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October 28, 2004

PATH Explores Slab-on-Grade Modular Housing

Project to study alternative for installation of homes on foundation systems

The Partnership for Advancing Technology in Housing (PATH) will study the technical options for installing modular housing on slab-on-grade foundation systems and examine the alternatives in terms of technical viability, cost and market acceptance.

The research will allow modular housing to find new markets by expanding the benefits and spurring new technology to allow slab-on-grade construction. Typical factory-built modular housing utilizes wood-framed floor structures, which must be set on a full basement, crawl space, or pier foundation. In northern climates where basements are common, this makes modular construction a good option. However, in the growing Sun Belt regions of the south and southwest where the frost line is shallow, a high percentage of new homes use the less costly option of slab-on-grade foundations.

Applying factory-built housing techniques to slab-on-grade construction could develop new advantages for the modular housing industry. For instance, eliminating crawl spaces and raised-pier foundations mitigates potential moisture and mold concerns associated with those foundations in hot-humid climates. In addition, by simplifying the building enclosure at the ground contact, moisture control is easier and more straightforward. Furthermore, with the space below the lowest living level eliminated, insulation is simpler and the concrete slab can improve energy efficiency by providing a substantial thermal storage element. Lastly, by having the house's main living level closer to grade, greater universal design concepts and accessibility is achieved, which is essential when considering an aging population.

To develop systems that allow modular housing to be more compatible with slab foundations, the research project also will address realities of factory production, modular section shipping and setting, and on-site utility and mechanical system connections. The study will culminate in an industry report describing the research process and results, as well as construction documentation of a prototype slab-on-grade modular home.

For more information:
Luis Borray

Content updated on 3/8/2005

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