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Country Discussion Topics
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Modular Homes and Wood Basements?
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Justin - Pa    Posted 06-17-2002 at 07:21:15       [Reply]  [No Email]
All this talk about modular homes...I grew up in a 70's modular home. Quality was not bad but not great either. Wife and I are putting up a house in the next year. We looked at two story modulars and it seems by the time I put in a basement and garage the price is the same as stick-built...and you still have to worry about getting the four sections to fit together correctly and not give you problems.

I do have a question on wood basements. A local builder here in NW PA builds them, and I am wondering what peoples experiece is with them? I had never even heard of it until a few weeks ago.


james campbell    Posted 04-28-2004 at 13:00:05       [Reply]  [Send Email]
I'm looking at buying a house (around 30 years old) built w/ a walkout wood basement to the north and west. The south wall (w/ dirt against it) has been replaced w/ a cemment block wall. The east wall (w/ partial dirt against it) has a slight bow and shows slight signs of moisture. Is this common? or a bad sign ahead for future problems? How long will this wall last? If problems w/ wall what would repair costs be? I'm very leary of buying this house because of a wood basement especially w/ the east wall as it is! I would appreciate any advice anyone has to offer.


Justin - Pa    Posted 06-18-2002 at 06:25:18       [Reply]  [No Email]
I have to admit I agree in part with everyone here. If built right, (the guy I talked to mentioned 6X6 posts in the walls), wood basements would certainly be strong enough. And finishing off a wood basement would be so easy! But even the best treated lumber will surely start to rot after 30 or 40 years. I also have heard about the new codes in Pa...not sure if they will affect this contractor and his wood basements or not. I think I will probably stick to cement block or poured concrete...I'm just not brave enough to pour that much money into a house and be unsure about the foundation. Thanks for all the replys.


Hal/WA    Posted 06-17-2002 at 20:40:05       [Reply]  [No Email]
About 15 years ago a new neighbor put up a modular home with a wood foundation. We got to be friends and talked about the modular home and foundation. Their modular home was very fancy and I think made from 4 sections. The foundation was made with a lot of treated dimension lumber and plywood on a gravel base. They had done this because the time of year that they had chosen to put the home in place was the early Spring, and the first concrete truck they brought in got stuck real bad and had to dump its load and be pulled out with a huge wrecker. Big bucks... Because they were under pressure to get the house in place and livable (from various sources) they decided to use the code approved all wood foundation. It was kind of a stopgap measure and my neighbor claimed that it actually cost somewhat less than the full concrete foundation or possibly basement they were going to have. He said the foundation was gauranteed for 20 years.

My neighbors never had any trouble with the foundation, but did end up getting divorced and both moving away. The place sold, but was on the market for over a year. I have no information as to whether the wood foundation detracted from the salability of the house or not, or if it cost them money when they went to sell. I have not met the people who bought it.

When I was going to build my home, I wanted a full cast in place concrete basement with lots of rebar. Almost all the concrete basements I have ever known about lasted much more than 20 years, although, in my experience most crack somewhere. I built my basement at the proper time of the year and did not have much trouble. Do a concrete foundation reasonably correctly and it will last much longer than I will.

Maybe I am wrong, but it would be hard to convince me to buy a home with a wood foundation, unless I got an incredible buy on it. It may pass code, but not my own biases. I would always wonder when I would be needing to do the foundation over because it degraded over time from contact with the dampness in the soil.


screaminghollow    Posted 06-18-2002 at 04:16:12       [Reply]  [Send Email]
My grandmother's house was built in the thirty's with cinder block, 70 yrs old and still not leaking and not cracked. Don't know if you will be able to say that about wood foundations. I guess only time will tell. Unfortunately many new homes are only built with a life expectancy of fifty years. Why build something that needs to be replaced by your children?


Pitch    Posted 06-17-2002 at 19:20:46       [Reply]  [No Email]
In the mid 70's I worked at a plant that built components ie:trusses, floor joists and wooden basements. We were very meticulus on the basements every seam was caulked nothing but stainless steel nails. From what I understood at the time the real art to them was the installation If done properly they were great but the istallers had to take special care to caulk all the meeting faces thouroghly and to use nothing but stainless fasteners.
I see some of these houses that we built the basements for and they are still standing. If I remember rigth they were warrentied for thirty years.


screaminghollow    Posted 06-17-2002 at 18:36:54       [Reply]  [Send Email]
wood basements below grade? Pa recently adopted the BOCA code statewide. The BOCA code ten years ago, required all wood to be at least 12 or 18 inches above the exterior grade. ie no soil contact with wood. Don't know if it(a wood basement) would pass now or not. Check wisely with someone who knows the code throroughly. From what I've seen here in central PA, not many builders or inspectors know the code. Lack of fireblocking, lack of GFI's no vent fans in bathrooms, gas fire places vented to the back porch, etc. By the way, I know a guy here in PA who bought a modular. The first floor bath had no window or light. How you supposed to see where your aiming?


Sned    Posted 06-17-2002 at 16:38:25       [Reply]  [No Email]
Modular homes are really catching on, we bought ours in 1995. There is a lot of folks who think a double wide and a modular are the same *there not* The banks like modulars because 1. They are up and done fast and 2. they are built in a controlled enviroment meaning the lumber's not exposed to the elements during construction. they are built just as good as a stick built on sight, no question about it. I know a few folks who have had mods built since ours and they love em.

I try and keep up with building practices and love working in the field but I gotta say this is the first I have ever heard of a "wood basement" a few things come to mind real fast, it better be sealed good because if the wood gets moist (even though it's treated) there will problems. Stability is another thing, a house probably weighs in around 15 to 20 ton depending on it's size and contents. I would be leary of that kinda weight over my head knowing it's held up by lumber. Surely there's steel and a footer in there somewhere.


DeadCarp - good question    Posted 06-17-2002 at 12:54:59       [Reply]  [No Email]
My nephew's putting in a wood basement and smearing some $60/can gook on the outside. Even if that works perfect, i'm still wondering about the stud walls holding back all that soil. Like to hear more on this process....


Grove r    Posted 06-17-2002 at 14:03:57       [Reply]  [No Email]
Hi, DC, don't know the math, but I think if you compare with a cement block basement......will find the strength factor on the wood is way higher, 2X6 studs on 16" centers are pretty skookum! The ground here is sandy clay, and it leans pretty hard, as in all basements, the weight of the house plus the floor joists holding everything from pushing in, gives one a lot of hold back power! Quite a bit different with cement, dealing with any amount of rebar with this, not saying that blocks can't be reinforced too, but.....Not trying to sell wood basements, just trying to look at the positive side, from what I have had experience with. Have a gooder. R.E.L.


Rubintropfen    Posted 06-17-2002 at 08:56:26       [Reply]  [No Email]
I know somebody looking at houses who found a great house with a wood basement. It has been up for quite a while now and still has not sold. Not enough of them around here for anybody to feel "safe" buying it.


Grove r    Posted 06-17-2002 at 11:00:13       [Reply]  [No Email]
No problems here, yet! going on twenty five years, now. There is not one drop of cold cracking cement to wory about! Walls are 6", insulated, with sheetrock on the inside, floor is 2X4 sleepers three feet apart,[on gravel], with 2X6 floor joists, covered by 5/8" treated plywood, and 7/16 partical board overlay.....even have underfloor heating, which I never use! The joy of finnishing the basement...was no strapping on the walls, as in blocks or cement, just go ahead and insulate and finnish! People, here too, are hesitant to use wood, but are slowly comming around. Give another twenty five years, and I feel sure, that a lot more people will be convinced of their potential. Have a gooder, R.E.L.


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