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Building A Barden Home

My step by step experience with Barden Homes

Foundation Wall Options; I Like Precast Walls

clock February 15, 2009 08:05 by author Donny Kemick

Our general contractor was walking through the budget items for our Barden Home, and mentioned some options for our basement walls.  We had always planned to do a poured concrete basement, but I wanted to find out if that was the best option. He explained some benefits/drawbacks to each:


block-foundation Good Old Block Foundation

While you don’t see it much anymore, the block foundation has it’s advantages.  The biggest advantage is that it’s a bit warmer than a poured concrete wall.  My GC explained that it’s generally warmer because of the pockets inside of cinder blocks.  They can be insulated to make a warmer wall.  Another advantage is that it’s cheaper.  One big disadvantage is that over time, there are many more vulnerable areas for cracking.


poured-foundation Poured Concrete Wall Foundation

One of the biggest benefits of poured concrete foundations is the strength you get over a block foundation.  They are much more solid and durable.  They dramatically reduce basement water with the reduced number of joints in the walls.  Poured walls are said to be much more fire resistant than block foundations as well because of the hollow core of block foundations.  Poured walls are virtually maintenance free as well.


precast-foundation Precast Wall Foundation

The newest technique/product for constructing a basement is precast walls.  Precast foundation walls are supposed to simplify basement construction, produce warmer and drier basements, and save time and money.  Made of individual concrete panels manufactured in a controlled environment, it is much easier to produce a consistent product, that has cured at ideal temperatures.  Precast foundation walls also use a very strong, dense concrete to ensure they produce a solid solution. The concrete panels are attached to either solid concrete or steel studs for support and a solid concrete footing.  Some precast products also include a layer of insulation for added warmth. 

If you are planning a walkout basement, or custom windows and doors, precast foundations can be tailored to your needs.  Often, precast walls have predrilled holes for small plumbing and electrical.  They are a great choice if you are planning on finishing your basement at some point, because the studs can be fit with wood or steel nailers for easy drywall installation.

My Take On Precast Walls

I’m no expert, but they seem like a great solution if they are budget-friendly.  Because they are manufactured in a controlled environment instead of onsite, they would seem to be better-cured.  The wall panels are said to harden to 5000 psi, twice as strong as the 2500 psi of most poured wall foundations.  They would also eliminate the need for weather delays. 

Many of the sites I’ve researched on say typical construction time is 4-5 hours for precast walls, versus 20-30 hours for poured concrete.  The quicker installation should reduce labor costs and offset the increased cost for the product. 

Precast foundations do not require a footer, which caught me off guard at first, but I like the idea now.  Instead, they use a very heavily compacted gravel that is 4-12” deep.  It should save some concrete cost.

I really like this option, but I will have to see what the cost difference is to make a final decision.  It will either be poured concrete or precast.  Our budget will make the decision for us! :)


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Barden Home Budget Breakdown

clock February 7, 2009 17:36 by author Donny Kemick

In meeting with our General Contractor, we’ve gotten a breakdown of the areas to budget for in the project, along with his thoughts on numbers for each category.  Here’re the categories:

  • Barden Homes Material Package

    • Sales Tax for materials
    • Crane Fee
  • Foundation Package

    • Poured/Block/Precast Basement walls
    • Poured/Block/Precast Garage walls
    • Lolly Columns (the columns in your basement that support the main beam)
    • Foundation coating (Platon in our case)
    • House floor
    • Garage floor
    • porch floor
    • Stone
    • Basement windows
    • Drain tile
    • Excavation
  • House Erection Labor

    • Erect home
    • Install shingles
    • Install windows
    • Install siding
    • Insulation
    • Trim labor
      • molding
      • install doors
      • door knobs
      • closet rods
      • hardware
      • kitchen and railing installation
    • Drywall
    • Allowance for Flooring
    • Per bath plumbing
    • 200 Amp electric service
    • Forced warm and central air
  • Options

    • Exterior stone
    • Fireplace
    • Chimney stone
    • Granite countertops
    • Master bath tub
  • Miscellaneous

    • Permits
    • Utility hookups
    • Painting (we’re doing this ourselves)
    • Light fixtures
    • Appliances
    • Gutters
    • Bathroom mirrors




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Frustration! Barden Home Floor Plan Changes

clock February 7, 2009 00:59 by author Donny Kemick

As we quickly approach the timeframe where we wanted to be started with construction, my wife and I are very frustrated with the amount of time it takes Barden to make changes to the floor plans, to send back to us for approval.  I will be the first to admit that we switched things up pretty late in the game, but it was a necessary change, for budget reasons.  Because we’re new to home construction, we never really questioned our salesperson’s acknowledgement that we were within budget on the Sullivan’s Run house we spent so much time designing.  The truth of the matter was, it was way over budget.  Our General Contractor was very helpful in bringing us into reality!

So, as we make final changes to our new home design, we’re waiting about 10 days each time, for Barden to make the changes and send them back.  Because I own a Web Marketing & Development firm with an IT Services team as well, I’m familiar with Auto CAD and how easy it is to make many of the changes that we’re after in the design.  This makes it even more frustrating, because the majority of the changes we’re after could be done in less than 30 minutes. 

I hope that Barden is really that busy and having a great year, but the economy and housing market would push me to think otherwise.  If they’re not, what is taking so long?  You’d think they would want to get the changes out the door ASAP in hopes of getting the contract signed.

Oh well.  I vented, and feel better already :).



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