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km34567

Superior walls precast foundation

km34567
11 years ago

We are in the planning stages of building our home. Any thoughts on superior walls precast foundation versus a poured concrete foundation?

Comments (76)

  • rollie
    11 years ago

    jagp.

    I like the foundation drainage system that is integral with the crushed rock footings that are required with SW.

    I dug my basement on Feb 16th (in Iowa) which is unheard of here. Opened hole and placed pea gravel. SW showed up at 1030 the next day and left at 330, completed. I worked the next day applying the sills and capping the deck. Had heat and plumbing rough in the basement early on in the 4th day. Slab poured on the 5th day.

    Zero exterior finishing needed.

    Excellent insulation value,

    Easy to finish inside, with conventional materials and labor.

  • bus_driver
    11 years ago

    "Co-worker built a home last year & the builder used SW. Due to improper/careless installation, one of the panels had cracks which leaked. It took him a couple of months to finally get it resolved. Intially the builder tried to half ass the repair which was unsuccessful. Finally a team from SW came out & properly repaired it by applying a membrane over top of the bad areas on the exterior. Based on his experience, I wouldn't use SW if given the choice."

    "-Dave"
    Does one suppose that all the work and materials for any other type foundation will be perfect from every builder/installer? Looks as if the guarantee did have value in the instance cited. I earlier suggested getting the Builder Guideline booklet and found it available online. My only connection to Superior Walls is as a very satisfied customer. Their product is great, their business model is shady. In my case, a local contractor had been installing the system for about a year. Gave me a really great price to help increase his sales volume. As soon as the local volume built up due to the efforts of this contractor, Superior Walls stopped supplying him and took the territory for themselves. I watched all the activities at my site to verify that it was done correctly.

    Here is a link that might be useful: Booklet

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  • simpletony
    11 years ago

    Superior Walls are, in my opinion, franchised and expensive although proven through the years. But a much simpler solution is found with SteelCrete precast walls found at steelcrete dot com where choices include exterior concrete walls with metal stud backing or monolithic concrete studs, either of which are inexpensive and efficient. Proven over decades of use using standard engineering with conventional footings growing out of the ages in the use of concrete subterranean walls, among all other applications for walls, floor and roofs. A complete system where one can pick and choose their benefits.

    Here is a link that might be useful: SteelCrete

  • alphonse
    11 years ago

    Simpletony, is that your company or do you just shill for them?

  • bus_driver
    11 years ago

    simpletony registered for the forum on March 10, 2011.

  • jagp
    11 years ago

    Anyone else on this forum you the Superior Wall System? Any with personal exprerience?

    thanks

  • bus_driver
    11 years ago

    jagp, I suggest you forget about the Superior Walls. Choose something else.

  • GeorgeCF99
    9 years ago

    Personally, as a general contractor who has built commercial and residential cast-in-place, retaining walls, pre-cast, CMU, and slab on grade foundations, I would not install a Superior Wall system in my own house. First, in theory, 5,000 psi concrete is supposed to be "waterproof." In actuality, concrete is just a hardened sponge. There is too much room for error in designing a structure like Superior Walls design that would not support the backfill lateral loads and especially the water tightness that they guarantee. Do a quick search on Superior Wall failures and you will come up with many results and links to other problems people have had. Many have experienced cracks and moisture issues that would not be corrected by SW as they claimed it was an "install problem." I've even heard some installers claim that they are stronger than cast in place walls. That is a joke.
    In a subgrade wall, I would always apply a primer, bituthene membrane, and drainage mat to the outside of a wall - from above the grade to the bottom of the footing. This will ensure there are no water issues. The SW system is relatively new, and I wouldn't be surprised to see basement wall failures in 10-20 years. Do you really want to risk the foundation of your home to a relatively new design? Look what happened with residential stucco and masonite. Look what's happening with cultured stone veneers recently? Do you want to risk that with your entire house foundation? I wouldn't.

  • DqQd
    8 years ago

    First let me thank everyone for their valuable input. We are in the planning phase for our retirement home in the Blue Mountains of PA. Our lot is on a ridge, full of boulders big and small. 2 builders we spoke to use Superior walls, and the third has had bad experience with them in this particular location. He says that SW is ok on less rocky terrain (my impression just from walking around the lot is that the Appalachian range is a big pile of rocks). I would like to know your thoughts on using SW on similar terrain. Thanks.

  • bus_driver
    8 years ago

    Superior Walls started in PA. Contact them. I would never suggest backfilling any foundation with rocks of any size. Haul in suitable backfill.

  • Brian_Knight
    8 years ago

    We use them in NC mountains all the time. Plenty of rocks here. Good advice from busdriver. Better yet, backfill with clean gravel protected by silt fabric.

    Like George, Ive used all conventional foundations but unlike him, I think problems usually arise from bad design and installation not a faulty product. I think CMU is more suspect than Superior Walls, not because its a bad product but because there are so many more variables to screw up on the labor side of the equation. Based on my experience, I would trust a superior wall installation crew to a block mason crew almost any day.

  • PRO
    castles in the sky
    7 years ago

    The architect I work with said to avoid these . Foolishly I tried to save a couple of thousand dollars. The home I built using this product heaves every spring / winter and the doors have to be rehung and drywall cracks fixed. The home is ten years old - its not just settling. Cracks appear in the same place in multiple areas of the house on a yearly basis. The foundation is heaving. I spoke to the architect and told him I was going to contact the company - he laughed and said good luck with that. After contacting the company I see why he laughed.


    Do yourself a favor spend a few thousand more for a real foundation - you will be glad you did - or you can rehang doors and patch drywall on a yearly basis

  • sklka
    7 years ago

    A foundation heaving has nothing to do with the Superior Walls. You need to look at other factors, i.e. if the SW is heaving, a poured or block foundation would also be heaving.

  • PRO
    castles in the sky
    7 years ago

    The foundation is superior walls set on a footer that they approved . THe building moves as a result of the joints and inherent instability of this system. Cracks in drywall as a result of winter freeze then thaw are clearly an indication that the house is moving. The house is set upon a foundation on a footer. For the house to move on a yearly cycle with freeze thaw the foundation must also be moving. This is why the architect tried to steer me away and also why he laughed when I said I woudl contact them - I am doing my best to post this all across the internet so it does not happen to other builders.

  • jamesmoline
    7 years ago

    I am a builder in the great Toledo Ohio area and have used them since 2001. I have over 150 basements installed using Superior Walls and have NEVER had one problem. Te key to anything is installing as the walls were intended to be installed. People that cry about problems most times never followed the procedure and when they had problems blamed the system. On a 9' walls which is used most times I install 6 to 6.5 feet of exterior stone. I makes ure all the blocking is in that is required, deck on, basement floor poured and then back fill. If you do this you will NEVER have a problem. I would be willing to answer any questions because they are the best, much better than a poured walls that I used for the first 20 years of my building career.

  • PRO
    castles in the sky
    7 years ago

    Built exactly to their specs - actually over built put in more stone than what they called for put in more bracing - talking to people who have used them - this is apparently a very common problem especially with larger houses = an examination actually reveals cracks in the concrete - bowing - they are just not worth it - a few thousand for a monolithic pour is well worth it - my architect was correct and apparently very very few architects will recommend them for this reason. The system is bogus I am working on a class action suit

  • PRO
    Charles Ross Homes
    7 years ago

    Construction materials are subject to quality issues both in manufacturing as well as installation.

    Most of the homes we build are on crawl space foundations, but whenever a basement foundation is required we use Superior Walls. We've installed a couple dozen since 2000 with no performance issues. There are two things we don't like about them: 1,) the need for the builder to approve SW's shop drawings which means that we own any errors or omissions SW made translating our foundation plan into shop drawings and 2.) the 3-4 week production lead time.

    I haven't compared costs recently, but the last time I did, I found SW to be less expensive than a waterproofed CMU foundation with rebar and the cells grouted.

  • jamesmoline
    7 years ago

    I find it interesting that castles in the sky sounds like built one home and I have built 150 with no problems and he continues to blame the product. As the builder you do have responsibility for checking that sub contractors do the work they are paid for. Did you see problems during the setting of the foundation? If you are getting movement like you claim then you have more problems than just a poor foundation. Any foundation not set on stable ground will experience problems. What has your general contractor said concerning the issues? A good general wouldn't have set a foundation on unstable ground, maybe you should start with that person and not Superior Walls. Just a thought?

  • PRO
    castles in the sky
    7 years ago

    Actually between my father-in-law and I about 200 - it sounds like you work for the company - just more and more excuses - my house is over built - did I hire a geologist to survey the soil? no - as there are many other homes built on the same soil with guess what - no problems of the house walls cracking - (hmm and they used monolithic pours) I guess it is possible that a meteorite hits my house every year in the winter and fall when I am not at home -

    it seems odd that when my ME friend and architect were asked what the problem was it was they said - the foundation - yup could be 1000 things

    maybe there are sappers working their way across my property - or perhaps a sink hole - yea lets look at all of those instead of the obvious - of course INferior Walls may work when you are building 1200 sf foot doll houses


    This problem is not isolated from what I am seeing. I have at least 18 people in my area alone that I have talked to with the same issue - the system is bogus .

    SO lets see 18 houses all with similar problems - the only common thread - all built on INferior walls - not the same style not the same builder not the same location not the same soil - nope the only common thread is .......Inferior Walls


    Ok so we could argue that

    maybe it was by pure luck that all the soil in the area is stable and by chance the 18 house with inferior walls got built on the only unstable soil - ok and your buying that bridge in Brooklyn when ?

    Or another explanation - of the many builders only the shoddy ones uses Inferior walls- hmm but they built other houses without INferior walls and they are ok - hmm - well I will have to let the expert excuse makers that work for INferior walls come up with an excuse for that one

    Maybe the company should take responsibility for an inferior product instead of all the excuses - instead of always blaming someone or something else -


    This apparently is becoming well know in the industry and explains why my architect warned me and then laughed afterwards when he said good luck with that

    IF anyone else has had issue please post I am going to to get website up on this so we can gather all those with a similar issue into one spot


  • jamesmoline
    7 years ago

    Just so we are straight I don't work for Superior walls and you are welcome to come to the great Toledo area and view my work and product first hand. I have builder friends that build basements out of wood foundations. I personally (even though I am a carpenter by trade) build on a wood foundation. With that said for some reason you have a problem and each area has there own franchise owners. The first thing I would do is get the concrete tested, then I would make sure the walls were set on solid ground, then make sure the bracing was installed properly. To say it's (Superior Walls) as junk isn't the right approach when they have thousands of foundations around the country that work fine. I could point to hundreds of foundations in my area that have leaks and cracks in the foundation and yet that doesn't make all foundation poured junk, but it does mean those guys did a poor job. If I was your builder I would have found out the problem way before you got so angry. This is a side note I am guessing you built your own home. I see this happens in my area also. When you do that you assume ALL the liability for the finished product and probably saw little savings on the overall project. Again you are more than welcome to come to Toledo to see all the ones I have installed with NO problems.

  • PRO
    Charles Ross Homes
    7 years ago

    We have some expansive soils in our area which affect the design of footings and foundations. Local municipalities require that a shrink/swell soil evaluation report be submitted as part of the building permit application process.

    Our practice is to have a geotechnical engineer (a licensed P.E.) evaluate the shrink/swell potential of soils on each and every lot we build on. We also have them specify the dimensions and reinforcing required for the footings. In the case of SW foundations, there are prescriptive requirements for gravel footings depending on the load and the required footing embedment depth per the geotechnical engineer's recommendations. Point loads, depending on their magnitude, may require additional concrete studs and a special pre-cast concrete pad.

    Problems with a SW foundation could be the result of a manufacturing defect, but they could also be the result of a design defect (inadequately supported point loads, for example), a problem with the drainage system or a problem with the design or installation of the gravel footings. I'd enlist the help of a structural engineer familiar with SW to help diagnose the root cause of the problem and to come up with a workable solution.

    Best wishes.

  • PRO
    castles in the sky
    7 years ago

    YEa and I guess the other 18 houses that failed just coincidentally had bad soils as well whereas the hundreds of others on solid foundations just happen not to ? Umm yea ...imagine the odds !!

  • PRO
    Charles Ross Homes
    7 years ago

    The point is that without an objective investigation we simply don't know the root cause of the failure. Rather than jump to a conclusion, you would be well served to engage a professional engineer capable of sifting through the various possibilities, determining the root cause and identifying a workable remedy.

  • PRO
    castles in the sky
    7 years ago

    THe point is if 18 houses failed and the only common denominator is INferior Walls than one has to conclude:


    ITS INFERIOR WALLS!!!

    Different Contractors , different materials , different designs and different soils - the only common denominator ---Inferior walls


    Are you saying that of the hundreds of homes that surround these 18 only those 18 have faulty soil REally !? do you have any idea whAt those odds are ??



  • bry911
    7 years ago
    last modified: 7 years ago

    First, did the same Superior Walls franchiser do the install on all 18 houses? If so, then the walls are not the only common denominator.

    Second, even allowing that Superior Walls are the problem, without knowing why they are the problem, we have only determined that Superior Walls are a problem on your houses or in your area.

    You say that everyone laughed at you for even considering them, well here everyone loves them. We are not 100% sure on them and our architect called several other architects as we sat in the office and they all said we were crazy for even considering something else. So your implication, that architects don't like the wall system, doesn't work in my area. Nor does your failure rate pass the smell test.

    You make assertions that it is well known in the area and it simply is not true. Look over at the Fine Homebuilding forums, those guys are not exactly fast to jump on the latest trend and you can find thread after thread of guys talking about the product quality, and they are not just naked praises there are critiques, but those critiques are typically about backfill and leveling issues.

    I am not saying you are wrong, but I am saying that you need to substantiate what you are saying, if you expect anyone to take it seriously.

  • PRO
    castles in the sky
    7 years ago

    Please take course in logic

    Substantiate ??

    18 failures of inferior walls no failures of other foundations and you still want to believe?

    Go right ahead - I guess the real question is how many are failing and people dont realize it or even mention it - once again I will make the original point- why not spend a few dollars more and get a quality product ?

    you can define yourself as a cheap builder or a quality builder - the choice is yours


    At this point I am no longer publicly commenting as we are moving forward with this issue


  • patriceny
    7 years ago

    I've had superior walls in 2 different houses. We have had no problems with the walls at all. I liked what they offered so much in the first house that when we built the 2nd I specifically requested Superior. The builder we used said he prefers Superior too and he's been in business for 17 years here in New York. We had one minor water intrusion issue in the new house, and superior sent someone up here to investigate. It turned out to be a hole that was drilled for some utility (electric, I think) that was not well caulked. That had nothing to do with Superior yet they left us a tube of caulk anyway so we could fix it ourselves.

    I've been very pleased with the walls and the company.

  • sklka
    7 years ago

    Stop feeding the troll. He obviously has a bone to pick.

  • Joseph Yarborough
    7 years ago

    Castles in the Sky - can you provide a little bit more info about your home? I'm a forensic structural engineer in the northeast, and I have looked at many frost heave-damaged structures. The vast majority of the heave cases I've seen usually result from inadequate frost protection. Do your walls extend below the frost depth around the entire perimeter of your home, or are they adequately protected from frost by other means (e.g. subsurface rigid foam protruding from your foundation's perimeter)? Does your house have a basement-level garage or other unheated spaces with foundations that have not been adequately deepened?

    From a structural engineering point of view, I don't understand on what basis you or your architect would assert that these walls are more prone to frost heave than conventional cast-in-place walls. I get the argument that they are not as robust simply because they are not as massive and because they are segmented, but if they are sufficiently deep and if they are supported on properly prepared competent soil, I don't see how that's relevant. I don't doubt that your house has major issues, but I'm having trouble understanding how these issues could be related to the composition of the foundation.

  • len_lindy62
    5 years ago

    I have a Superior Wall System ( R-5 ) that was installed in 2005. Excellent job and was done in 1 1/2 days, for a 60 by 35 foot footprint foundation. My neighbors on either side had poured foundations. All these foundations were done in early January in South Central PA. It is now 12 years later. The houses on either side had some voids in the pour because they were poured in below freezing conditions. Both houses have had foundations leaks. In the one case my neighbor had to have his basement floor and a part of the wall jack hammered up to make repairs. I have never had a problem in 12 years.


    The added benefit in my experience is the superior insulation you get when you build out the basement walls with R-19 batt insulation. Part of my basement is a shop with no heat in that part. The temperature has never been below 59 degrees in the shop even during cold spells with morning lows of 15 degrees. With the shop equipment running it is comfortable to work there on any winter day in a long sleeve shirt.


    I would recommend a Superior Wall to anybody properly installed. No water problems and superior insulation qualities in the basement with no heat.


    Len Lindenmeyer

    Fayetteville, PA


  • PRO
    James E. Moline Builders, Inc.
    4 years ago

    I am a builder in the greater Toledo Ohio area. I have been building for 30 years and using Superior Walls for the last 18 years. I would tell you if you install them properly, brace them as directed in the instructions, back-fill property then there isn't a better solution on the market. I have NEVER had a basement leak, Never had a basement fail and I have installed / built on over 250 homes during that times. They are warmer, dryer, crack free and ready for drywall. My customers love them and a few of the ones that didn't use them when I first started using them wished they had. In one of my developments I built 106 homes and all but 2 of them used Superior Walls. Both of those people wished they had listen and used Superior Walls. I receive calls from different parts of the state and sometimes the country asking about them. Follow the directions, don't short cut the foundation and you will be one happy homeowner.

  • 293summer
    4 years ago

    Question for len_lindy62 - Plan to build in Fairfield/Carroll Valley area in the future. Could I ask who you used to for your Superior Walls? Thanks! (Didn't appear I could message you directly.)

  • PRO
    James E. Moline Builders, Inc.
    4 years ago

    I use Great Lakes Superior Walls out of Grand Rapids Michigan. You can email me direct through my web site Molinebuilders.com

  • keri
    3 years ago

    I'm in the process of buying a new home and my husband and I are making it our duty to have an unfinished basement! I'm not impressed with SW.
    The first home we witnessed with these SW rip off company... (should be ashamed of yourselves) the entire foundation was CAVING IN! I wonder what ATM bank accounts you simple minded folks have?!!
    Who buys a home with a foundation that will eventually give! You have no idea how long it will last. Besides, if its cracking without a reason...
    I'm not in the business of wasting or loosing money on a crapy foundation.

  • keri
    3 years ago

    he

  • Ally De
    3 years ago

    Good lord. You signed up just to post that?

  • PRO
    James E. Moline Builders, Inc.
    3 years ago

    Keri, Not sure who your anger to pointed to. Is you think its a poor system move on. I have used them since 2000 and over 200 installed t date with never a bad system. Wish you well in finding a dream home


  • Ally De
    3 years ago

    So you signed up to yell at us and call us simple minded fools. Not sure your sweet and highly intellectual well-thought out post will get many converts.

  • dbrad
    3 years ago

    It's no secret that proper installation is a key component of Superior Walls. That's why when we built our basement with them last year, we had them do the install themselves rather than trying to find another non-SW crew. I couldn't be happier with the results either - it's a great system.

  • patriceny
    3 years ago
    last modified: 3 years ago

    Wow, what a blast from the past. I posted on this thread over 4 years ago, and now it's back for a rerun....

    All I can say is most of the same things I wrote above. Nothing has changed since the last post.

    I've lived in a home with Superior Walls for the foundation since 1995. At no time I have entered the "ATM bank accounts" phase so eloquently detailed above.

    I liked them so much in my first home that I used them again in my second build. The factory sent their own crew out to set the foundation, and it's been a wonderful basement for me ever since. The one problem detailed above was not even their fault, yet they sent a crew out to investigate and they left us a free tube of their super-duper caulk (or whatever it is), which my spouse used to patch the hole and it's been 100% trouble-free since.

    It's a warm, dry, clean cellar. I have no complaints and I don't know anyone who has a Superior Walls system who has any complaints either.

    I'm not even sure how to take this post. First you yell at everyone, then you post a follow-up that is just simply "he" - so I'm not sure if you're joking. (Was that supposed to be "he he"...or what?)

    I'm also not sure what the value is in yelling at a bunch of strangers on the internet, and then insulting them all for good measure too. Seems a weird way to make one's case, but then I'm the idiot who has liked her Superior Walls for over 20 years, so I guess that makes me a simple-minded fool. You've all been duly warned. LOL.

  • bry911
    3 years ago

    I thank you for your opinion on SW system. I don't think we can ignore such a well supported and documented opinion, with the data you have given us we shall all be forced to tear down our houses for fear they will one day cave. They, of course, can't cave at the bottom or the top once the home is framed and basement floor is poured, do they just buckle? I just want to understand the physics here is all.

  • millworkman
    3 years ago

    "I've lived in a home with Superior Walls for the foundation since 1995."


    I think partriceny is safe, it's only been 25 years.........................

  • millworkman
    3 years ago

    "I'm just stating my opinion on SW system."


    Actually you are stating it as fact, and you know what they say about opinions.

  • patriceny
    3 years ago

    You all crack me up. Thanks for the laughs this morning. :)

    I don't know I sleep at night, waiting for my cellar to cave in.....

  • Ally De
    3 years ago

    Now she/he is deleting posts. Strange.

  • Rollie Peschon
    3 years ago

    My 10 foot tall SW foundation installed in 1996 is performing perfectly. The neighbors 10 doors down installed in 1994 have no issues. The biggest problem we have is our distance from the franchisee, or we'd install these on every structure..

  • Mike Kammerer
    2 years ago

    Good afternoon- I am in the planning stages of building a 27x52 modular ranch in greene county ny. As I read all these posts it seems like it's all about the installer. Does anyone know of reputable installers in that area. If not how do you find out who the installer/franchisee is? Are they the same person? Are all the walls made in PA and then shipped to the locations? Do you still need to find a mason to finish the floor? I am doing my homework on whether to go with a poured foundation or this SW system. My head is spinning. Any help is much appreciated!

  • PRO
    James E. Moline Builders, Inc.
    2 years ago

    So when Superior Walls started many years ago anyone could install the walls. Today that is not true. Only the franchisee can install the walls. I purchase my walls from Great Lakes Superior Walls out of Grand Rapids Michigan. The have a number of crews and when completed the crew certifies the install. They also have a site guy name Lon that inspects all the installs when completed and he also comes and makes sure all the blocking is installed on the walls as bracing.

    Hope this helps it's a great product that I have personally used to build 200 to 300 homes since 2000.

    Jim Moline

  • 293summer
    2 years ago

    Mike Kammerer - You can find that info here Superior Walls. Find your region and give them a call. They will answer all your questions. Good luck!