The Basement Foundation

I’ll admit that a basement foundation was not my first choice.  In fact, I got talked into it kicking and screaming.  Why?  Because it took away from my small house concept.  My little house, originally planned as a shade over 900 sq feet, ballooned out to 1600 sq ft because of the additional square footage.  Not technically a “small house” anymore and I can’t help but feel sad about that.  However, given that a) my lot is sloped  b) I wanted covered parking and c) this is a cold climate area, the basement foundation was the most cost-effective option.  It allows for an integral garage, which is tough to live without in the Pittsburgh winter.  (or once you’ve had one, it’s hard to go back is probably a more accurate statement 🙂   I did find one way to work with the basement and remain true to my small house vision, but more on that later.  Let’s talk a little about the basement foundation that’s being used for this house:  the superior walls Xi foundation system.

Below is a cross-sectional view of its components.


This foundation system is a solid representative of green construction and building practice.  Here are some of its mother earth loving features:

Environmentally friendly:

– it is produced in a factory with precast concrete walls …”eliminating any on-site soil contamination from such as the form oil used for poured walls. And because dampproofing is built into our walls (ESRs 1553 & 1662), no on-site sprays or bituminous coatings are required to make the walls dampproof.”

– it arrives to the jobsite ready to install, producing almost zero on-site waste

Energy efficient:

– there is a continuous layer of insulation bonded directly to the concrete walls, which improves the energy efficiency.  2.5″ of insulation creates a wall with an R-value of R-12.5, prior to drywall installation.  It leaves enough room for insulation up to R-50+ if desired.  (Just as a reference point, a basement wall built to current code has an R-value of  R-10)

It is also an NAHB Green Approved Product

NAHB Certificate

If you’re thinking of building a house with  energy star or LEED  certification, this is definitely a product worth looking into.

Back to my project:  my basement will be finished, with an R-10 under the slab and R-20 in the walls.  This meets the PGH (Pretty Good House) standards!!  One tic next to that item on my PGH checklist 🙂


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