times more than an similarly sized piece of aluminum siding. That added weight put even more stress on the trench footing. We have long since the sold the home after restoring it to its original footprint.

 

Rich

 

Both big mistakes on the part of that contractor. Where was the inspector?

Everybody knows footers need to be on virgin soil and/or tested for compaction for the soil type. Yes, masonry is heavy, very heavy.....

Sheldon

 

    

  • Member since
    September 2004
  • From: Dearborn Station
  • 18,287 posts
Posted by richhotrain on Monday, August 13, 2018 4:55 AM

ATLANTIC CENTRAL
 
richhotrain

 

 
ATLANTIC CENTRAL

Now, would you like to know why most houses here have basements and VERY few are built on concrete slabs?

It's simple. Foundations need to go below the frost line to prevent winter ground freezing from moving the building and cracking the foundation. The 100 year freeze depth here is 30", so foundations must be 36" below grade.

Even a poured slab foundation must have a perimeter curtain wall that goes 36" below grade. 

Up here in Chicago, the frost line is 42 inches. Years ago, I had a room addition built onto the back of the house. The contractor built it on a "trench footing". Two problems. The foundation for the addition was not built on virgin soil and the footing did not go down 42 inches. In fact, the trench was only about 32 inches deep. The room addition began to pull away from the house to the extent that we had to tear it down. To make matters worse, the exterior of the room addition was brick. A structural engineer told me that a brick weighs 42 times more than an similarly sized piece of aluminum siding. That added weight put even more stress on the trench footing. We have long since the sold the home after restoring it to its original footprint. 

Rich 

Both big mistakes on the part of that contractor. Where was the inspector?

Everybody knows footers need to be on virgin soil and/or tested for compaction for the soil type. Yes, masonry is heavy, very heavy.....

Sheldon 

I knew a lot less about construction back in the 1980s when the room addition was built than I do now. When the contract called for a "trench footing", I assumed that meant a total excavation of 9 feet, just like the basement, a poured footing, and then a foundation wall built on top of it. The day that construction began with a shallow trench, I almost called off the entire project. Had the contractor excavated 9 feet and poured footings, that room addition would still be standing today.

Rich

Alton Junction

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