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Gebby 03-04-2008 10:40 AM

Footer Question...
I am looking into buying a house in Northern Maine. The winters are very cold and the frost line is about 5 ft. The house is a 3600 sq ft chalet. It is framed and under roof but that is all. The guy sat the house on a monolithic slab that has a 16" deep rebar reinforced footer. It is 2 years old and has only minor cracks in the slab (they are few and they look like typical shrinkage...nothing running along the perimeter). Anyhow, my question is this....I can get the house for a fraction of its cost but I want to make sure I have a good foundation. Can I have an experienced foundation contractor dig out under the slab (small sections at a time) and install a footer that goes down to the frost line? I am hoping this could be done. If it can, what is the proper procedure to follow when doing such a task? The soil is naturally compacted gravel and is very stable. I look forward to any ones input and help!

metal-maniac 03-04-2008 06:14 PM

I do not know the codes in your area but the foundation should have been inspected by your county. If the cracks you are talking about are hairline and no vertical seperation it is not a structural problem and nothing to worry about. As far as extending the foundation down to 5':eek: that could be very expensive. Maybe someone from your area will key in and be of more assistance or know the codes in your area. If not I would find a contractor to look at before buying.It could be a wise investment.

Gebby 03-04-2008 07:16 PM

Thanks for the advice metal, I have called several foundation contractors and they have all said that the cracks are nothing to worry about but that I should insulate down the side of the slab and then 4 ft out from the slab all the way around and that thee will be nothing to worry about. How does that sound to you? I've had contractors and foundations guys look at it in person and this was there advice as well. I just never heard of a footing so shallow in such a cold climate. I did see on a website for shallow foundations in Alaska that they go down 16" and insulate sides and out 4 ft from the slab and that this works good in cold weather. It just seems so foreign to me.

Chris Johnson 03-04-2008 07:18 PM

Float slabs can and do happen in frost prone areas, not normally common but do exist. An engineer has had to design it, which means it has insurance coverage. Contact the building department and get copies (you'll have to pay for them) of the engineers design, reports and inspections. Call them and discuss this and your ideas with them.

Underpinning is what you are proposing and I'm betting it won't be required

Gebby 03-04-2008 08:42 PM

Chris, Unfortunately the slab was designed by the contractor who is selling it. He is a good carpenter but not very knowledgeable about foundations. I am hoping he got lucky and designed it good enough that I can insulate it and have a good floating slab that will last. This is my reasoning for getting as much info as I can. I live in Northern ME and the town that this is in is a town of about 500. I doubt that there are even any code enforcement officers up here.... :thumbup: :whistling2: The one good thing I have going for me is that the slab is on a very solid natural gravel bank that is not going anywhere. I just need as much input about this situation as I can get and yours is very much appreciated as well as metals. Anyone else, please feel free to comment.... Good or bad. I am looking for all input so I can make an educated decision.


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