Foundation inspections are an important part of the new home inspection process. That being said, the foundation inspection is usually the one to skip if you have to skip one of the inspections. Why, you ask. Foundations are engineered. That is, a structural engineer designs and specifies the type of reinforcement, the placement of the reinforcement, the site preparation, the thickness of the slab, the depth and spacing of the beams, strength of the concrete, and more. Most engineers will inspect the foundation before the concrete to verify that it conforms to his plans. Some engineers will check the forms for level and check for proper location of the plumbing stub ups. Foundations that do not conform to his plans may fail. If that happens, the engineer may be liable if he can not prove that the foundation was not properly constructed.
Items to check:
- Has all organic material been removed from the foundation footprint?
- Has backfill been compacted to proper density?
- Are the forms in the proper location?
- Are the forms plumb and level?
- Are the beams resting on undisturbed soil?
- Is the moisture barrier properly installed with no tears?
- Is the rebar the proper size and grade?
- Is the rebar properly spaced and supported?
- Are the PT tendons properly spaced, draped, and supported?
- Are the PT tendon sleeves damaged?
- Is there proper clearance between plumbing and the PT tendons?
- Are the PT tendon ends adequately secured to the forms?
- Are the PT tendon ends properly greased and taped?
- Is there adequate clearance between the reinforcement and the forms or beam walls?
One of the problems that home inspectors have is that the the builders will not loan out the plans so that the inspector can study them before arriving onsite. The engineer has full access to these plans. Make sure that your builder has the engineer inspect the foundation before the pour, and make sure that any corrections needed are done. Another set of eyes is usually a good idea. For that, hire a home inspector.
It is also recommended that you have an engineer or qualified home inspector take elevations of the foundation after it is poured to create an as-built foundation elevation plan. This document can prove valuable in the future as it creates historical data that can be referenced in the event of future foundation movement.
Author Larry Wedige (TREC#6060) of LarryInspects Home Inspection Service in San Antonio Texas is licensed by the State of Texas as a Professional Real Estate Inspector and has over 18 years of home inspection experience and over 50 years of home building and remodeling experience. He has taught the home inspection curriculum at San Antonio College and exceeds the required hours of continuing education yearly. Some of the information here may not be applicable to your area. Review this information with your engineer or inspector for further details.