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Defects unique to Permanent Wood Foundations


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Permanent Wood Foundations (PWF) have been around for about 30 years.

I have often heard inspectors say that they are only good for about 30 years if they are done correctly.

The Southern Pine Council's guide though calls them permanent and gives no other longevity expectation. They do recommend coating exposed wood surfaces with pentrating sealers or stains.

The thing is nothing is made perfectly all the time, installed correctly all the time or maintained regularly.

I'd like to know if there is a guide to defects unique to PWFs.

What kinds of defects are you folks seeing?

Does anybody ever see decay or termite (WDI) infestation in bonifide PWFs?

Does anyone pull a little soil away to expose surfaces just below grade?

Let's get a thread going on this.

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Permanent wood foundation have been around for hundreds of years. We have a PWF guide put out by the Southern Pine Council in TIJ's library at:

https://www.inspectorsjournal.com/forum ... ref400.pdf

and there's a Permanent Wood Foundation website here:


If you go to the FM 5-426 - the army Carpentry Guide that's in that same library - you'll also find a section in there on PWF's. That date on the guide says that it was published in 1995 but that's not true - it was actually written decades before and then updated many times. The date only reflects the most recent update.

I agree, it's an excellent topic to discuss. There's a previous attempt at that here that didn't get much response:

https://www.inspectorsjournal.com/forum ... hTerms=PWF

I'm not sure where it is, but somewhere on here in a post I made many years ago is a PWF Inspection Checklist that I found on the net somewhere. I know it's here, I just can't remember where I put it.



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Around our area we find most pwfs are done as a cost savings activity. That is not necessarily true in fact. Many are done by folks that lack building skill or knowledge. This makes them a tough job for inspectors because most important components are hidden from visual observation and those hidden defects often do not manifest in ways typically found in other foundations.

For example: We have seen many pwf basements where the visquene is exposed above grade and deteriorated leaving a perfect point of entry for moisture between visquene and treated plywood wall below grade. Or they are parged below grade for a couple of inches.

Everything Mike O said above is true to the best of my knowledge. There are lots of variations on wood foundations from sleeper logs to post to "treated" wall etc.

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