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Building A Barden Home

My step by step experience with Barden Homes

Final House Plans

clock June 18, 2009 06:36 by author Donny Kemick

I just realized that I haven’t posted any of the floor plans for quite a while.  Here’s what we went “final” with on the Whitaker Corners Barden Home:  (click each for a larger version)

Left-Side-Of-House right-side-of-house
Left – Right Sides
                       Cross Section
1st Floor
2nd Floor

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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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Committing to One Floor Plan and Customizing It

clock September 28, 2008 05:10 by author Donny Kemick

floor-plan After narrowing your list down to 1 floor plan that you’d like to work with, you must make a one-time payment of $1000.00 to send the selected floor plan into Barden’s Engineers.  They will research your area’s building codes and laws, as well as work on any modifications to your floor plan.  That $1000.00 investment buys you as many iterations of changes to your plans as you want, and essentially gets you final, stamped plans.  If you have ever worked with an engineer on a floor plan, you know that stamped, final plans can run you up to 10 times what it costs through Barden Homes.

Turn Around Time

One of the hurdles we’ve experienced is the time it takes to get revisions to our plans back.  The Barden Engineers say it takes 7-9 business days to complete changes.  This includes even the smallest of changes, so try to submit changes in batches to avoid major delays.  That timeframe is very accurate.  It almost always takes a week+ to get our changes back. 

I understand that it takes time to make changes to the plans, but 7-9 days seems like forever!  Because I am an IT Consultant and Programmer, I am familiar with Autocad and other engineering suites.  It doesn’t take that long for changes to be made.  Ok, enough ranting on turn around time.


My wife and I have never built a home before and know very little about building codes, etc…  The engineers are able to help us in that regard by telling us if changes that we’ve requested are not up to code, or if they compromise the structure of the home.

Because they work on home designs every day, they have also recommended small changes here and there that will provide added convenience for us, or make a room more functional.

Modify, Modify, Modify Until You’re Happy

If you’re like my wife and I, you’re probably building your last home.  That’s all the more reason to take your time and modify the plans until you are 100% happy with them.  Make no compromises!  Heck, you paid your $1,000.00, take advantage of it!  The Barden Homes Engineers will work on your changes until you are happy, so hold them to it.

Time Spent Now Will Save Money Later

By making all of the changes before building starts, you assure yourself that you KNOW what the house is going to cost you.  That’s the biggest reason to iron out the details of the home before you go final with your plans.  If you ask anyone that has built a home, what costs the most money, they will likely tell you, straying from the plan, or making changes on the fly to how the house should be.  It wastes materials, and adds a lot to labor.

Do yourself a favor, plan as much as possible up front, and ensure that your final plans are truly final!

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