When Greystone Homes started building homes, a primary motivator was a desire to incorporate modern building science along with extreme energy efficiency. Pre-cast concrete foundation walls were an early discovery and were immediately incorporated as a standard for us without hesitation. Modern building science is built right in with higher strength values (5000psi concrete versus 3500psi concrete for poured-in place concrete walls), damp-proofing water resistance chemicals in the concrete mix, and insulation incorporated into the walls themselves. Higher strength means minimizing basement wall cracks and failures. Damp-proofing ensures that no ugly tar spray is needed on the outside of the foundation walls. To produce a high insulated or high “R-value” to keep out the Michigan winter, Dupont® rigid foam is utilized on the inside of the basement walls. In truth, this is where our “nerd factor” shows as we use cutting-edge building science to insulate and seal our homes.
In our desire to beat and surpass Energy Star® home performance standards for insulating and sealing our homes, we discovered Great Lakes Superior Walls (GLSW). The alternatives for insulating either a block or poured-wall foundation from the cold climate are not good. The current approach many builders use is to install blue, pink or green rigid closed cell foam on the exterior of the foundation after that foundation has been damp-proofed with a coating such as tar, but before backfilling. The issue is what do you do with the foam on the outside wall remaining exposed above the soil line? First, insulation does not perform to its potential when it’s wet and exterior insulation in contact with the ground will be wet! Second, you probably want to cover that unsightly foam with a coating or plastic to hide it. Coatings and plastic sheeting products are available for this, but they only look okay temporarily. Once the sun causes the plastic to look like Lake Michigan on a windy day or until dad accidentally chips off the coating/plastic with the mower or weed trimmer, the cover is gone. GLSW have none of these issues. We do pay more for them, but in addition to being insulated and sealed, they also have metal interior studs ready to receive even more insulation and drywall if you choose to finish your basement. If you would like a tour or to learn more about energy-saving features utilized in our homes, contact us today.