Home Foundation Quality Check
How to Build a Home, Step 26
What are the important items to consider in your new home foundation quality check? To say that your foundation is a major element in your new dream home is an understatement. Not only does it support the entire structure and its contents, but it also is responsible for keeping water out of your basement. Here we will share with you some professional builder tips for ensuring a trouble free foundation is installed on your new project.
When to Check?
The absolute best time to check any work performed on your new home is right after the activity is completed. The reason….as time goes by, more work is completed on top of the existing work. This increases the cost of repair. So let’s say that your foundation is slightly off and a wall needs to be re-built. If the problem isn’t caught right away, it might get waterproofed and even worse, backfilled. This increases the management time for the repair, because now you need two to three trades instead of just one. The cost of the repair will also go up because you have multiple activities to fix instead of one. So be sure to perform the new home foundation quality check immediately after the forms are stripped from the walls if you are using poured concrete (or just after the block has been set for block walls).
New Home Foundation Quality Checklist
Whether you are building your own home or having a general contractor manage it for you, it’s a good idea to get a second set of eyes on the foundation quality. Here is a list of the major items to include in your home foundation quality checklist.
Level Foundation – The top of the foundation should be level. In the Armchair Builder Scopes of Work and Specifications, we require the top of the foundation to be level within 1/8 inch. You don’t want your rough carpenter to be required to shim up the base plate of the home. This is no good for many reasons…one being the gap that is created between the foundation and the sill plate…leading to air leaks and an entry point for insects. How can you check for a level foundation? A laser level or transit is the best method. Most home improvement stores have these for rent if you don’t already have one.
Check Dimensions – The foundation walls should match the house plan. Period. The reason you don’t want any deviations in dimensions is because most of your materials are pre-ordered. For example, if you have already ordered your roof trusses (which you should have done at this point), the dimensions will match the house plan. This will create expensive problems and possible delays in your new home schedule because the trusses will need to be adjusted or replaced.
Wall Thickness – Your house plan will dictate the thickness of the foundation wall. It’s quite common to have an eight inch basement wall in one location and a ten inch wall in other…all in the same home. Make sure the thicknesses of all walls are per plan.
Anchor Bolt Spacing – Anchor bolts or straps are used to secure the house to the foundation. These fasteners are typically embedded down into the poured concrete foundation (or block mortar). Your new home foundation quality check should review this spacing with the plan to make certain the house will be secured properly. This can help prevent problems during high winds or earthquakes. Include a note in your foundation scopes of work and specifications that all anchor bolts will meet or exceed code requirements.
Wall Ties - Poured foundation wall forms are typically held together with ties that run through the concrete wall. These ties prevent the forms from spreading apart as the heavy concrete is poured between them. In order to properly waterproof the outside of the foundation, the form ties need to be removed. This should be the responsibility of the foundation contractor (so include this in your scopes of work for foundation).
Honeycombing – Your foundation contractor will attempt to consolidate the concrete between the forms so the wall is one solid mass. Sometimes, if proper care isn’t taken, the wall will have voids that show up. We call these voids honeycombing. Honeycombing should be kept to a minimum as it can decrease the strength of a wall. Any spots noted should repaired by your foundation contractor at no cost to you.
Beam Pockets – Most home plans use steel or wood beams along the center of the basement to support the home. The ends of these beams typically rest on the foundation. Beam pockets are used to allow the beams to rest on the wall while supporting the floor joists. The beam pockets need to be checked to make sure the beam width and height will fit within the space.
Brick ledge – If your new home was designed to have brick, your new foundation will need a brick ledge for support. It’s important to check the foundation with the house plan to make certain the brick ledge is in the correct locations.
Centered on Footing – We talked about this in our last article, Home Foundation Preparation. Make sure the foundation wall is centered on the footing. This will allow the footing to do what it’s supposed to do…spread the weight of the home out along the ground below. A foundation wall that is not centered will lead to an unbalanced loading condition and possible structural problems.
Other Items to Review
Those are the major items for your new home foundation quality check. However, there are a few other items that professional builders review after the foundation has been poured. Check to make sure the curbs, manholes, sewer cleanouts….etc. have not been damaged. Concrete trucks are extremely heavy and it’s possible that damage can occur when they are maneuvering around the foundation. If a concrete truck caused damage, it’s the responsibility of your foundation contractor. So be sure to check for damage immediately after the pour.
You will also want to check the streets for mud or debris. You don’t want to make a mess of the street as this will annoy neighbors and more importantly, could cause accidents. Your poured concrete foundation contractor is responsible for cleaning up any mess left on the street after each pour. Make sure your scopes of work and specifications include this note for all of your contractors. If you need a copy or if you’d like to see some of the great resources we have to help you build your home, stop by our ESTORE. Be sure to watch our newly published video below describing the home foundation quality check in detail.