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The Problems With Building Your NEW HOME On Concrete Footings

Many home owners in Manitoba naturally accept the fact their basement walls will eventually crack and let moisture in. Heavy clay soils surrounding Winnipeg probably warrant some of this reputation. Having said that, home owners who have homes built on soil with less clay and more sand have the same issues. Ask any builder and they will tell you it’s because they are building their home on concrete footings. See below for an explanation of the problems associated in resting the foundation of your home on concrete footings.

Concrete footings are designed to support a cement foundation wall structure for a home or building. They are poured continuously and are usually 75 cm wide and 25 cm thick.

Photo 2017-07-17, 10 05 47 AM

In Manitoba, outside of the city of Winnipeg, concrete footings are the traditional choice of home builders installing poured-in-place and ICF concrete wall structures.

Inside the city of Winnipeg, mainly due to the high expansive clay in the soil, builders will often choose to support foundation walls systems with concrete piles; although there are areas within the city where concrete footings seem to work, such as portions of new St. Vital. Clay has a high moisture absorbing capacity and can swell in wet seasons and contract in dry spells or seasons. Concrete footings are usually the choice for builders in areas where the ground has a higher sand content giving it a much naturally higher weight bearing ratio than wet clay.

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Problems with concrete footings start with the simple fact the concrete is poured straight on the ground:

  • It is difficult to make the footings level.
  • Any tree roots or plant material covered by poured concrete can rot and make the footings uneven.
  • Because the footing is poured directly on the soil, load transfer of the heavy concrete foundation walls is directed to the soil directly beneath the footing, making the weight bearing capacity of the soil a critical component for ensuring a solid foundation without the potential for a lot of settlement cracks occurring. Hence the reason most builders don’t recommend concrete footings for new homes built on heavy clay soils.
  • Concrete footings are porous and will absorb extra moisture after a heavy rain. This water pools beneath the footings and cause erosion of the soil beneath, sometimes causing severe instability in your foundation. For this reason alone, it is wise to consider an alternative to the concrete footing for supporting your heavy concrete foundation wall structures.

Manitoba home owners naturally accept the fact their basement walls will eventually crack and let moisture in. What they may not know is, there are alternatives.

Learn more about the alternative choice to concrete footings here.

Looking for a warmer basement, without structural cracks? Contact us to learn why building your new home foundation on crushed rock footings is IMPORTANT to you!

14 thoughts on “The Problems With Building Your NEW HOME On Concrete Footings”

  1. David Bourgeault says:

    What alternatives are there? I am thinking about building a house in 5 years.

    1. Superior Walls says:

      Hey David,

      Thanks for your question. If you’re building on soil that has less clay, crushed rock is an excellent solution.

      The only foundation system that is engineered for crushed rock is the Precast Foundation Wall System from Superior Walls. We’d be more than happy to have you into our plant in Beausejour to show you around. Let us know if this is something you would be interested in.

      We will be uploading a new blog explaining crushed rock foundations and the benefits to homeowners.

  2. Gregg says:

    If your engineer calls for a footing in the area your planing to build its pretty hard to change the mind of a engineer
    Granted location makes a difference of soil clay or sand etc ..
    What makes your product better then others?

    1. Superior Walls says:

      Thanks Gregg, we know. This is why many prospective clients come to us with engineered stamped drawings, designed with PIP or ICF foundations – where then our job is to get the drawings re-done & re-stamped with our product incorporated. Since our product is the only option for crushed rock footings, it kind of makes us the new kid on the block. There is a bit of a learning curve for everyone.

  3. Sean says:

    But what their is weeping tile beside the footing with that still cause issues

    1. Superior Walls says:

      Sean, weeping tile is always laid 12 inches inside or outside the footing. In the case of concrete footings in particular, water can still pool beneath them, especially if laid directly on the soil.

  4. Don Cleveland says:

    What about piles, And making them mandatory?

    1. Superior Walls says:

      Don, concrete piles are a great options. They are also the most expensive solution in direct comparison to concrete footings & crushed rock footings. If interested, we can send you a direct comparison of the price between these options.

  5. Tim Friesne says:

    What are your thoughts on steel helical piles for foundation under your walls?

    If doing an attached garage, do you still recommend crushed rock under the basement walls? When the garage will be out on piles (steel or concrete). Or what would your engineer suggest?

    1. Superior Walls says:

      Tim, thanks for your questions. We have a helical pile connection that is pre-engineered. We would suggest a crushed rock basement footing with 8’ concrete bell piles or helical piles under the garage. You could also use our 4’ XiPlus walls on a stone footing with a 4’ frost mat around the perimeter for the garage.

  6. Blake Metcalf says:

    Are you not placing crushed rock on same soil one would pour a concrete footing on and at one time you could place pwf foundation walls on crushed gravel footings

  7. Brian says:

    Concrete walls are excellent. In Winnipeg, often cracked walls are due to Hydraulic pressure of the Clay and then a void between the wall and clay as it dries in summer. To reduce the risk of this good back fill against the foundation of rock/gravel which does not apply Hydraulic pressure against the wall and allows good drainage of water to the weeping system. The water is drained away from the foundation thus reducing the pressure, cracking and possibility of water seeping into the Basement.
    Too often to reduce Home Construction costs, Builders just back fill with the same crap soil they dug up. Bad, Bad, Bad!! A Little paid now will save lots of money later. Just do it correctly All.

  8. Jordan Stile says:

    I am well aware of these problems of building your house on concrete floowing. However, this is the best method to it as it is the one which is the most sustainable over long term.

  9. Igor says:

    If may perimeter walls are already built and insulated with vapor ( done by contractors) if I am just about to do few interior walls in a basement, is it nessesary to frame floating walls in Winnipeg MB or can I just go with regular framing??

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