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Building A Barden Home

My step by step experience with Barden Homes

Superior Walls Update – I was Contacted by Superior Walls Corporate

clock July 8, 2009 08:47 by author Donny Kemick

I received an email this morning from a gentleman that works for Superior Walls Corporate, concerning some of my opinions and information I’ve shared so far in our decision making processes.  I was very appreciative of the contact, and happy to see that Superior Walls is monitoring the web for competition and complaints.  While I’ve had no complaints, (and will not, as unfortunately, time wouldn’t allow us to use the product), I have expressed opinions.  Right or wrong, they are my opinion.  So, I gave the gentleman a call and talked through some of his concerns.

Throughout the posts I’ve made no claim of being a contractor.  In fact, I’m very happy we have an experienced, personable contractor.  Without him, I can guarantee we would be spending much more for various services than we should be, as well as going about some of the process the wrong way.  With this point in mind, my opinions come from a non-contractor perspective.  Luckily I am able to ask contractors what their opinions are as well, to help finalize my own.  Bottom line, this site holds MY opinions and no one else’s.

Focus – Back to My Phone Call

I wasn’t really sure what to expect from the discussion, though I do know that I had praised their product quite extensively in previous posts.  In fact, if it wasn’t for the 4 week manufacturing process, we would be using them.  I think it’s important to note that the gentleman I spoke with was very cordial and represented his company very well (Superior Walls decision makers, give him a raise, he adds a lot of value and was very good to speak with).  It was clear how passionate about the product he was, and how important it was that I share accurate information.  I agree 100%.  I have a business of my own and certainly wouldn’t want someone sharing false information about us online.

Some of the His Concerns

1. The Warranty

I was incorrect in this post when I said the warranty is 10 years (note, I’ve now corrected this).  It is actually 15.  That is Superior Walls’ minimum warranty period that they will allow licensed dealers to offer.  You may find a dealer that gives a longer warranty, but by the nature of warranties, I doubt it.  My apologies for stating that the warranty was 10 years.  Again, it is 15. 

The opinions I expressed still hold true for ME, in that I am personally have a concern about what happens after 15 years if there is a leak. 

2. The Longevity of the Caulk Used

In the same post that I provided above, I mentioned my concern for the longevity of the caulk used between the panels.  After all, that seems to be what holds them together (aside from a bolt at the top).  In our discussion, he gave some details about the caulk such as:

  • It was engineered specifically for this system/process
  • It does not degrade in effectiveness with exposure to soil and moisture
  • It is supposed to last the life of the home

I can appreciate all of those statements.  I did ask if I could have the list of asterisks  provided by the caulk manufacturer on when the caulk wouldn’t do as they say, but he didn’t have them off hand, which I could understand.  Some of the asterisks I could envision (PURE SPECULATION) would be:

  • If the walls do not shift at all
  • In average moisture environments
  • With certain back filling

And these were items I mentioned in our discussion.  He did say that the caulk is meant to flex with the wall.  This to me came across as an admission that you should expect the wall to move.  Not sure, but that’s how I took it. 

3. Walls Falling In

I mentioned in my post about my visit to Superior Walls that the salesperson clearly stated that the wall sections have fallen in on the basement floor before.  The gentleman I spoke to debated the point, stating that the walls typically only shift in or out a bit, IF any issues occur at all. 

I told him that a licensed dealer specifically told me that he’d seen around 30 incidents of the wall falling in on the basement floor in his 11 years with Superior Walls. 

His biggest concern was how catastrophic it sounds to read that wall sections can fall in on the basement.  I agree that it does sound catastrophic.  That’s because it would be!

Imagine that you have just completed finishing your basement.  You went with Superior Walls to avoid having to stud and insulate the walls.  Your last coat of paint is done, your furniture is moved in, and your watching a movie with your kids, when all of the sudden a foundation wall falls in and crushes you.  Sounds catastrophic to me… You?

While this may be a rarity, walls HAVE indeed fallen in.  I would be irresponsible to not take that into consideration.

Bottom Line

I appreciated the contact and conversation.  He was doing his due diligence and I was explaining my non-contractor opinion.  The bottom line is, Superior Walls has to be able to sell their product to not only contractors, but the homeowner.  With the web as powerful as it is.  I think it would benefit Superior Walls to be a little more proactive online in ranking better for terms like “precast wall falling in”, or “precast wall leaks”.  Then, they would be the 1st search result and have the opportunity to address the concerns before informational blogs like this.

As I stated in my post about “New Considerations for Precast Walls versus Poured Concrete”, I still think precast walls are a very cool product, and if you ask me in 6 months, my preference may swing back to precast walls.  In fact, the 1st floor deck load would probably be getting installed 0n precast walls if the manufacturing time wasn’t 4 weeks. 

I’d love to hear your opinions or experiences to help validate or alleviate my concerns.  Leave a comment with your thoughts.

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New Considerations for Precast Walls versus Poured Concrete

clock June 29, 2009 03:07 by author Donny Kemick

I had originally decided to go with precast foundation walls from Superior Walls, after I had visited their sales office and seen them first hand.  If it wasn’t for our time delay I’d probably be still be using precast walls.  After some thinking and seeing the poured walls, I’m kind of happy I went with them over the precast walls.

Warranty

The precast walls have a 15 year warranty on leaks, etc…  I plan on being in my house much longer than that.  In fact, we’re hoping this is our last house.  If water starts coming in after 15 years, it will be problematic…  Superior Walls recommended no drainage around the inside of the basement.  Based on where my house sits, that’s quite risky. 

The warranty period of 15 years seems just long enough to cover the caulk that goes between the precast panels.  I can’t imagine the costs associated with digging out around the foundation after 15 years to recaulk a potential leak.  That would be terrible, especially if you consider decks, landscaping, and your yard.

Timeframe Isn’t Any Faster

While the setup time is faster than poured walls, precast walls have to be ordered, and for us, would take 4 weeks to make.  Keep in mind that we couldn’t order until we had the money from the bank.  That would have meant that our project would have been held up for another month after closing with the bank. 

Our concrete guy was onsite and getting the footer poured the day after the hole was dug.  There’s no way we could have had the precast walls here by then.

Cost Savings Isn’t Much

When you consider the cost of 2X4s and insulation, the cost difference between precast and poured walls is a wash.  You end up with a bit more piece of mind with poured walls, so to me, that makes the poured walls the winner.  Ask me in another 6 months and I may have changed my mind again, but right now, I’m happy I went poured. :)

 

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Yeah, I’m a Flip-Flopper – Going with Poured Walls

clock May 4, 2009 09:16 by author Donny Kemick

pink-flip-flop In some previous posts I discussed some foundation wall options, and recently made the decision to go with Precast walls by Superior Walls.  Well, I’m having to go against what I originally wanted to do because of timeframe.  We are now 2 months past when we wanted to get started with construction, and if we go with the precast walls, we’re going to be 3 months behind. 

The precast walls will be set much faster than poured concrete, BUT they take 4 weeks to be made.  We simply cannot wait that much longer, so we’re going with poured concrete. 

The Downside

There are a few negatives to NOT having used the precast walls.  For me, the biggest downside is that the walls won’t be 5000 psi concrete.  I really liked that about them.  They will also lack studs and insulation now.  Down the road when we inevitably finish all or some of our basement, we will need to pay to have studs and insulation put in.  Considering the overall cost of 2X4s and insulation, I guess it’s not really that big of a deal, but it would have been nice.

The Upside

The biggest positive is the timeframe.  Followed by durability and my GC’s crew’s comfort with them.  I’ve also been told by some people that I trust very much and who are very handy, that they wouldn’t do precast walls in the location we’re building.  The poured walls will ultimately be cheaper than the precast walls as well.  The gravel needed will also be cheaper.

For the Record

If we were in March right now, I would still be going with the precast walls.  I’m still confident that they would have been very nice, dry, and warm.  Unfortunately, my wife and I made the decision to go with poured to save time.

 

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