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Screwed! (No, Really)

February 8, 2018

The house is going up and I really don't know where to start telling you about the progress.  Many people have stopped by the jobsite to tour the place and see what the heck we are doing.  Based on comments I have received I guess I should explain this "Texas Basement" concept.


The elevation above illustrates the driveway side of the house.  There is a little garage style door that leads into what I have come to call my "Texas Basement."  You see, in Texas most homes are built on concrete slabs and we don't have the luxury of a basement under our house to use for storage.  Flood plain rules say I can't use this area for living space so storage it has become.  Those who walk through this area comment on how they would want this under their house.  It's a big space!


It is actually quite a simple space to build.  It only took a tad over three days to frame up.  We used eight foot tall 2 x 6 pressure treated studs on this level.  The studs are covered with 1/2" thick treated plywood that is attached using thousands of galvanized nails that are very closely spaced all around each panel.  This nailing pattern creates shear walls that make for a very stiff and structurally sound building.  The exterior walls are covered with a common house wrap and then James Hardie horizontal lap siding is applied as a finished product.  On top of these walls sit 16 inch tall engineered I-joists with an OSB floor deck to complete the base of the house.  That's it - really simple stuff.




 One little detail we had to overcome was really, really important to making this all work.  It's a small detail but crucial when building any house on a slab.  How do we connect the very bottom of the wall to the slab?  You see, when we demolished the old house the anchor bolts that were in the slab were all sheared off.  Plus, since there would be no masonry on this house the new walls were shifted outward into the old brick ledge where no anchors were ever present.


This calls for some strong medicine so where did I turn?  I turned to our friends at Simpson Strong-Tie.  Simpson is a company that makes all sorts of metal products used to hold  houses together and keep them from blowing away.  (We will talk more about hurricane clips and strapping later.)  Now I would like to talk about one cool little gizmo they created and we have used extensively around my slab. 



The TITEN HD heavy duty screw anchor is like a giant wood screw made for concrete.  Engineers said I could have used the 1/2" diameter model but it's Texas - BIGGER is better!!  I chose the 5/8" x 8" screw for more holding power.  Each one of these things is rated to withstand almost 10,000 pounds of pullout pressure.  That's a really nice bolt!!  What's even better is you simply drill a hole into the concrete and use a ratchet to screw this thing in.  It's super simple and super strong.


Some guys may have used a common expansion wedge anchor.  These are similar because you drill a hole, stick a threaded deal down in the hole, then you crank down on the nut and the wedge expands and creates outward forces on the concrete.  These are OK if you are in the middle of a slab.  However, when you are inches from the edge of the slab you don't want to use a wedge anchor.  The forces will cause the concrete to rupture to the exterior and create a lot of repair issues.  Once you make the repairs the engineer will probably recommend the Titen HD as the right anchor for the job.


 Thousands of parts and pieces go into building every new home.  It can seem overwhelming but when you start at the beginning it all falls into place.  Our Texas Basement was a simple place to start and it brought about a few challenges.  When you have great partners like Simpson Strong-Tie to stand side-by-side with you these challenges can be met head on and overcome.


Check in soon as I bring you another story on our way to the top.  


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