prefab basement

butterflybushMarch 21, 2006

Does anybody have any information on prefabricated basement walls? I am thinking of useing a PA company. Superior Walls. They make the basement walls in a factory with foam insulation already in and studs. They set up your walls in 8 hours, and then the floor can be poured. I saw it on This Old House or something. I also wonder if a concrete floor can be "finished" at the same time it is poured, to look like tiles or marble. Or does this "finish" have to be done in a second step. This will be a walk-out basement. Also, need good info on up-flush toilets!! Thanks!!

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I love the idea of prefab basement walls. We has precast basement steps put in - they just dug a hole, dropped them in with a crane and then bolted them to the foundation. Took no more than an hour from start to finish. We did have our basement walls poured in place, but used a system called Arxx which is a styrofoam form with rebar set in it. The contractor simply put it in place then poured the cement, backfilled around the forms and the walls were done and even ready for drywall if we choose to finish the basement. It was terrific! It sounds a lot like the prefab walls are like the ones we have, only the concrete has already been poured. If so, I can't think of any reason not to do it!

    Bookmark   March 21, 2006 at 9:30AM
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In observing and participating in building for over 50 years, the Superior Walls is my first choice. I have them 10' high for my basement and would choose them again.

    Bookmark   March 25, 2006 at 5:29PM
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Thanks, bus driver......that's what I want, real experience with Superior Walls. Do you use your basement as a living area? How did the poured floor adhere to the prefab wall? any cracks form there? Any leaks? I like the look of them, and the ease of adding drywall to finish. But I want all the information I can get. I called a local man who installed them in his home, but he would not recommend the guy who actually poured the floor. Is there something I should ask when looking for somebody to pour the floor? Thanks!!

    Bookmark   March 25, 2006 at 6:49PM
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I did more of the work myself than is typical. I contracted the excavation, moved the stone in with my Bobcat. The Superior contractor came and leveled and compacted the stone precisely for the wall set, set the walls. I then compacted the rest of the stone- for the entire floor- most omit this step, but my floor has NO cracks. I used 4 layers of 0.0075 poly over the stone, MUCH more than is typical. Usually, one layer of 0.006 is used. I used a guy from the local readymix comapny to do my floor- I was fortunate to get such a good finisher. No water comes in at all. But basement humidity will be about 75% normally, so I have two dehumidifiers to keep it at 50%. I installed floor drains for them and the water heater drain pan before the final compaction of the stone. Get a copy of the builder instruction book from the Superior Walls contractor early in the process. Then use that info to check to see that ALL the steps are followed. I used twice the minimum number of bolts to hold the sills to the top of the wall and used extra tiedown straps for the floor framing, some of which I made myself from 18 gauge galvanized sheet when I needed a special length. Be sure a nail is in every hole of the straps. I do not know all the details for the newest design of Superior Walls, but all I have heard about them is good.

    Bookmark   March 25, 2006 at 9:59PM
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Of all the houses built, just a small percentage have the Superior Walls system. I suspect that some who did not choose the Superior Walls decided for some reason or another that they did not like the system. The one reason I have seen most frequently on the various forums is the gravel base for the walls, they just had no confidence in it. But consider that I have not seen anyone who actually has the system who is dissatisfied with it. For me, that speaks volumes. I am very surprised that somewhere, some unscrupulous installer of the Superior Walls did not really harm a customer in some way, but again I have not heard of such an instance. But the job must be done correctly in every way to be really satisfactory.

    Bookmark   March 26, 2006 at 1:40PM
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Thank you bus driver. I wish the Superior Wall company had a crew to prepare the floor, and then do the actuall finish of the floor. Maybe they do...I need to check with them. I got the brochure and info and have spoken about it with a rep. Seems like a good system to me. I plan a walkout basement, wonder if the humidity will be less of a problem?

    Bookmark   March 26, 2006 at 2:34PM
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No, it will not be less of a problem. If the outside humidity is 75% or more and the outside temperature is 80 degrees or more, as it frequently is here in the Summer, the basement at typical 72 deg will have higher humidity. Basic science. Do some study on the subject, call the weather forecaster at your local TV station. My basement is not specifically airconditioned nor heated. Humidity over 60% promotes growth of fungus- mildew, mold, etc. Live with that or use a dehumidifier.

    Bookmark   March 26, 2006 at 3:12PM
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I have received a quote from Superior Walls - 206 linear feet of 10' walls for $20K. We really like the system and love the fact that we have not had anyone say that they were dissatisfied. The only thing I'm trying to find out is if I can get competing bids from two wall dealers - I need to know that we are getting a fair quote. Any insight into any of your quotes would be appreciated. We are located in Birmingham, AL.

    Bookmark   March 26, 2006 at 6:25PM
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Don, if that is installed with them furnishing the stone, it is a super good price compared to mine of 3 years ago. "ups and extras" (change orders) might be a surprise, so try to include in the initial price everything that you want that contractor to do. Someone will have to place the sill on top of the wall and bolt it into place. The joints of the wall units and the sill plates must not be at the same place and I had to use 16' 2x10 treated to accomplish that. I do want to say that one old man alone has a tough time getting such lumber up on the 10' wall and in exact position with only a ladder, but I did it. I used over 50 pounds of bolts to hold the sill plates in place- they provide stiffness to the top of the wall.

    Bookmark   March 26, 2006 at 7:53PM
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The quote does not include the stone & drain, but the dealer sales rep is supposed to have "the guy that does 75% of his work" contact me with a price. I will certainly address the potential for upcharges before I sign anything. The quote includes the set crew, per diem, freight, fuel surcharge, crane. Were you able to negotiate with your supplier? Ideally, I'd like to pay no more than 18K for it. We budgeted 15K for our basement and I hate to go 25% over on our very first item!

    Bookmark   March 27, 2006 at 8:12PM
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I did some searching and came across these two negative reviews of Superior Walls:

Contractor Talk

Here it is mentioned in a positive light, but there are no details other than it is a "great product":

Contractor Talk 2

Sounds like most of the negatives have to do with additional expenses (eg, site work for crane), installer issues, or resolution of problems. There don't seem to be many complaints about the product itself.

- Tony

    Bookmark   April 3, 2006 at 9:10AM
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Hi, My husband and I did a lot of research and decided on a "Superior Wall" foundation system. We now have a finished basement that is cool and damp. Mold grows under the furniture and has to be wiped off on a regular. When we are spending time in our finished space we must ALWAYS have blankets on to stay warm and there is ALWAYS a musty odor in the air. I have a gauge which reads at 60% humidity (prime conditions for mold growth)and that is with a dehumidifier running at ALL times. I know I should look under the wall to wall carpeting, but I fear what I'll find and that we will have to remove $3K worth of carpeting/padding. We contacted Superior Walls and they took little if any responsibility for our damp/cool living conditions. We were sold a line when we were told that we would have a warm and dry basement. Instead we have a cool and damp basement. Not much different than that of our former home which has a cinder block foundation. I am writing only what I am experiencing as a home owner.

    Bookmark   August 2, 2011 at 10:36AM
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Sandra, you are being completely unrealistic. A cooler basement will have higher relative humidity than the warmer out side -- laws of physics that no one can change. Get the humidity to 50% for the best balance of minimal fungus activity and most personal comfort. My Superior Walls is superior- I cannot imagine a basement being better. Each step in the building process must be executed properly for the best results. Don't blame the product if it is not installed properly. A good vapor barrier under the floor is vital. I got the builder booklet and personally made sure that every step was correct - and then some. The barrier under my floor is 4 layers of 7 1/2 mil polyethylene- because I had it available at no cost. My dehumidifiers did run heavily for about two years and now run only occasionally. The dehumidifiers are a permanent necessity to control the relative humidity.

Here is a link that might be useful: Relative humidity

    Bookmark   August 7, 2011 at 8:48AM
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We've had Superior Walls basement (2000 sq ft) since 2007 - no a single leak in the walls, no cracks in the floor, very solid structure. I am not sure about the details of how it was dug and put together, but I remember it had gravel base, and there is a french drain around it that takes the water to the front driveway drainage. We have not finished it at all - but we are using it for workshop and storage with no problems. We also have a prefab house on top of it - so we are definately fans of prefab manufactured basement and house.

    Bookmark   February 24, 2013 at 1:10PM
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