Written by Paul Sharpe
Reposted by Kayla
I have what one might call a classified job. I inspect a lot of other people’s work in secret!
New home builders generally tend to look the same. They have flowery names for their subdivisions such as “Wuthering Heights” and “On the Lagoon” and nonsense like that. Pretty names do not a homebuilder make. Proper construction technique starting with the foundation and the framing do.
So here are a few suggestions if you want to pick out a well-built home. Put on your rubber boots and go snoop around one of their current subdivision lots when they’re cranking out foundations. Have a look at what type of foundation forms they are using to pour the foundations. Are they using a really good quality form boards or beat up old 2 x 4 and plywood frames. Of course, this is not a definitive example of what would engender good work but it is somewhat of a clue. It’s difficult to do a really good job with lousy materials.
The next thing I would do is have a good look at a finished foundation before it’s backfilled. Have a look for large cracks. Look up with one eye down the top edges of the foundation and have a look at how straight they are along the horizontal top. Look for large dips in the top surface as this will lead to a lot of compression in the framing substrate later on. The foundation that isn’t straight will inevitably lead to sagging over time in the walls and some floors leaving cracks and nail pops.
We’ve heard the term” foundational principles” and the other colloquial type expressions based on the term foundation for a good reason. Foundations are everything. Whatever we place upon them is affected by them and in terms of housing, much of what occurs in the building of a foundation gets hidden after backfill and framing. It gets hidden in its entirety if you happen to have a finished basement. At this point, it becomes impossible to judge whether or not I house has a good foundation. So as I have suggested you will need to get out to the job site at the time they are actually pouring foundations.
Sure this may seem a bit extreme but that’s a lot of money you’re spending especially nowadays. Another aspect of foundations that is critical to examine is the fact that they are so difficult to fix once they are poured in hardened. What usually ends up happening when a foundation is uneven is the framing crews well pound small wooden shims in the low spots to prop up these areas. This is not a proper substitute for a straight foundation. It’s better than nothing, of course, but it’s a pale substitute.
Generally most of the aspects of the foundation that building inspectors will look at revolve around drainage. So in this regard they are all pretty much equal give-and-take. You can’t really count on building inspectors to judge straightness. Believe it or not they really don’t care and in fact, it’s not in the code. The foundation would have to be pretty out of whack for a building inspector to raise an eyebrow. In all my years I’ve never seen it and I doubt I ever will.
I know it’s a bit unorthodox but it’s damn good advice to get out to her subdivision in its early stages and check out some foundations. Like I said the foundation is everything.
Check this list of builders I have worked with at this Facebook Page.