Pouring the Foundation and Starting the Walls

Project: Building an Addition for an Elderly Parent, Episode 1, Part 3

Bob introduces homeowner Howard Brickman, who is building a new addition for an aging parent that will nearly double the size of his colonial home in Norwell, MA. It showcases concrete building technology that is streamlined, efficient, and versatile.


There were some delays in obtaining a building permit because the home is near a quaking bog that serves as a wildlife habitat and natural filtration system for the town. Steve Ivas, an environment consultant, leads a tour of neighboring Black Pond Bog.  Formed by melting glacial remains, the pond is covered by a moss layer that has since formed a 20-foot thick fibrous mat.  At the home site, a hay-bale buffer was created on the property to protect a connected wetland from erosion or runoff during the project.


At every step, time and materials savings speed the construction and save countless hours of labor.  A monolithic pour, or single pour that would normally take three, is used for the concrete slab and frost walls.  ReddiForm's innovative plastic footing ICF forms are used to create and reinforce the structure.  Insul-Tarp is used to create an insulated vapor barrier and reflect heat back into the living spaces.  Fibers are blended into the concrete mix, eliminating the need for a traditional steel reinforced mesh.

Part 1: Planning for Soil Conditions and Setting the Footings
Part 2: Preparing the Foundation
Part 3: Pouring the Foundation and Starting the Walls
Howard and Bob talk about the steps saved in pouring the slab and about Insul-Tarp which acts as a barrier to the moisture below the slab and provides insulation that prevents heat loss. The haunched footings, the slab, and any reinforcing are all done in one step. Traditionally, a 10'x10' steel reinforcing mesh would go down before the concrete is poured, but that step was eliminated by blending the fibers into the concrete mix. Although the mesh adds to the cost of the concrete, this method is still much cheaper than the traditional one. After the concrete has been poured and allowed to set, the diagonals are checked to make sure the slab is completely square and points are perpendicular. Bob also talks with Ron Ardres of ReddiForm about the ReddiForm insulated concrete form (ICF) system that was used for the foundation walls. The ReddiForm blocks are lightweight and made of expanded polystyrene, a material similar to that used for drinking cups but with added flame retardants. ReddiForm's no-tie rebar chair is being placed on the tops of the forms to prepare for the rebar dowels that will connect the walls to the foundation. Holes are drilled into the slab to install sections of rebar through the ReddiForm blocks. These pieces of rebar tie the walls to the existing slab. The walls will be seven and a half feet high with a structural slab or upper floor placed on top. The walls and the first floor slab will all be poured in one pour.
More and more homeowners are converting their houses into multi-generational homes for themselves, their children, and their aging parents. In Norwell, MA, Bob Vila meets a couple making room for a mother-in-law.