MDI Building Science 101: Water Management

One of the hardest problems to fix is below ground water intrusion. This is a major aspect of building long lasting structures which consists of a two-part system to effectively control moisture movement.

Step 1: Moisture Management around the exterior of the foundation
Starting from bottom up:
• We install perforated pipe at the bottom of the foundation so that water can infiltrate into the pipe before it gets to the most susceptible area of the foundation, the “cold joint”, which is where the footer meets the frost wall.
• The pipe is placed on a slope to give water a path of least resistance away from the building.
• Filter fabric prevents the pipe from getting filled with fine particle sediment over time.
• Then the surrounding area is back filled with drain rock (to the orange line on the wall) to provide air space between the drain rock which allows ground water to move freely away from the foundation.

This process helps to reduce the amount of ground water that can surround the building. And in turn this helps to reduce hydrostatic pressure on the foundation that would otherwise be produced by water logged tightly packed fine sediment soils.

Foundation Water Proofing: drain rock wrapped with filter fabric. Orange line – shows where we back fill the drain rock to reduce hydrostatic pressure.

Step 2: Foundation Water Proofing
• This consists of a hot applied elastometric asphalt emulsion applied to the foundation walls. This product has “2000% stretch capacity” per the manufacturer’s specs.
• Next, the foundation is deliberately hit with a flood coat on top of the footer, so the heaviest and thickest portion of waterproofing is over the cold seam.

Managing groundwater on the landscaping level before it surrounds the home is the next tier to this process on the exterior. And installing drain pipe inside the foundation is a different part of the system on the interior, but the steps above are the basics to managing moisture directly around the exterior of the home.

This process is all too often underdone. We believe that overlapping and slightly redundant systems together make up the best building practice for water management, above and below the ground. We follow the same school of thought with our interior water management systems.

Example of hot applied elastametric asphalt emolsion

New Construction on Winter Lane

Photos below showcases our new construction on Big Mountain. This project kicked off by carving into the hillside to make way for this project. Over 185 loads of rock and rumble were exported with the help from our CAT 320 Excavator and the ever so handy jack hammer.

Heaps and heaps later we made the room for this two car garage with apartment above. But that is not all! This home features a “Sprinter Garage” to perfectly fit our clients Sprinter camper-van. The challenge will be deciding if they will ski in their backyard all day or prep the camper-van for its next adventure from the comfort of a warm garage.

Check back with us to see more of the finished product! Construction of main home scheduled for Spring 2017..!

MDI’s latest testimonial

After interviewing several builders, we chose Mindful Designs to build our custom, high-end dream home— and we could not be more pleased!  The style of home we wanted to build was definitely “outside the box”, with clean, contemporary lines, lots of architectural detail, unique finishes, and seamless integration of the indoor and outdoor living spaces.  From the beginning, we were impressed with Marty’s enthusiasm and  his desire to understand and deliver on our vision.  He quickly grasped the aesthetic we were seeking, and he collaborated with us and offered great suggestions to make sure that our desired result was achieved.

We were living out of state during much of the building process, but Marty was always accessible, promptly returning phone calls and keeping us regularly informed.  Early on, Mindful Designs produced a very detailed budget, and their online budgeting and billing tools, together with prompt processing of change orders, allowed us to keep track of costs and make informed decisions from afar.  The final cost of our home (excluding change orders for upgrades and additions that we elected to make) was less than 1% over the original budget, which is quite remarkable for a high-end, 15-month project!

On a personal level, Marty was also a great guy to work with.  His “can do” attitude, passion for his work and high energy level are infectious, and he fosters a wonderful team atmosphere on the job site.  We were very impressed with all of the subcontractors we met.  They were professional, courteous and caring.

Being from Texas, we did not realize how much goes into building a home in the mountains.  In this regard, we greatly appreciated Marty’s experienced guidance, his remarkable knowledge of all facets of home construction, and his strong commitment to building us a tight, energy-efficient home that can withstand the elements and that we will enjoy for many years to come.

In short, we cannot recommend Mindful Designs more highly.  If you are looking for a builder that is truly committed to building a quality home, that delivers on time and on budget, and that is a pleasure to work with, you need look no further than Mindful Designs.

What is going ‘up’ around Mindful Designs

We are reaching for the sky.  Well, more like the top of the trees.  This beautiful condo is under construction just a couple doors from our office downtown.  These condos are going to have an amazing view, just look at it from the view of the construction crews or the view from across the river.  There is still one unit for sale.  We know it is tempting, give us a call.


New Construction and Happy Clients

This MDI design and build has an exterior that shows modern lines clad with local and enduring materials.  The landscape is scheduled for next month, however you can currently see beds of Arnica, Oregon Grape, and Native Pine Grass are coming back up in front of the home.  Even after a few months of living in this home, the homeowner tells us that the lines of the home still make them smile every time they come home.
This home has custom steel counter-tops to compliment the steel/timber stairs and rails.  The home also has custom ‘in house designed and fabricated’ interior lights – over dining table, and steel pipe ceiling mounted in living room and
The above code energy package with air seal techniques and full spray foam attic assembly make this home comfortable and energy efficient for the home owner year round.  In fact, the home owner recently told us that since they moved in a few months ago, that they like it so much they don’t feel like going out to dinner and drinks as much – just want to hang at home, and their guest have been giving them tons of compliments.  We are so happy they are as please with the outcome of their home as we are.

Energy Efficiency starts from within

1″ exterior eps (vapor permeable) continuous insulation beginning to be installed
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FOUNDATION: we used 6″ core Insulated Concrete Forms (LOGIX brand) for the foundation.  The sub slab insulation was state-of-the-art 2lb spray foam — we are able to fully seal all plumbing, electrical conduit and other penetrations with this form of sub slab insulation.  This is one of the most important aspects of creating an energy efficient heated slab: allow the slab to heat the home with every calorie possible, and not the earth beneath it.  Also, this form of sub slab insulation provides a complete and continuous radon and vapor barrier,
WALL ASSEMBLY:  This home demonstrates a vapor-permeable wall assembly – meaning that the wall is designed to allow water vapor to pass through all of its assemblies.  We are trying to achieve the tightest assembly possible, while using a system of materials that encourage vapor transmission — air tight, ventilated right and walls that can breathe.   First off,  the house was sheeted with plywood instead of osb because plywood has a greater perm rating (allows water vapor to pass through it to a greater degree) than osb.  We used SIGA sheeting tape to air seal the plywood seams.  Our primary insulation on the walls is wet-blown cellulose, which of course is breathable and also provides an insulation material that completely fills whatever shape each bay provides.  IN certain areas, like behind the fireplace for example, where it would have been difficult to execute the job properly with cellulose, we apply a combination of 2lb and 4 lb spray foam.  Window and exterior door perimeters and all exterior wall penetrations are spray foamed to seal them properly.  Electrical outlet boxes on exterior walls will be caulked as necessary to seal them up.  On the interior side of our exterior walls we have applied Certainteed’s MemBrain, which provides a continuous air barrier on the interior plane of the wall assembly, while allowing water vapor to pass through it.  Actually, this incredible material’s permeability changes with the seasons, keeping the moisture out in the winter months, while allowing the wall assembly to dry out during the warmer months.  On the outside of the building, we applied tyvek house wrap, taped the seams and we will soon be applying a 1″ layer of continuous insulation (C.I.)  This C.I. will be, of course, vapor permeable, allowing water vapor to be drawn through the wall toward the exterior.  To further encourage the drawing of moisture outward, we will be creating a “rainscreen” — a 3/4″ to1.5″ air gap between the siding and the C.I. that will allow air to travel vertically in the space between the siding and C.I. — air will be introduced low in the siding and exhausted high, utilizing a thermal-siphon effect.
ATTICS and CEILINGS: For some of the roof assembles in this home, it was not practical or possible to properly vent them.  For these areas, we used a hybrid 2lb and 4lb spray foam application to air seal and insulate — these dead spaces will be thereby conditioned.  For the other attics, we extensively air sealed the weakest links in our assembly with spray foam: drywall seams, wall to ceiling connections, ceiling penetrations (light cans — all LED of course; smoke detectors, light recepticles etc), truss heal to plate connections — this is the number one source of leaky assemblies, gable end wall plate edges.  On top of the air sealed drywall, we have blown in an R-60 of cellulose and in each of the attic accesses (this house has 4) we built special spray foam lids that will provide an excellent air and thermal break at each of these notorious weaknesses.

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All in all, this home is sure to perform at a very high level.  The HRV will handle energy efficient, calculated and filtered air exchanges for the entire home — we will be targeting a ACH of .3 or, simply put, all of the air inside this home will be exchanged completely approximately every 3 hours and 20 minutes.
WINDOWS and EXTERIOR DOORS: we are using Glo European’s A5 product.  They are truly amazing! Triple-paned windows with thermally broken frames and sashes.  It was below 20 degrees outside, we were at around 65 degrees in the home and when i put my hand on the largest pane of glass in the house, which also happens to be north-facing, it actually felt warm to the touch.  Any budget that can allow for these windows should absolutely incorporate them.