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Community and Q&A

Concrete-free foundations

jollygreenshortguy | Posted in Green Building Techniques on

I just came back from a trip to Denmark, where I visited the Frilandsmuseet, an outdoor “museum” collection of traditional buildings from all over Denmark and Sweden.

Here is a photo of a “concrete-free” foundation which I thought you all might enjoy. I wonder how much embodied carbon there is in a structure like this, compared to how much protection it offers from the elements. Granted, it’s not as much protection as a home built to Passivhaus standards. But considering the means available to people at that time I’ll bet it’s very efficient, as far as it goes. I’m sure none of the materials came from more than a few miles of the construction site. The one fault was that trees were not replanted to replace those taken from the primeval forests.

Have a great weekend!


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  1. Expert Member
    Michael Maines | | #1

    Haha, that is a very low-carbon assembly! My house was built in 1830, in Maine, on rubble quarried on site. (I live on top of a hill of solid shist, gneiss and quartz.) I do get nervous in strong windstorms, since the only thing holding the house to the foundation is gravity, but it's been ok for 193 years.

  2. jollygreenshortguy | | #2

    193 years? I expect it will be around for a while longer. One thing you can say about gravity is that it's reliable.

  3. Expert Member
    BILL WICHERS | | #3

    That looks like a rock solid foundation there :-D

    Michael: If you have any real concern about wind, you could potentially drill in some anchors to the stone, then secure your home to those anchors. Epoxy anchors would probably work best here, since expanding anchors will sometimes fracture natural stone when the bolt causes the anchor to expand. This would be similar in concept to driving piles, but since the stone "ground" here isn't going to go anywhere, you can drill small 3/4" or so holes and epoxy in 1/2" anchor rods and do just fine.

    I do think that 193 year history would seem to indicate that your existing arrangement seems to hold up pretty well though -- you're sure to have had at least a few very bad storms over that time period!


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