The Oak Leaf - August 2016 By Lynn Gastineau President of Gastineau Log Homes, Inc. Welcome to the August 2016 issue of The Oak Leaf! For new reade


The Oak Leaf - August 2016

By Lynn Gastineau
President of Gastineau Log Homes, Inc.

Welcome to the August 2016 issue of The Oak Leaf! For new readers, this is a monthly newsletter that is sent by e-mail to those that have expressed an interest in Gastineau Log Homes. We use this as a way of communicating technical, design and industry information. For more information, check out our web site at

Please "Like" Gastineau Log Homes on Facebook! There are LOTS of photographs of our homes in the Photo section!

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The foundation of this home is part of the overall design element. The natural terrain dicated the choice of foundation but the way it was built dictated the overall "look" of the home.

Trivia Question: True or False: China poured more concrete between 2011-2013 than the US poured between 1901 - 2000? (See the answer at the end of the newsletter.)

Focus on Foundations: The purpose of a foundation is to transfer the weight or load of the building to the earth and also to resist the load imposed on the building by the earth. In this months Oak Leaf, we will discuss the pros and cons of the most common types of foundations to help you in your decision making process while planning your new home.

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The home along the Atlantic coast was built on pilings.

What material and type of foundation is most common? Concrete block or poured in place concrete is the most common residential foundation material. Preservative treated wood, precast concrete and other methods are also available. Concrete slab on grade is the most popular foundation in the Southeast. Basements are most common in the East and Midwest. Crawlspaces are common in the Northwest and Southeast. Pile foundations are commonly used in coastal flood zones to elevate structures above flood levels or eliminate issues caused by sites with steep slopes or weak soil.

According to NAHB (Ntl Assoc of Home Builders) 56% of all new single family homes started in 2014 were on a slab foundation. 28% had a full or partial basement and 15% were on a crawl space.

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Here you can see all the various types of foundations.

Type of foundation is closely tied to the climatic conditions where you are building: Foundations have to be built to extend at or below the frost line. So in colder areas, houses are usually built with a basement as the frost depth may be several feet below the ground. Slab foundations are quicker and cheaper to construct if you are building in a warmer climate and have a flat building site.

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This shows the geographic distribution of the use of basements in 2014.

Are foundations different for a log home? This is a very common question that we hear from our prospective buyers. No, you do not typically require any bigger or deeper footer or foundation wall for a log home vs a stick frame home. The log home may weigh more than the frame home but that weight is disbursed evenly along the foundation. In contrast, a frame wall has all the weight bearing every 16" or 24" depending on the stud spacing. This creates the need for the foundation to be designed and engineered to withstand a high psi for those stud locations. So a typical foundation wall is "over engineered" in between those studs.

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This large custom home was built on a slab foundation in Edmond, OK.

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A one story log home built on a slab can be built quickly and at a lower cost per square foot.

What to consider when choosing a foundation for your new home: First is the building site. The slope of the land, the type of soil, the ease of excavation, the potential view and how you will have to allow for storm water run off are all factors determined by your site. A slab is not a good choice if you have a steep slope. If you are building on solid rock, a basement may be very expensive as it will require blasting. If you want to get your home "up high" for a better view, a basement may be a good choice. Many times the site makes your decision very easy!

Second is your personal preference. Some people do not want a basement because they don't want to go down stairs or they think it encourages collections of "junk." Others like the extra storage space or the ability to finish the basement into additional living space. Some people like the solid feel of a concrete slab floor. Other people don't like to walk on concrete all the time.

Third is your preference for the design or type of HVAC system. If you are building in a northern climate and don't need air conditioning, a slab with radiant floor heat may be perfect for you. If you want central forced air heat, a crawlspace or basement would probably be a better choice. Some of the newer split systems are making this less of an issue however.


The basement construction for this home "raised" the home up so that it provided a spectacular view from the main level.

Rutter basement view

This poured in place basement is the perfect choice for this steep lot. The "walk out" of the back wall allows for natural light and air into the lower level for a more comfortable and inviting environment.

What is the difference between a basement and a crawlspace?

They only have two differences: the height of the wall and a concrete vs a rock floor. As you can see in the photo on the right, a basement wall is typically 8' to 10' tall. A crawlspace wall may be only 3 or 4ft tall. A basement will typically have a solid concrete floor (like a slab.) A crawlspace can have a slab floor also but rock is usually most times. Obviously it would be a poor choice on the lot on the right to build with a crawlspace instead of the basement.


A Superior Wall system being delivered to the job site ready to be installed.


Prepping the excavated site for installation of the wall panels. Note that this foundation does not have a "walk out" as all 4 sides of the basement are below ground.

Alternative foundation systems There are various foundation wall systems that are available today. The two photos above and two below show a Superior Wall system being delivered to the job site, installed, and then finished. If you are planning to finish your lower level, these can be an excellent choice and actually save money. A drier basement and less concrete cracking is also given as advantages to these systems. Check locally to find what is available in your area. An experienced installer is very important.


The finished foundation.


This log home sits on the foundation shown above.

Long Term Considerations: You may also want to consider other factors in making your decision. One is resale. If most houses in your area have a basement, it may not be wise to use a slab as it may lower your appraisal now and in the future. And a basement always gives future buyers the ability to add more square footage by finishing off the space. Another consideration is long term maintenance and repair. Shifting soil and other factors can crack a slab over time. Mechanical systems that break or misfunction can be very expensive to fix in a slab as the concrete is poured around them.

So as you can see, there is not a "Best" Foundation to use for your new home. It is simply the matter of which is "Best" for you and your building site!

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This large home under construction in Florida shows the simplicity of slab construction. Lower risks of flooding, leaking gasses and mold are advantages of slabs. A long term consideration however is tree roots. They can grow under the slab and cause major damage to the foundation.

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This home was built on a slab on the Missouri State Fair Grounds in Sedalia, MO. If you live in Missouri, go to the Fair this month and check it out! Built in 1987, it serves as a Senior Rest Area and is property of the State of MO.

Archived Oak Leaf Emails: Did you know that you can read all 157 previous Oak Leaf newsletters at Past Newsletters on our web site? In December 2014, we changed our format to focus on a particular part of construction or design. If there is a particular area of interest that you have, you may find it in one of these months. They are:
Dec 2014 – Porches
Jan 2015 – Glass
Feb 2015 –Kitchens
March 2015 –Lighting
April 2015 –Fireplaces
May 2015 – Bathrooms
June 2015 – Dormers
July 2015 – Roofs
August 2015 – Landscaping
September 2015 – Park Models
October 2015 – Living Rooms
November 2015 – Master Bedrooms
December 2015 – Christmas decorations
January 2016 – Lofts
February 2016 – Options
March 2016 – blueprint process
April 2016 – Handcrafted Log Homes
May 2016 - Back to Basic plans
June 2016 – Exterior doors
July – Log Corners

Home Shows:
No more home shows until this Fall 2016! We have learned that the Log Home Show is returning to Kansas City the Spring of 2017.

Log Raising:
August 13th: We are tentatively planning our log raising at the future Happy Hounds dog park in Wildwood, MO for August 13th! The building will serve as the offices and admissions center for the new dog park. Come out and watch the logs going up! We will send an email out to everyone in MO and IL when we have a firm date! Or call if you want to be notified. If you come, please dress accordingly for the weather and a construction site and bring your lawn chairs!

Construction Seminar Schedule for 2016:

September 17, 2016
(Note: this is a week earlier than the Sept 24th date announced earlier!)

Click here for information on our one day construction seminars.

Open Houses:

Remember that the GLH Model Home Center on I 70 in central MO is open 7 days a week! We have three houses there that you can tour!

Answer to Trivia Question: TRUE! China produces and consumes about 60% of the world's cement. In three years, they used 6.6 gigatons. From 1901 to 2000 the US used 4.5 gigatons. Think about everything we built in that 100 years. The skyscrapers, the Interstate highways, the dams like Hoover Dam. And they used all that and more in 3 years.

Quote of the Month: "Grandchildren are God's way of compensating us for growing old." - Mary H Waldrip

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