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Wood Foundation Under Construction

Discussed in this post are some of the pros and cons of a wood foundation as well as how having a wood basement can affect the resale value of your home in Saskatchewan.

The technical term for a wood basement or foundation is called a “Permanent Wood Foundation”.

Pros and Cons of a Permanent Wood Foundation

Energy savings

The design of a Permanent Wood Foundation allows for batt insulation to be installed inside the stud cavities as well as the option for rigid insulation to be installed to the exterior of the foundation. Wood is also naturally a better insulator than most concrete mixes generally used for home foundations. Combining the additional insulation with wood’s natural thermal properties, you can expect energy savings which helps to reduce utility bills.

Cost efficient to renovate

Finishing the basement into living space in a home that has a wood foundation can be a simpler and more economical process than other foundation types. Because a Permanent Wood Foundation is already a wood stud wall, it is already set up for insulation and the chosen wall finish (drywall, paneling, etc..) can be installed directly to the foundation studs. Electrical wiring and plumbing services are installed like normal except for whatever exceptions are required in the building code for this type of application.

Life expectancy

Wood foundations typically have a shorter life expectancy than traditional concrete foundations. This means that you are more likely to have to replace or maintain a wood foundation more regularly than you would a traditional concrete foundation.

However, maintenance and repair costs could be substantially lower for wood basements as compared to replacing or repairing a concrete basement. Wood also has greater resistance to cracking from freeze/thaw cycles in harsh winter climates.

One of the factors that determines how long a wooden foundation will last is the soil type upon which your home is built. In ideal soil conditions, the Canadian Wood Council says preserved wood foundations can last up to 100 years. Ideal soils have great drainage but also have good load bearing capacity (meaning the soil is strong enough to bear the weight of your home).

Clay-rich soils, like those in Regina and other parts of Saskatchewan, may not be ideal for promoting the maximum longevity of a wood basement. However, if excavated, back-filled with sand or gravel, waterproofed, and constructed correctly, it is possible for wooden foundations to have a long life expectancy even in clay-rich soils.

Poured concrete, reinforced concrete block, and slab foundations, on the other hand, can regularly be expected to last a lifetime, 80 to 100 years or more in most soil conditions provided they were originally quality built.

The type of wood used also has a huge impact on the durability of a wood basement. In North America, naturally durable species such as Western red cedar, Eastern white cedar, yellow cypress and redwood are typically used for wood construction projects since these species are resistant to decay in their natural state.

The Re-sale Factor of a wood foundation

In some locations (Like Regina) wood basements carry a negative stigma in the minds of potential home buyers because of their perceived (but not necessarily actual) deficiency. What does this mean for you as a potential seller of a property with a wood foundation? or as a potential buyer considering the purchase of a home with a wood foundation?

If you are the home seller — It means that despite the integrity of your wood foundation, your home may sell for less money than if it had a concrete foundation (especially if there is a known negative stigma in your local real estate market). Fear of possible maintenance and repair costs may lead some home buyers to offer less money to buy your property versus a comparable home with a traditional concrete foundation. This is especially the case for older homes with wood basements. The older the home the more likely home buyers are to become increasingly cautious of possible maintenance and replacement costs to the wooden foundation. To fight against this fear it would be wise to have the foundation inspected in advance of putting your property on the market. Any information or documentation you can provide to interested buyers on the health and integrity of your wood foundation could help protect thousands of dollars in re-sale value.

If you are the home buyer — It means that you need to get educated about the property you are interested in, the local market attitude or negative stigma towards wood foundations (if any), and to assess your own personal comfort level with the situation. If you are not at all comfortable owning a home like this, you should pass on it. If you are comfortable, than you need to get prepared to have the wood foundation inspected and get as much information as you can about the state of the foundation; It is original to the home? If not, how long ago has it been replaced? Is there any documentation available? This will help you determine what type of life expectancy is remaining and if repairs or replacement will be needed during the length of your ownership. If there is a local negative stigma towards homes with wood basements, a careful analysis on re-sales prices and sales history will be needed to ensure you are not over-paying for the home.

If you are finding yourself wondering what the local real estate market is like anywhere in this province…. That is where we can help you. We at the Flatlands Real Estate Team know our stuff and we can provide guidance in all sectors of the real estate market including Residential Homes & Condos, Commercial Real Estate, Apartment Buildings & Multi Family Properties, Business Brokerage, and Farm & Acreage Real Estate. Feel free to reach out to us with your real estate questions, initial consultations are always free and confidential.

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