Permanent Wood Foundation (PWF)
Frequently Asked Questions
Click on the FAQ's Below for answers
 
1. What is a Permanent Wood Foundation?
2. How is a Permanent Wood Foundation constructed?
3. Are Permanent Wood Foundations "Energy Wise"?
4. Are Permanent Wood Foundations "Environmentally Friendly"?
5. The plans for my new home indicate a masonry foundation, can I change to a PWF?
6. Are the chemicals used in the treatment process safe?
7. What about mold and mildew in PWF basements?
8. What are the chances of the basement leaking?
9. Can I have a walk-out basement with a PWF?
10. What about finishing the basement?
11. How much does a PWF cost compared to poured concrete?
12. How long does it take to install a PWF?
13. Can I have a woodstove in a PWF basement?
14. How long will a wood foundation last?
15. Can I install a Permanent Wood Foundation myself?
16. Where can I get more information?
 
What is a Permanent Wood Foundation?
The Permanent Wood Foundation, or PWF, is an innovative building system that saves builders time and makes basements warm, comfortable living areas. PWF basements have all the livability of above ground rooms. They incorporate superior drainage features that prevent the moisture problems typical of ordinary masonry foundations.
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How is a Permanent Wood Foundation built?
A PWF is a series of load-bearing lumber framed walls sheathed with plywood.   All lumber and plywood used in the PWF are specially pressure treated with preservatives to withstand decay from moisture and insect attack. Southern Pine lumber (a very strong species of lumber) used in a PWF is pressure treated to a retention level of 0.60 lbs./cu.ft., in accordance with AWPA standards. (This is approximately 50% more preservative than exterior deck materials.)
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Are Permanent Wood Foundations "Energy Efficient"?
Very much so! Basement heat loss from an insulated PWF is about 1/3 of that from a poured concrete basement. A 30'x50' basement, in central Michigan, saves approximately 38,000,000 (thirty eight million) BTU's per heating season.  (That's about $200.00 
in natural gas)
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Are Permanent Wood Foundations "Environmentally Friendly"?
Wood is our most renewable resource, more trees are planted each year than harvested. Additionally, the fossil fuel use, greenhouse gas, water and air pollution resulting from lumber production is 1/3 that of steel manufacturing and ? of concrete.
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The plans for my new home indicate a masonry foundation, can I change to a PWF?
Not a problem! Each PWF is specially designed to suit the building above it.  Prior to the construction of the basement, drawings are provided to suppliment your plans, a copy for the local building department and one for the homeowners records. PWF's are accepted by all building codes.
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Are the chemicals used in the treatment process safe?
PWF materials are treated with naturally occurring metals found in the earth's crust, plants and living organisms, including people. No vapors are released and no leaching occurs. Extensive testing has been done and pressure treated materials have been proven safe for indoor use.
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What about mold and mildew in PWF basements?
The nature of the PWF system allows for fresh air to circulate through the concealed areas of the basement floor lessening the opportunity of bacterial growth. Additionally, the construction details of the PWF and its granular footing keep ground moisture further from the basements interior where it cannot "wick-through" the walls and floor as in a concrete basement.
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What are the chances of the basement leaking?
During construction the plywood joints are sealed full length with butyl caulking, the walls are covered with a vapor barrier prior to being back-filled, partially with P-rock to facilitate drainage and eliminate leaks do to hydraulic pressure caused by soil expansion around the basement. These measures and the in-ability of the PWF walls to crack, as is common in masonry construction, virtually eliminate the possibility of leakage.
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Can I have a walk-out basement with a PWF?
The PWF system is a designers dream. The great strength of the plywood diaphragms comprising the PWF coupled with its light weight, allow walk-outs, garages in or above basements, earth berm and underground projects to be accomplished. Even in areas with less than optimum soil bearing capacities.
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What about finishing the basement?
It's ready! No furring strips or additional framing is necessary, just insulate (if desired), and nail drywall or paneling directly to the studs.
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How much does a PWF cost compared to concrete?
Professionally installed the PWF costs about the same as a poured concrete basement. A prefabricated PWF foundation installed by the homeowner can save about 30%.
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How long does it take to install a PWF?
Prefabricated foundations are usually installed in one day.
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Can I have a woodstove in a PWF basement?
Of course. There are no restrictions of any kind regarding the use of a PWF. Fire insurance companies, lending institutions and home warranty companies approve and accept Permanent Wood Foundations the same as other types of basements.
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How long will a wood foundation last?
The manufacturer of the "Wolman" brand preservative used in the treatment process, warranties materials used in PWF construction against decay or insect damage for 75 years.
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Can I install a Permanent Wood Foundation myself?
Substantial savings can be realized by "do-it-yourselfers" doing their own PWF installation. Quality control, correct fastening techniques and attention to detail are necessary to insure a quality product. The most practical way for a homebuilder to install a PWF is to purchase a prefabricated foundation and do their own installation.
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Where can I get more information?
Click Here for links to Friends and other PWF Professionals