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Building A Barden Home

My step by step experience with Barden Homes

Barden Home Basement Floor Poured

clock July 13, 2009 16:12 by author Donny Kemick

The concrete guys poured the basement today and put my curiosity to rest, when I saw them pour the concrete through the basement access door on the 1st floor deck.  I was mistaken about the garage being poured.  They told me that they will come back later and do that.  Their reasoning was that contractors use the garage throughout construction so it gets beat on. 

Rocky Concrete

As I mention in the video below, the concrete crew (who’s from out of town) used a local supplier for concrete on the basement floor.  In speaking with them, they said that the concrete mix was much rockier than they were used to.  This made me wonder what issues can arise from rockier concrete.  So, I did a little Googling and found that rockier cement has a higher compressive strength than sandier cement.

Here’re a video of the process and results:

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Whitaker Corners First Floor Deck Complete

clock July 11, 2009 05:19 by author Donny Kemick

After only 2 and a half days, the first floor deck is completely in place, subfloor and all.  If it wasn’t for the concrete delay, we would have had our first floor walls and 2nd floor deck delivered yesterday.  Looks like it will now come on Tuesday (4 days from now, including the weekend), and one of the guys on site said if all goes well, they will have that in place by the end of the day next Thursday.  That’s 3 days to setup the 1st floor walls, and 2nd floor deck.  Incredible!  Truly shows the value of Barden Homes.

As always, I put together some video and photos yesterday and today to show the progress on the 1st floor deck, and also some shots of how our driveway is shaping up.  Take a look below:

 DSC00123 DSC00124 DSC00125 DSC00126 DSC00127 DSC00128  DSC00130  DSC00132 DSC00133 DSC00134 DSC00135 DSC00136 DSC00137 DSC00138 DSC00139

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Understanding the Barden Home 1st Floor Deck Components

clock July 9, 2009 06:22 by author Donny Kemick

When I took a walk around the site yesterday, I looked at some of the materials and wondered if they were the best for the longevity of our new Barden Home.  As I’ve said again and again, I am in no way a contractor.  I know very little about construction.  At the same time, I’m a technologists and web marketer, so by nature I’m curious.  I enjoy learning about the technology that will be going into the house.  I think that is apparent by my Superior Walls post, my Sewage Grinder Pump post, etc…

Who Cares About Girders, What Color’s The Siding?

As you can see from the video I posted yesterday, the delivery included the Sill Seal Foam Gasket, Sill Plate, Girder, Floor Joists, Subfloor, and wall sections for the walk-out portion of the basement.  If you asked me yesterday morning what the Girder was, I would have said a piece if clothing women (now men too) wear to suck in that Thanksgiving Dinner fat.  Obviously that’s not the case.  In fact, I wouldn’t have even known the names of these components had I not re-reviewed the Package Materials sheet from Barden, and our selections or modifications. 

You see, when we were picking a Barden Homes material package, I paid much less attention to the construction-sounding components than I did the interior and exterior finishing components.  I made sure to let my GC know that I was relying on him to help me pick the best materials for the construction aspects.  Our focus during material selection is clear if you examine my early posts:

- First Material Selection Meeting 
- Selecting Our Barden Home Door

So, What Goes Into The 1st Floor Deck?

As I mentioned above, the following components were delivered in the 1st floor deck:

  • Sill Seal Foam Gasket
  • Sill Plate
  • Girder
  • Floor Joists
  • Subfloor
  • Wall sections for walk-out basement (not discussed below)

Given a list, I could have accurately guessed what all of those were, except the Girder.  Here’s a description of each and which options we selected versus the available options.

Sill Seal Foam Gasket

image Because the Sill Plate gets bolted down right on top of the concrete foundation (which is not always 100% even across the top), a piece of this foam (sometimes spray foam, or caulk) is placed on the concrete first.  It is meant to reduce air infiltration between concrete foundations and sill plates.  It is sometimes used around windows and doors as well.

Sill Plate

image The sill plate is pretty strait forward.  It sits on top of the foundation walls and is made of 2 X 6 Pressure Treated lumber.  It gets bolted down on the top of foundation walls with bolts that were set in the poured concrete.  Again, the Sill Seal Gasket goes between the Sill Plate and the Foundation.  The Sill Plate is what the I-Joists get nailed into.  In looking at the Barden Homes sill plate options, I only see 2X6 PT as an option from the Standard plan through the Titanium plan.


Again, this is the one that I have seen 100s of times in basements, but would have never guessed was called a Girder.  The Girder runs down the middle (at least in our case) of the floor and supports the load above.  You can clearly see how the house would probably cave in over time if there wasn’t a large structural beam running across the middle of the floor.  The girder is supported by lolly columns that sit on concrete slabs (shown in the picture). 


The Girder options from Barden Homes were LVL or Steel.  The steel option was only available in the Titanium package.  Thinking back to the homes I’ve lived in, almost all of the Girders were wood.  We went with the LVL option. 

What Does LVL Stand For?

LVL stands for Laminated Veneer Lumber.  It is a manufactured product, made of veneers that are rotary peeled, dried and laminated together with adhesives, under heat and pressure.  The result is VERY strong and great for Girders because of the ability to create long continuous lengths. 

Floor Joists

LPI_Joists 20-32I have to be honest, this was the main reason I wanted to look into the materials for the deck.  One look at the wood I-Joists and I thought to myself, “Really?  That’s what our floor joists are made of?  They don’t look very solid…”.  I have always had the impression that OSB (particle board) is very fragile/flimsy.  Truthfully, I have no idea where I developed that opinion.  BUT, when I saw the floor joists, my concern was raised.  They also looked so much different than the floor joists I’ve seen in the past.  I was used to seeing 2X12s, not what appeared to be manufactured OSB contraptions.

An I-Joist has structural wood top and bottom flanges with OSB (particle board) or Plywood webs.  The web is just the vertical span on the inside of the I-Joist that connects the two flanges.


Turns out those contraptions are superior to the 2X12s I’ve seen so many times before.  In fact, even examining the Barden Homes material packages will reveal that the wood I-Joists are more expensive (I know, this doesn’t always mean better) than the 2X12s. 

I did some reading last night about I-Joists versus 2X12s and found that they are actually stiffer than the traditional 2 X 12s, and are often much straighter because they are manufactured.


image Barden offers 3 options for the subfloor:

  • 3/4” OSB
  • 3/4” Plywood
  • 3/4” HiPerf OSB

We went with the 3/4” OSB.  I believe this was a decision that was made to ensure that we fit into a Green Package discount.  I’m not positive about that, but I think that’s why.  I researched OSB versus plywood a bit last night and culminated the following:

  • OSB and Plywood are considered equals structurally
  • Many builders say OSB falls apart
  • Many builders say plywood comes delaminated
  • It takes longer for water and humidity to impact OSB
  • It takes longer for water and humidity to LEAVE OSB
  • OSB feels stiffer to walk across because the variation in stiffness is much less than plywood
  • In shear, OSB is 2 times stronger than plywood (one of the reasons it’s used in the web of I-Joists
  • OSB tends to be more consistently flatter than plywood
    A little reading went a long way to comforting my concerns about OSB.  Most contractor forums praised OSB over plywood.

Wall Sections for Walk-Out Basement

I wasn’t able to examine them very well, so I will hold my judgment and review for a later date.  It does appear that they came studded and sheathed with OSB.  If the rest of the walls come sheathed as well, it would seem that the house should go together very quickly.

Let Me Know What I Missed or Goofed Up

As always, I welcome your feedback in the comments below. 

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