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A Developers View of Wafflemat

May 19, 2020

The development strategy created by Century 22 Communities is based on the belief that a home, and its surrounding community, should be designed and constructed to last 100 years. In order to achieve the 100-year sustainability goal, C22C has gone to great lengths to analyze and re-design all the systems and components of a typical home to improve the reliability and reduce life-cycle cost.
When we applied our “re-thinking” process to the house foundation, the challenge was to find a better way to achieve sustainability regardless of soils conditions, as every builder knows a poorly designed foundation will eventually create major problems throughout the structure. Therefore, our 100-year house needed to have a “100-year foundation.”
Two years ago, we began considering a large development opportunity in El Paso, Texas. El Paso is in an area having moderately expansive soil conditions, and we knew the traditional, and most common, solution for unstable soil conditions in the Southwest was to use a posttensioned ribbed slab. However, we also knew that post-tensioned ribbed foundations in the region have been experiencing many failures.
It was obvious our foundations would require upgrades in design, and that the traditional slab-on-grade approach would fall short of meeting our 100-year sustainability objective -- even though whatever new design approach we chose to improve upon the traditional foundation design method was bound to increase cost. However, we felt the additional cost was unavoidable if we were to achieve higher foundation reliability.
We reviewed the Wafflemat foundation-forming system distributed by Wafflemat Foundations. A post-tensioned Wafflemat foundation is designed to handle extremely expansive soil conditions. The “upside down egg crate” or “waffle” concept allows the foundation to resist uplifting caused by the movement of the underlying soils by providing “extra room.” We concluded we would pay for this slightly more expensive approach because we would receive higher assurance our foundations would be sustainable, and meet our 100-year goal.
After working closely with Wafflemat Foundations to refine our design and produce detailed cost estimates, we came to an amazing discovery: A Wafflemat foundation not only improved our foundations, but also reduced our costs! How could something be better and cost less at the same time?
Comparing the total cost of a Wafflemat foundation to the cost of a traditional posttensioned ribbed foundation (the solution promoted by the Post-Tensioning Institute), we realized the additional, unanticipated savings described below:
General Earthwork - We performed far less earthwork to prepare the Wafflemat “pad.” We also could ignore the need to remove poor soil, and then back-fill/recompact with imported soil.
Trenching for Footers - We eliminated trenching for footers in all but the most highly expansive soils.
Concrete - We reduced the amount of concrete required for the overall foundation by up to 35%.
Water and Sewer Underslab Feeds - We simplified the installation of buried utility lines under the foundation by eliminating deep footers.
When we tallied the total first cost of the Wafflemat foundation (taking into account all the savings in materials, labor, and equipment, and the added cost of the Waffleboxes), we concluded Wafflemat would not be more expensive. In fact, we concluded that in moderate to high production building situations, the Wafflemat system would usually cost less!
We worked out detailed cost estimates for a Wafflemat Post-Tensioned foundation, a Post Tensioned Ribbed foundation, and a Rebar-Reinforced Ribbed foundation of the same size (2,200 sf) and same structural strength. Compared to the Wafflemat Post-Tensioned foundation, the Post Tensioned Ribbed foundation had a 12% higher cost, and the Rebar- Reinforced Ribbed foundation a 24% higher cost.

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Also in White Papers and other Documentation

Wafflemat Slabs Provide Superior Performance

January 21, 2020

This paper provides a discussion and summary of the performance of Wafflemat ® slabs on grade. The discussion contained herein is based upon studies performed by the geotechnical firm of Purcell, Rhoades & Associates (ref. 1), as well as observations of the performance of installed Wafflemat foundations (Appendices A-D) over a twenty-year period. Post-tensioned, slab-on-grade construction and mild reinforced mats have been used for decades to provide adequate support for residential and light commercial construction.

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Lowering the Carbon Footprint When Using Wafflemat

January 21, 2020

A Climate Change Gas Emissions Analysis on the Production, Transportation, and Use of Concrete in Slab Foundations. “Use of the Wafflemat foundation-forming system in residential home construction can reduce the level of climate change emissions by 20% [the equivalent of 4 to 9 tons less CO2 released into the atmosphere of an average 1,800 sf home] when compared to the use of conventional slab foundations. Other emissions reductions are also projected.”

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Site Development and Wafflemat

January 21, 2020

If a project is planned from the beginning to use a Wafflemat foundation, site development is no more complicated than with any other type of foundation. In fact, because a Wafflemat foundation sits higher above the graded pad height than either ribbed or uniform-thickness slabs, street and curb heights can be elevated an additional 6 to 8 inches. This results in significantly reduced costs for excavation and off-haul of soil.  Since less dirt work is required, the cycle time or site development can also be reduced, resulting in additional cost savings.

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