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    Any Contractors or Construction Experts Here? Wood Foundation Question

    Sorry to bug you all, but I figure that people on a sports board in the state of Iowa might know something about this in the state of Iowa.

    We are looking at purchasing a home built in 1990 that has a wood foundation. It has never had any water issues, other than once when the sump pump failed. It is on a raised hill, so it seems like it accounts for water management. This site seemed to indicate that they can be a great option in the state of Iowa... however, it's obviously by a dude who would potentially sell these foundations:

    A Wood Foundation… How Long Can it Last? @ DPO Construction LC

    Does anyone have any experience with wood foundations? It seems like this is a solid enough decision, but we just wanted more information. Thanks, all!


    M 7/09

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    Re: Any Contractors or Construction Experts Here? Wood Foundation Question

    Quote Originally Posted by Angie View Post
    Sorry to bug you all, but I figure that people on a sports board in the state of Iowa might know something about this in the state of Iowa.

    We are looking at purchasing a home built in 1990 that has a wood foundation. It has never had any water issues, other than once when the sump pump failed. It is on a raised hill, so it seems like it accounts for water management. This site seemed to indicate that they can be a great option in the state of Iowa... however, it's obviously by a dude who would potentially sell these foundations:

    A Wood Foundation… How Long Can it Last? @ DPO Construction LC

    Does anyone have any experience with wood foundations? It seems like this is a solid enough decision, but we just wanted more information. Thanks, all!
    bump. Very curious to hear what folks have to say about this. Our realtor went out of the way to point out that it had a wood foundation and encouraged us to do some research on the subject. Everything I can find says that with proper water management, it shouldn't pose any problem at all, and is actually easier to repair than poured concrete, should anything happen. Other places have suggested that it will negatively affect the resale value on the home. Resale isn't particularly a concern for me, as I plan on retiring in this home.


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    Re: Any Contractors or Construction Experts Here? Wood Foundation Question

    I think you are good. It appears this wood foundation lasted almost 2000 years.

    The History Blog » 2013 » April » 10


    "There are five real good recruits in the state. We got three of them. One couldn’t get into school, and the other went to (the University of) Iowa...which is about the same thing." - Coach Johnny Orr

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    Re: Any Contractors or Construction Experts Here? Wood Foundation Question

    I had a friend who built a very nice house up in Brainerd, MN with a wood foundation around 10 years ago. I remember asking tons of questions at the time because I wasn't familiar with them. I recall him telling me is that they were very common in that area of MN and he had other friends who had them in their homes with no issues.

    I don't know what the advantages or cost savings (if any) are. It just seemed like it was a preferred method in their area at the time.



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    Re: Any Contractors or Construction Experts Here? Wood Foundation Question

    Quote Originally Posted by VeloClone View Post
    I think you are good. It appears this wood foundation lasted almost 2000 years.

    The History Blog » 2013 » April » 10
    Well, you can't argue with history! BOOM!

    Quote Originally Posted by SwirlingFloater View Post
    I had a friend who built a very nice house up in Brainerd, MN with a wood foundation around 10 years ago. I remember asking tons of questions at the time because I wasn't familiar with them. I recall him telling me is that they were very common in that area of MN and he had other friends who had them in their homes with no issues.

    I don't know what the advantages or cost savings (if any) are. It just seemed like it was a preferred method in their area at the time.
    Thank you! That's really good to hear, as MN obviously gets way more snow than we do. It looks like it can make it warmer in the basement, and since that's a pretty central living area in this house, I would hope that would mean cheaper heating costs. It sounds like there's not much issue with termites due to how they treat the wood, but I'm pretty sure we'd still get a full pest inspection as part of closing...


    M 7/09

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    Re: Any Contractors or Construction Experts Here? Wood Foundation Question

    Quote Originally Posted by SwirlingFloater View Post
    I had a friend who built a very nice house up in Brainerd, MN with a wood foundation around 10 years ago. I remember asking tons of questions at the time because I wasn't familiar with them. I recall him telling me is that they were very common in that area of MN and he had other friends who had them in their homes with no issues.

    I don't know what the advantages or cost savings (if any) are. It just seemed like it was a preferred method in their area at the time.
    one concern some seemed to have was termites. The wood is treated with chemicals that discourage termites, but in central Iowa, I wouldn't think we'd need to worry about that, either.


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    Re: Any Contractors or Construction Experts Here? Wood Foundation Question

    Quote Originally Posted by Angie View Post
    Well, you can't argue with history! BOOM!



    Thank you! That's really good to hear, as MN obviously gets way more snow than we do. It looks like it can make it warmer in the basement, and since that's a pretty central living area in this house, I would hope that would mean cheaper heating costs. It sounds like there's not much issue with termites due to how they treat the wood, but I'm pretty sure we'd still get a full pest inspection as part of closing...
    Its the wet springs and summers I would worry about. If you have a washed rock along your house, yes it will help drain the water around the house, but since water moves through it easy it will pull water out of the soil toward your house. It sounds like they do all the correct things to make the wood water resistance. There are a lot of houses in Iowa with water issues in the basement, a lot of them are drained correct. Tile and evespout can get plugged so that is something you will always have to keep an eye on.


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    Re: Any Contractors or Construction Experts Here? Wood Foundation Question

    My dad was in construction for 20+ years, and he recently talked to someone who was looking at a house with a wooden foundation, and he said avoid it. I may be good, it may not. If it happens to rot, it is gonna be a pain to fix. Yet, it looks like they have a good history, just my two cents.


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  9. #9
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    Re: Any Contractors or Construction Experts Here? Wood Foundation Question

    Quote Originally Posted by kingcy View Post
    Its the wet springs and summers I would worry about. If you have a washed rock along your house, yes it will help drain the water around the house, but since water moves through it easy it will pull water out of the soil toward your house. It sounds like they do all the correct things to make the wood water resistance. There are a lot of houses in Iowa with water issues in the basement, a lot of them are drained correct. Tile and evespout can get plugged so that is something you will always have to keep an eye on.
    That makes sense. I'm guessing just wetness around the walls is the first place we'd see anything? We looked really closely yesterday and didn't see anything, and they said there has never been any wetness down there before (enough that they replaced the carpet that got ruined by the sump pump with really nice, fairly expensive carpet) a couple of years ago, so I hope that means that they were telling the whole truth.


    M 7/09

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    Re: Any Contractors or Construction Experts Here? Wood Foundation Question

    Quote Originally Posted by cmjh10 View Post
    My dad was in construction for 20+ years, and he recently talked to someone who was looking at a house with a wooden foundation, and he said avoid it. I may be good, it may not. If it happens to rot, it is gonna be a pain to fix. Yet, it looks like they have a good history, just my two cents.
    That's the hard thing. With it being almost 25 years old, you'd HOPE that any problems would have presented themselves by now (especially with the floods of 94, and the several from the 2000s), but who knows??


    M 7/09

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    Re: Any Contractors or Construction Experts Here? Wood Foundation Question

    Quote Originally Posted by Angie View Post
    That's the hard thing. With it being almost 25 years old, you'd HOPE that any problems would have presented themselves by now (especially with the floods of 94, and the several from the 2000s), but who knows??
    Yeah, you would think, but you never know.

    My dad is also known to be very careful when it comes to construction stuff. He doesnt want to have to work on it again.


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    Re: Any Contractors or Construction Experts Here? Wood Foundation Question

    Quote Originally Posted by cmjh10 View Post
    Yeah, you would think, but you never know.

    My dad is also known to be very careful when it comes to construction stuff. He doesnt want to have to work on it again.
    I like that policy. Measure twice, cut once!!


    M 7/09

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    Re: Any Contractors or Construction Experts Here? Wood Foundation Question

    Its not fool proof but taking a hammer to the wood and listen / feel the response of the hammer can give you a good idea of the density, moisture, and soundness of the wood. This is used on similar bridge components as well. If it is not treated the species of wood will really affect the lifespan.



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    Re: Any Contractors or Construction Experts Here? Wood Foundation Question

    Quote Originally Posted by justincl View Post
    Its not fool proof but taking a hammer to the wood and listen / feel the response of the hammer can give you a good idea of the density, moisture, and soundness of the wood. This is used on similar bridge components as well. If it is not treated the species of wood will really affect the lifespan.
    Thank you!! We'll do that. I would assume, also, that most people who do inspectors would be familiar with wood foundations?


    M 7/09

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    Re: Any Contractors or Construction Experts Here? Wood Foundation Question

    Not necessarily so it may be worth asking during the inspector selection. As others have noted, the drainage, termites, and settlement would be may biggest concerns. With regards to settlement the wood has very limited ability to transfer stress to other components like a solid concrete foundation would. But if it has been there 25 year with little distress one would think you should be OK.



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