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Old 12-02-2012, 10:44 PM   #1
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Mountain Homes


Born and raised in good ole wisconsin, I understand how to put a foundation in clay type soils. Did some building in coastal california as well, but I'm wondering how do you build a foundation for a home on the side of the mountain.

Let's say for example, Vail colorado. Let's say the site is sloping 40 feet front to back and the depth of the lot is about 100feet. Is it simply a stepped foundation that rests on the rock? Is the concrete actually joined to the rock via dowels or something? I would imagine column footings with a concrete frame tieing them together above the elevation of the rock. Could the frame be wood? Any insight here?
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Old 12-02-2012, 10:54 PM   #2
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Re: Mountain Homes


It will be up to an Engineer to evaluate the site conditions, soils, seismic history/conditions & loads generated by the structure to determine what type of foundation will be used & how it is constructed.

Yes, more than likely some type of stepped foundation will be involved.

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Old 12-02-2012, 11:33 PM   #3
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Re: Mountain Homes


Too many variables to answer without more info, topographic site plan, soil tests, elevations, ect.. definitely for an engineer.

Here we build on hills a lot. Generally large concrete piers drilled, set and poured in place in my experience. Usually block or ICF walls forming a stepped wall walk out basement.
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Old 12-03-2012, 01:30 PM   #4
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Re: Mountain Homes


Of course, everything is a special case (need many engineers to ride that train)...lol...and one persons hillside is another's cliff. Vail? Isn't that prairie land?

Feeling spunky today...or maybe it was the two types of glue/acoustic sealant/caulk fumes I breathed in yesterday....how I love putting up VB...

On the west coast where I am , we are blessed with igneous extrusions, with a meter or so of compact glacial till in valleys. You have to pay consideration to the fault profile of the rock. Sounds like you'll need to fork over for geo assessment.

Since we are getting antsy about earthquakes, our pier footing detail is evolving upwards...usually involves (3-6+) 5/8" - 1" rebar pinned and epoxied 12" min into bedrock for 12" (ex. deck) - 24" diameter piers.

On top of pinned saddled piers, you can build a wood deck/house.

For stepped concrete walls, if on bedrock, usually doesn't need spread footings, but they need to be pinned as above for piers. The rebar schedule is usually lots of 5/8" 16"-24" OC vertical and horizontal. Although, after the Chile earthquake, too much rebar has proven to be a bad thing...

Personally, I like concrete walls...at the very least, if building on a slope, I'd have a concrete wall core, then have piers on steeper parts.
ex.
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Old 12-04-2012, 12:32 PM   #5
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Re: Mountain Homes


That's great info melissam. In the pic you posted, when it is finished, would you typically see some kind of skirting coming down from the floor deck elevation to "hide" the foundation? How is the bottom of the deck typically sealed from weather and/or vermin/insects?
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Old 12-07-2012, 06:05 PM   #6
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Re: Mountain Homes


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That's great info melissam. In the pic you posted, when it is finished, would you typically see some kind of skirting coming down from the floor deck elevation to "hide" the foundation? How is the bottom of the deck typically sealed from weather and/or vermin/insects?
You could skirt it...however staining/painting lattice is torture, absolute purgatory. I'd go with a solid skirt of some kind. In the case above, they haven't skirted it. The main floor is sheathed underside (furring strips at seams) and caulked. If you do a good job, no worries about vermin/insects getting in.
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Old 02-28-2013, 12:07 AM   #7
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Re: Mountain Homes


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Old 03-09-2013, 12:45 AM   #8
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Re: Mountain Homes


Here are a couple more examples of building on slopes using piers and conventional foundation.
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Old 03-18-2013, 08:40 PM   #9
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Re: Mountain Homes


I've been building in the mountains for years and almost every foundation is stepped down one way or another. Flat land is rare. Where I build, the footers have to be continuous, meaning vertical as well as horizontal, at every step, and tied together with rebar.

One house, I had to blast the top off a huge boulder to lay the footer. On another, the top of one stuck up in the corner of the basement. The owner liked it and we poured the concrete around it. He used it as a table.
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Old 03-19-2013, 12:02 PM   #10
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Re: Mountain Homes


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I've been building in the mountains for years and almost every foundation is stepped down one way or another. Flat land is rare. Where I build, the footers have to be continuous, meaning vertical as well as horizontal, at every step, and tied together with rebar.

One house, I had to blast the top off a huge boulder to lay the footer. On another, the top of one stuck up in the corner of the basement. The owner liked it and we poured the concrete around it. He used it as a table.
Yeah, some folks like that...that is the last thing I'd want. Maybe on the outside as a feature (concrete patio). I see them leaking a lot around here...so much so, in one case, a neighbor has a small trench (depression) formed into the concrete to drain the trickle of water into drain. Kills the space a bit...have to wonder about having a permanently damp rock and wall in one's house. Beyond the aesthetics, I found myself watching where I stepped lest I get my socks wet or I trip on the depression...
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Old 03-19-2013, 06:44 PM   #11
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Re: Mountain Homes


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Here are a couple more examples of building on slopes using piers and conventional foundation.
Nice pics. Are these part of a family compound or something? They are so similar except for the foundations.
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Old 03-20-2013, 12:39 PM   #12
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Re: Mountain Homes


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Nice pics. Are these part of a family compound or something? They are so similar except for the foundations.
A development of 38 'cottages' up the coast in BC. A lot of blasting took place for the siting of cottages.
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Old 04-20-2013, 10:14 AM   #13
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Re: Mountain Homes


there is all kinds of odd foundation work to be had in the mountains

my favorite is a 6-8 unit townhome complex in vail, it's on the side of a hill, a parking garage is underneath the complex, the townhomes rise up the hillside, there is about a 50 plus ft difference between the parking garage entrance and the bottom floor of the top unit furthest up the hill.

They dug out the hillside, poured a concrete foundation and enclosure for the parking garage, then filled a void with foam and built on top of the void as it stepped up, because back filling with dirt would weigh too much.

Some other houses you'll drive in and park on the top floor and then have 2-4 floors of living below that. Usually the driveway consists of a bridge to the house.

it's not uncommon for the concrete and excavation work to cost 100,000 to 200,000 for a home. It can easily go up from there, 500k for excavation and concrete for a 3-4 million build cost isn't really out of wack
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Old 04-23-2013, 07:45 PM   #14
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Re: Mountain Homes


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It will be up to an Engineer to evaluate the site conditions, soils, seismic history/conditions & loads generated by the structure to determine what type of foundation will be used & how it is constructed.

Yes, more than likely some type of stepped foundation will be involved.
Just as my Coloradan bretherins have said. At 7650' feet here in the foothills, we basicallly pour a stepped spread footer, rebar tied together with 24" verticals and two top/bottom rebar runs in the stem walls. Footer has 2 rebar runs.

We're basically on solid/good decomposed granite and don't have to tie into any substanstial rock we encounter. The spread T footer is more for freeze considerations, and all stem walls have to be formed to prevent freeze uplift.

Our local has a freeze depth of 48" depth for the footers. Any subsequent slabs are just floating on natural well compacted soils. We really don't have a settling or heaving issue here and I don't see any mono-pours or post-stressed foundations used up here in the mountains.

This foundation is accepted by my county w/o any eng stamp.

On steep slopes where warrented, we'll use piers which are caged and we do require eng for each circumstance.

Go down the hill into Denver though and we get into bentonite country with all sorts of heaving and varied solutions.

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