The problem started for this home when, a few years earlier, the lake the property sits next to rose to higher-than-normal levels and flooded many surrounding properties. The house had floodwaters right up to sandbags for two weeks straight, which were two to three feet above their floor level. The house had no basement, just a combination of an inaccessible dirt crawlspace and a ground level porch that had been covered and sealed up in a previous remodel, creating another inaccessible crawlspace. Now, 2 years later, the heating and air conditioning system, whose ductwork ran under the house in these crawlspaces, was circulating the remnants of this flood throughout the house; air laden with mold spores.
GROUND LEVEL PATIO THAT WAS SEALED
Since the crawlspaces were inaccessible, the homeowners were left with a choice to either create accessibility by digging the crawlspace deeper and get to the sources of the mold and remediate them or tearing down the home and starting new. They choose to start new and tear down their beloved home. The health concerns that had dogged them in the last two years were just too apparent to turn a blind eye from and the process began to create a new house that would stay safe from future mold concerns and be a healthy space to raise their young family.
Foundations for the Future
NEW WATERPROOFED FOUNDATION AT FRONT
The entire property sat in a floodplain with suspect soil. To solve this issue, over 3 feet of sand was brought in and compacted over the entire build site which replaced the existing suspect soil content and raised the main level of the house out of the floodplain elevation. The raising of the ground elevation ensured that the new foundation would keep future floodwaters far away from the structure of the house. Drainage systems were installed around the perimeter of the house and perimeter soil levels were engineered to keep water from ever again coming right up to and surrounding the house.
INSULATION UNDER CONCRETE SLAB
MASS WALLS ON FIRST FLOOR
Upon this new clean sand, the foundation was installed as a “slab on grade”, foregoing a traditional Minnesota basement, but included first-floor concrete walls around the central guest bath creating a first-floor storm shelter as well as a central mass wall temperature control center. The foundation walls and the concrete slab were insulated. Heating and cooling air ducts were laid directly on the slab under areas of raised floors, which accommodated the ductwork and created visual interest in the flow and function of the house. These methods gave the otherwise cold slab warmth in the winter and mass to create comfortable temperatures within the house in the summer.
Humidity & Fresh Air Control
Framing for the house continued into winter when normally dry conditions would keep the house from absorbing high amounts of moisture. The winter of construction turned out to be a wet one and high snowfalls intruded into construction spaces. By cleaning all wall cavities of debris, a possible mold food source, before the walls were covered and by using multiple de-humidifiers while the home’s walls were being covered with drywall, humidity levels were lowered to acceptable levels that would be appropriate for hardwood flooring installation and drywall seam drying. For the future occupants, an air exchange unit and humidifier were installed so that once the family moved in, the humidity levels could still be monitored and the flow of fresh air that is necessary for a healthy environment would be controlled even in the winter.
Now the family enjoys a healthy environment that is an updated and better version of the beloved home that had to be torn down. The best of that home was recreated in the new house with all the homeowners loved and all they desired, creating the most supportive environment they could image. Happy families are the best reward for the hard work it takes to build new.
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