Charlie: Jonah from Cypress is coming at you. He says, “I’m planning on building a home in a wooded area up in Cypress. I’m going back and forth on whether to use rebar or cable in the foundation.” He says he keeps getting conflicting reports about which is better. He’s also going to bring in some fill, some clean fill to build up the foundation area and wants to know your thoughts on how much it should be built up before pouring the slab.
Tom: Let’s start with the rebar first. Yes, rebar. Don’t with the cables. It’s just a cheap way to go. It’s a production building process and there’s a lot of failure with it. If you design your foundation right with an engineer, with a soil report, all these questions in this particular question here will be answered. As far as that goes, a conventional slab which is steel and rebar number one, I would recommend highly. That’s all I would do.
The other thing is, if you’re just putting fill in just to build it up, and your grade beams or your piers are going down into good soil, then you can use something as simple as bank sand. You’re not using anything structural unless you’re doing a structural fill and that would be required by the engineer. If it’s just filler, bank sand is the most common thing used.
As far as how high you want to build it up, you want to build it up to where the foundation has a good six to eight inches of exposure when everything else is done. That means you have your landscaping in, your bull rock, whatever your case is around the foundation. You want to see six to eight inches of concrete and that will be to your finished floor line. Then you’ll be in good shape.
Now, to set it for drainage, if it’s in a neighborhood, you go about two feet over the crown of the road. That’s easier. What we used to do is just go to the neighbor’s house that didn’t flood in the neighborhood for 20 years, measure theirs and put ours the same place. But if you’re out in the country …
Charlie: Or maybe just a little higher.
Tom: Or a little bit higher, just to prove a point.
Charlie: Be a good neighbor.
Tom: If you’re in the country, then you’re going to have to do some topographical stuff to make sure you’re not in a valley but you’re on top of the mountain. I mean mountain in Texas.