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Permanent Wood Foundations

The Permanent Wood Foundation System

If you're building or buying a home, consider the contemporary basement alternative - a Permanent Wood Foundation, or PWF.
Just what exactly is a Permanent Wood Foundation? It's a load-bearing lumber framed foundation wall sheathed with plywood. All lumber and plywood components are pressure-treated to withstand decay from moisture and termites.
Southern Pine dimension lumber is the strongest structural species, the ideal material for PWF construction. Southern Pine is also the preferred species when pressure treatment with preservatives is required, because of its treatability. The unique cellular structure of Southern Pine permits deep, uniform penetration of the preservative, rendering the wood useless as a food source for termites.
A Proven, Practical System
Durability of the PWF system, is demonstrated by long-term in-ground tests conducted by the USDA's Forest Service. In these tests, pressure-treated wood has withstood severe decay and termite conditions over decades of exposure. PWF walls are designed to resist and distribute earth, wind, seismic loads and stresses that may crack other types of foundations.
The Permanent Wood Foundation is accepted by the major model building codes, by federal agencies, and by lending, home warranty, and fire insurance institutions. And it has been proven by years of success in more the 300,000 homes and other structures throughout the U.S.
Like conventional wood-frame walls, the wood foundation is adaptable to virtually any design. The PWF fits a variety of floor plans and can be used in both level and sloping sites.


All lumber and plywood is pressure treated with a waterborne preservative to withstand severe decay conditions. Specific treating industry standards and quality-control procedures for PWF materials are established. Southern Pine is the preferred wood species for this pressure treatment process.


PWF wall panels can be prefabricated, or built at the site. Installation is fast and simple, using the same framing crew that builds the rest of the house.


A completed PWF basement, ready for first-floor framing. Basement wall framing easily accepts insulation to meet the new energy codes now enforced in many states.


A treated wood floor is the ideal partner for the PWF, enhancing the comfort of below-ground living areas.


Virtually any home design can benefit from the many advantages of a PWF. Room additions are simplified, too.

PWF Advantages
Builders and home buyers across the country are choosing the Permanent Wood Foundation, and for many good reasons. Just a few of the features that are making PWF's increasingly popular include:
1. Design Flexibility
PWF's can be used in a variety of building types and sizes, including both single and multi-story houses, condominiums and apartments, and for both site-built and manufactured houses. PWF's are suitable for crawl space, split-entry or full-basement designs. Remodeling contractors have also found the PWF ideal for room additions, especially where site access is limited.
2. Faster Construction
The PWF is easily installed by a carpentry crew, often in one day, or even in just a few hours. As soon as the foundation is framed and sheathed, construction of floors and interior walls can proceed. Shorter construction time can mean savings in labor and interim construction financing.
3. Simplified Scheduling
The builder's or subcontractor's carpentry crew install the PWF, reducing the need for scheduling other trades. The PWF can be installed in nearly any kind of weather, even below freezing.
4. Comfortable Living Areas
Let's consider comfort. PWF basements have all the livability of above-ground rooms. Wood construction lends feeling of warmth - not the musty, damp feeling usually associated with masonry basements. And, PWF's incorporate superior drainage features that prevent the moisture problems typical of ordinary foundations. The result: warm, dry below-grade living spaces.
5.  Energy Efficiency
The National Energy Policy Act mandates that the basement of a new home must be properly insulated. The economical answer to meeting state energy code requirements begins with a Permanent Wood Foundation.
6. Ease of Finishing
Since nailable studs are already in place, plumbing, wiring and interior wall installation are simplified. Because it's so easy, many PWF homebuyers elect to do the finishing themselves according to their own tastes, and often at less cost.
7. More Living Space
A PWF can also mean added living space - wood foundation walls need not be as thick as comparable concrete or masonry walls. Less space needed for insulation, too, because it fits into the cavities of the wood-framed wall - extra furring strips or wall studs are not necessary.

The Permanent Wood Foundation is accepted by the following major regulatory bodies and underwriting agencies, as well as by a growing number of states and local building codes and lending agencies.
Model Building Codes
  • National Building Code. 1996 edition. Building Officials and Code Administrators International, Inc. (BOCA)
  • Uniform Building Code. 1997 edition. International Conference of Building Officials (ICBO)
  • Standard Building Code. 1994 and 1997 editions. Southern Building Code Congress International Inc. (SBCCI)
  • One and Two-Family Dwelling Code. 1995 edition. Council of American Building Officials (CABO)

Federal Agencies

  • Farmers Home Administration (FmHA)
  • Veterans Administration (VA)
  • Department of Housing and Urban Development - Federal Housing Administration (HUD/FHA)

Lending & Mortgage Insurance Institutions

  • Mortgage Guaranty Insurance Corporation (MGIC)
  • Government National Mortgage Association (GNMA)
  • Federal Home Loan Mortgage Corporation (FHLMC)
  • Federal National Mortgage  Association (FNMA)
  • United States League of Savings Associations
  • Verex Assurance, Inc.

Warranty & Fire Insurance Institutions

  • Home Owners Warranty Corporation (HOW)
  • Insurance Services Office (ISO)





Southern Forest Products Association
P.O. Box 641700
Kenner, La 70064-1700
504/443-4464  -  504/443-6612
Southeastern Lumber Manufacturers Association
P.O. Box 1788
Forest Park, Ga 30298
404/361-1445  -  Fax 404/361-5963