Precast concrete foundation walls are panels that are cast and cured in a controlled factory environment, which helps ensure panel quality and uniformity. Panels can be installed in a fraction of the time that poured concrete foundations and traditional exterior walls would take. When panels are delivered to the site, they are often erected in three or four hours. Because the concrete is cured in the factory, foundations can be backfilled as soon as the slab and first-floor are braced. The factory fabrication process reduces or eliminates weather delays. Panels are cast as solid reinforced precast concrete (flat panels), or as reinforced concrete ribbed panels with a thin exterior shell. Some manufacturers cast the concrete against foam insulation as a form, which provides additional insulation (higher R-value) for the structure. Concrete panels can be designed with a strength of 5,000 psi. This results in panels that are stronger than concrete block or most poured concrete walls, but are thinner and lighter weight. Walls may be customized during the order process to allow for door and window openings, steel beam pockets, and brick ledges. Although precast concrete panels can be installed rapidly, installers who are not familiar with prefabricated panel assembly will need additional training. In fact, some manufacturers only allow certified installers to deliver and erect their systems.
Manufacturing of structural components off site provides a factory-controlled environment. Prefabricated panels are not exposed to weather conditions during fabrication, and are delivered to the job site ready to be assembled.
PSI (pounds per square inch)
Concrete Hollow Blocks (CHB) usually have a design strength of 500-600psi (not load bearing). Poured concrete walls design strength ranges 2400-3500psi whereas precast concrete foundation panels can have design strength of 5,000 psi.
BENEFITS (+) / DRAWBACKS (-)
+ AFFORDABILITY: Reduced labor costs due to quicker/easier assembly; in some cases no mason is required
+ QUALITY/DURABILITY: Tornado/hurricane damage resistance; fire, termite, and dry-rot resistance
+ ENERGY EFFICIENCY: Requires less insulation
+ MARKETABILITY: Low maintenance and improved sound-proofing
+ SCHEDULING: Panels cure in the factory, and can be erected in cold temperatures, preventing concrete pour delays
– AFFORDABILITY: Higher up-front cost; requires on-site crane; may require certified installer