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Old 05-05-2008, 07:26 PM
 
Location: Apex, NC
78 posts, read 190,042 times
Reputation: 53
Default What the frick is a stem wall?

I am getting a house built and it is taking longer than the builder originally promised (Big suprise I know!). One of the reasons that they have given me is that they have to build a stem wall as a part of the foundation. Now the builder gave me a reason for it that I have no idea what he meant, so I refer to the forum for advise.

What is the benefits of building a stem wall? Does it make sense that it would add time on the completion of the home? Is there a red flag that I am unaware of if the builder must build a stem wall as a part of the construction?

One thing that I think I understood is that a part of the house is on a slight dip which could be a contributing factor. Sorry if I sound ignorant, but I have no experience with construction or foundations. Be gentle!
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Old 05-05-2008, 09:56 PM
 
Location: Sandpoint, ID
2,669 posts, read 5,428,661 times
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With crawlspace foundation, you either have pilings to wood foundation, or stemwall (concrete walls) with beams upon which the house is built. Our house has 4' stemwalls so that the crawlspace has plenty of room to work in there for the subcontractors without having to crawl on their back.

So it's just a construction term that explains the type of foundation....nothing more.
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Old 05-06-2008, 09:42 AM
 
Location: Johns Creek, GA
6,321 posts, read 18,881,290 times
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Generally speaking, when someone says stem wall and they are referring to residential construction, they are referring to a retaining-type wall that usually comes off the corner of the foundation. It's a way to step down the grade around the house- especially if your house has a basement.
But as far as that being a major delay in construction- Horse Feathers! That should have been known from the moment the house was picked to go on the lot. Sounds to me that it is an excuse for their delay. Or somebody boo-booed somewhere.
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Old 05-06-2008, 10:38 AM
 
3,021 posts, read 15,680,574 times
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Default What is in a name......

Could be like K'ledgeBldr sezs some type of retaining wall but if you hear the term stem wall think of an anchor. Peeps use the term different ways but normally it means a wall that is underground.

In areas of bad weather, like along the coast, where you get hurricanes, etc, they use stem walls to tie the slab to the earth. The footings are deeper than normal, they then build a perimeter wall out of usually cinder block about couple courses high and it is designed to tie the house slab to the Earth so it can't float out of position or allow heavy storm water to get directly under it. In this type application there is no basement, slab in directly on the ground.

Why the contractor would be making a big fuss, I dunno know. Maybe added another day or so to the schedule. Might be a code requirement in certain areas. Just another way to trying to prevent your house flying off to the Moon. Charge extra, wave your hands, claim nobody understands you or just how complicated your job is. Throw big four letter words like STEM around. All part of the game of a highly skilled professional. Best if you keep it mysterious.
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Old 05-06-2008, 12:30 PM
 
Location: Londonderry, NH
32,909 posts, read 26,401,403 times
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Stem walls connect the footings to the edges of the slab or are the walls around the crawl space. Around here the footings have to be deep enough that the earth is removed and basements are built instead.
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Old 05-07-2008, 12:10 PM
 
Location: Johns Creek, GA
6,321 posts, read 18,881,290 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Cosmic View Post
Could be like K'ledgeBldr sezs some type of retaining wall but if you hear the term stem wall think of an anchor. Peeps use the term different ways but normally it means a wall that is underground.
See, different words for different parts of the country-
a wall "underground" here is refered to as a "sub-wall".
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Old 05-07-2008, 10:50 PM
 
Location: Northglenn, Colorado
3,689 posts, read 6,535,984 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by K'ledgeBldr View Post
See, different words for different parts of the country-
a wall "underground" here is refered to as a "sub-wall".
and some parts of the country never have to use these types of walls lol. I have never once, used a "stem" wall here in good ole DRY colorado lol
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Old 05-08-2008, 06:06 AM
 
Location: Saylorsburg
9,228 posts, read 7,487,120 times
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Stem Walls are common in areas in danger of severe weather, such as coastal. Also lots with very poor soil conditions. I agree that it is an excuse given for taking longer, and that it should have been put on the table from the very beginning.

Site Clearing, Footings and Stem-Wall Foundation Video, Building with Steel Shipping Containers, Strong, Affordable Storm-Ready Housing, Bob Vila, Bob on TV, BobVila.com just a video fyi
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Old 05-08-2008, 12:03 PM
 
Location: Huntington, NY
652 posts, read 1,448,439 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by K'ledgeBldr View Post
See, different words for different parts of the country-
a wall "underground" here is refered to as a "sub-wall".
A sub-wall? I never heard that expression in all my 32 years in the biz...lol.
When I hear someone refer to the "foundation" wall as a stem wall I usually figure it's because they're extending the concrete higher than normal for one reason or another due to whatever...maybe grade is high on one side for example....or the entire first floor is to be concrete rather than wood framed.
Botttom line is...just look at the plans.
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Old 05-10-2008, 07:14 PM
 
Location: Knoxville
3,225 posts, read 9,667,683 times
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This is something that should have come up at the early stages of construction. Where are they in the process?

If the foundation is done, and the house is framed, they are probably not being straight with you.
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