August 2015 came with its pleasantly hot summer weather and a busy school holiday schedule, but most of all, it happend to be the month of the successful commencement of our house building.
Our concrete pier block foundations have been surveyed and measured for and soon after that one by one they rose up from the ground. Just like that, the house shape with its exact position on the land has been defined. The so-called "Point zero", meaning our ground floor height, also became more apparent. It felt strange how suddenly we could see and observe the actual physical form, something touchable, something real to look at after almost a year of thourough theoretical preparation and planning.
Measuring the corners of the house
Why we decided to go for block foundations might be a question many of you are pondering about. Like any other decision we made about our house, we considered all the cons and pros of each possibility. Usually, there are a few repeating questions like: the energy efficiency, the effects on human health, the eco factors - co2 emissions, the recyclability and the effects on natural surrounding fauna and flora, the cost to value ratio and returnability of the investment, the difficulty or expertise of workmanship etc.
Though building in Slovakia, our minds are not restricted by thinking of local builders or general magazine culture. I've been lucky to witness some fairly recent house builds built and owned by old school builders and, unfortunately, I can not say I was too impressed. Like any other work domain, building profession is also constantly evolving, progressing and modernising. Modern technologies using natural materials are also on the rise. Why not to have the best of both worlds then?
The architectural plan of our foundations
My husband has always been in love with the idea of pier foundations. I, myself, was a bit hesitant. I suppose still affected by the traditional safe way of thinking. However, considering the elevation of the land, standard concrete foundations would work out rather expensive and on top of that they would create some unavoidable thermal bridges. The recent passive house building alternative of foam glass can only be used on evenly flat plot and its effects on nature are disputable. Another option similiar to concrete blocks was the land screws. I'd done my research and due to the size and overall weight of the house we decided that the use of concrete will be more suitable for us.
By having the house elevated and literally resting on top of the piers, the bottom of the house basically becomes another wall, perfectly possible to insulate to a very high standard. Plus, benefitting from accesibility to the bottom of the house in case of any unexpected maintanance. That is for the gap of about 50cm underneath the house to allow for a neccessary air flow.