Raised Home = Dry Home

As someone who has worked on almost every HGTV Dream Home project and who is familiar with the products and techniques used on each one, HGTV Dream Home planner Jack Thomasson saw something unfamiliar on the Sonoma, Calif., jobsite. The foundation of the house looked a little different, so he turned to builder Bruce Lee for an explanation.
Lee’s approach to building the foundation included two options, he explains. "There are two ways of doing this — either a slab foundation or a raised foundation. And this is a raised foundation on a typical T-footing. The way we do things here [in Sonoma] is based on the soils for this area. It’s the type of foundation we’re going to use," he says.

A raised foundation produces more space potentially for mechanical systems such as HVAC and plumbing. "All the underfloor waste and plumbing [parts] are underneath this house. So if you needed access to that, you could do that." Lee also raised this house off the foundation higher than required to provide more clearance "We’ve gone beyond the minimum so you have a better working area. The furnace [is also] underneath the house, so if they needed access, that’s very accessible."

The raised foundation of the 2009 HGTV Dream Home isn’t just for clearance purposes; it’s also for aesthetics. "It helps create the Victorian look that we're trying to get with the older houses that are raised out of the ground with a porch. And that's what we have here – a porch on the front of this house and also on the back."

After the foundation was complete, ratproofing was installed. No, Sonoma doesn’t have a problem with rats; ratproofing is, however, a term used to describe a construction technique derived from efforts to protect against actual rats, Lee notes. "But the way we use it here is for moisture. What we do is we put two inches of sand, and on top of that, two inches of concrete. And that keeps the moisture content down and actually it gives you a clean surface to work on when you crawl underneath your house. You have a clean surface to walk on instead of crawling around in the dirt."

Having a nice clean space under a home in which to work is a nice benefit of ratproofing, but is secondary to more important benefits, including the prevention of mold growth, Lee adds. The concrete ratproofing eliminates moisture coming up through the house, which could get into insulation and create mold, he says.