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Precast Concrete Foundation and Wall Panels

A concrete wall cast in a factory and assembled in the field that can be used below or above grade

View the ToolBase TechSpecs - Precast Concrete Panels PDF file for an overview of this technology.

Precast concrete wall panel is lowered by a crane into place.

Precast concrete foundation and wall panels can take many forms. Some consist of steel-reinforced concrete ribs that run vertically and horizontally in the panels. Others are solid precast concrete panels. Panels are precast and cured in a controlled factory environment so weather delays can be avoided. A typical panelized foundation can be erected in four to five hours, without the need to place concrete on site for the foundation. The result is a foundation that can be installed in any climate zone in one sixth of the time needed for a formed concrete wall.

Some manufacturers cast the concrete against foam insulation that provides the form during manufacture and added R-value in the wall. Panels range in size from 2'-12' in width by 8' - 12' in height and are typically installed with a crane on top of 4" to 6" of compacted stone. The stone facilitates sub-slab drainage and adequately carries and transfers the load from the foundation wall. Panel connections consist of bolts and sealant. The foundation can be backfilled as soon as it is braced per manufacturer's specifications.

The controlled temperature of the processing plant allows the manufacturer to work with concrete admixtures that focus on ultimate strength rather than cure time and temperature. Manufacturers are able to produce mixes that harden to 5,000 psi, which is stronger than concrete block or concrete walls formed and cast in the field. Better control of the concrete mixture and curing environment allows the use of low water/cement ratios that results in a dense material that prevents water penetration.


Affordability

Precast panels can be cost competitive with cast in place concrete, while at the same time providing some thermal resistance (dependent upon manufacturer).

Quality and Durability

Precast panels are fabricated and cured in a controlled factory environment. To allow for transportation and handling, very strong (usually 5,000 psi) and more water impervious mixes are used to cast these walls. Because the masonry does not cure on site, precast panels present an opportunity for builders in harsh climates to continue building during winter conditions.


Easy

Companies and their licensees are located throughout the U.S, however, manufacturers tend to be more concentrated in the eastern states where basement foundations prevail. There is a geographical limit to an economical shipping distance in the 250-300 mile range.


Priced in the $55 - $65 range per linear foot of wall, precast systems are competitive with other foundation walls, particularly when costs are examined as an assembly that includes footings and sub-slab drainage. Precast walls can be installed quickly in any weather. Because the concrete is cured in the factory, precast foundations can be backfilled as soon as the slab is placed and first floor bracing is in place, enhancing jobsite safety and site accessibility.


Foundation walls are relatively maintenance free. Regular maintenance of eave gutters and grade and plantings around foundation to assure that water is not ponding adjacent to the wall is required of any foundation system.


The 2003 version of the International Residential Code (IRC) recognizes precast concrete foundation walls. Designs that utilize precast walls should be submitted for pre-approval with other architectural details at building permit application.


Not Applicable


Installers should be experienced with assembling prefabricated foundation panels. In fact, some companies only allow certified installers to deliver and erect their systems. Once panels are erected, sealed, and bolted together, the basement slab can be poured. Floor joists above the foundation are conventionally installed and provide some of the bracing for the foundation walls. Once braced by the slab and floor system, backfilling against the walls can take place.


Some manufacturers provide a 15 year warranty. Many states require builders to provide a ten year warranty on the major structural components of a home that is sold in that state.


Priced in the $55 - $65 range per linear foot of wall, precast systems are competitive with other foundation walls, particularly when costs are examined as an assembly that includes footings and sub-slab drainage. Precast walls can be installed quickly in any weather. Because the concrete is cured in the factory, precast foundations can be backfilled as soon as the slab is placed and first floor bracing is in place, enhancing jobsite safety and site accessibility. Door and window openings, steel beam pockets, and brick ledges must be cast into the panels, so orders must be customized. The wall sub-base must be compacted and leveled, similar to precision required of footings. Use of precast panels should be submitted for approval by the building official at time of building permit application.

Disclaimer: The information on the system, product or material presented herein is provided for informational purposes only. The technical descriptions, details, requirements, and limitations expressed do not constitute an endorsement, approval, or acceptance of the subject matter by the NAHB Research Center. There are no warranties, either expressed or implied, regarding the accuracy or completeness of this information. Full reproduction, without modification, is permissible.