Residential and commercial builders welcome anything that can add even a small margin of breathing room to demanding deadlines and inflexible budgets. Usually this margin comes in the form of convincing clients to trim a few items from their wish list or having the good luck to put together a better-than-average crew. Sometimes, however, a fundamental process improvement appears that can make a measurable difference to almost any construction project. When it comes to installing cold weather foundations, Mono Slab EZ Form concrete forms represent that level of improvement.
Any home’s foundation in a cold climate will require extra protection against the potentially damaging effects of frost in the underlying soil. Ice formation underground can put upward pressure on not only the soil but also any structure standing on it. For this reason, insulation is a significant concern no matter what type of foundation is chosen.
Local construction codes usually rely on the Air Freezing Index devised by the National Centers for Environmental Information to determine the right amount and type of insulation needed to cope with likely frost conditions. The AFI analyzes long-term weather data to generate estimations of the how severe and persistent freezing temperatures are in a given locale. The coldest AFI zones, such as those in or near the Arctic, present a challenging environment for setting down a foundation, particularly a monolithic one that sits on the frequently frozen ground.
In locations where freezing temperatures pose a risk of frost heave, a frost-protected shallow foundation is one solution to this foundation-damaging environmental risk. The attraction of shallow on-ground foundations is the ease and speed of installation, as well as the lower cost. The key to making these shallow-depth foundations safe for cold-climate sites is to include sufficient insulation in key locations around the slab.
A shallow on-grade foundation can be the most economical and practical option, but it does have room for improvement. The required additional insulation makes laying a slab foundation in a freeze-prone area a multi-step procedure. Additionally, some contractors still shy away from using on-grade foundations in extremely cold places, even with careful insulating and backfilling.
Getting a cold weather foundation done right typically consumes significant time and labor, even if everything goes smoothly. As previously mentioned, cold weather foundations require additional insulation to safeguard against damage caused by ice infiltrating the soil. In a typical residential or commercial construction scenario, the process will include excavating and leveling the site, installing the insulation needed to protect the foundation and placing and removing the forms for the concrete. Afterwards, any issues or gaps can be identified and corrected. The foundation may be further reinforced with backfilling.
This multiplicity of stages demanded by the conventional process naturally translates into additional workers and days needed to complete the foundation. While standard methods of laying a foundation have been considered adequate for years, a newer option offers the potential to both speed up installation and boost performance.
Builders can lighten some of their burden when installing cold weather foundations by using Mono Slab EZ Forms to install on-grade slabs. This is especially true in cold climates, because the greatest benefit of the Mono Slab system lies in its combining of the forming and insulating functions into one product.
As any contractor knows, every additional day saved in the early stages of a project could translate into multiple days being shaved off the total length of the job. Saved time and work also builds a little safety zone into the budget. Mono Slab concrete forming can realize those savings in both time and cost. The Mono Slab foundation system melds the separate pieces of a traditional slab installation into a multifunctional one-step product that alleviates the need for added labor when installing frost-protected shallow foundations.
While cutting installation down to as little as three days, Mono Slab also improves the energy efficiency of the foundation. Mono Slab forms are themselves insulative, providing both the structure and the insulation for the foundation in one product. This system can reduce the likelihood of insulation gaps that could lead to energy leakage and water infiltration. The importance of guarding against these risks in a frost-protected shallow foundation should be obvious.
Many things can delay a construction project, from unpredictable weather to indecisive clients to an unreliable workforce. An innovation that makes the process of installing a shallow foundation better, cheaper and faster is one smart way that a builder can claim an advantage over both the deadline and the bottom line. Contractors eager to explore the benefits of the next step in cold weather foundations can request more information on Mono Slab ® EZ Form products here.