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Alternative Configurations

This Tech Set is your guide to building a more durable, moisture-resistant building envelope that minimizes maintenance costs. The Tech Set includes commonly overlooked or inappropriately installed steps as well as new technologies. Although we recommend using all of the steps on most houses, we know that they are not appropriate for all projects. For this reason, we offer alternative configurations, including homes with no basement, homes in high-wind areas, homes in earthquake-prone areas, homes with a high ground water table and homes framed using conventional methods. For any of the configurations, alternative products can also be substituted on a one-for-one basis where appropriate.

Homes without a basement

Homes that are built without a basement would not require foundation walls. However, the rest of the features from this Tech Set are still relevant. For example, appropriate foundation drains, termite control measures, backfill and sloping specifications are still applicable.

In slab-on-grade homes, radiant heating is a good choice for heating systems because it is durable and energy-efficient.

In cold northern climates, frost protected shallow foundations are a cost-saving alternative to conventional methods which require the foundation to be dug below the frost line.

Homes in high-wind areas

Houses built in high-wind areas should, as always, follow their local codes, which often do not allow certain OVE techniques, such as 24" o.c. spacing of studs on external walls. In such circumstances, engineered wood wall framing, SIPs, light gauge steel framing, and concrete walls become even more important than conventional framing because of their greater resistance to high winds.

The size of roof overhangs and porches should also be closely evaluated, since an oversized overhang makes it easier for high winds to pull off the roof.

The rest of the features from this Tech Set are still relevant.

Homes in earthquake-prone areas

To optimize durability and disaster resistance, houses built in seismic areas prone to earthquakes should be built of reinforced concrete rather than the other framing options. This is the must earthquake-proof building material. Concrete also allows for the easy application of stucco, which is a durable siding option.

The rest of the features from this Tech Set are still relevant.

Homes with a high ground water table

Houses built on sites with a high ground water table should not be built on a basement. Whether the foundation is a slab or crawlspace, a vapor barrier beneath the foundation should still be used. It is also a good idea to hook up a sump pump to the foundation drain to prevent flooding in the chance of rising water levels.

Site grading should also be extended as far as possible. Many experts even recommend putting the home on a slight mound relative to the surrounding site.

The rest of the features from this Tech Set are still relevant.

Homes framed with conventional methods

If you choose not to use any of the advanced framing methods, such as trim-able open web floor joists, OVE, or insulated headers, you can still benefit from the rest of the recommendations of the Tech Set for a more durable building envelope.

Content updated on 8/4/2006

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