Minimizing Concrete in a Slab-on-Grade Home
Whether your goal is to cut construction costs, minimize environmental impact, or both, there are practical ways to build a home with less concrete.
Synopsis: Builder Mike Maines describes the construction of a code-compliant slab foundation that uses a very minimal amount of concrete. The concrete is limited to the footings and stem walls, and the result is achieved with insulated concrete forms in a frost-protected shallow-foundation approach.
For the last ten years, most of my work has been designing renovations and new homes, and now I am building again as well. But I also sometimes help clients fine-tune the details on homes designed by others.
In early 2017, I was hired to consult on details for a small, high-performance home. Nick, the owner, and his mother, for whom he was building the house, care deeply about our environment and wanted to minimize both embodied carbon and operating carbon, which are similar to embodied energy and operating energy, through the lens of global-warming emissions.
Although exposed, sealed concrete slabs are popular…