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The most important part of the home, your foundation supports every aspect of your building structure and should be carefully planned, built, and cared for. In this three-part series on foundations on the Holland Homes and Renovations blog, we will go over some of the basics of residential foundation options.

To start, we will explore the most popular foundation choices available for your custom home in Ottawa. Next week, we will look at some of the alternative options for foundations that you may not be aware of. Finally, we will conclude our series with tips for foundation waterproofing and maintenance.

Part 1: Concrete Block and Poured Concrete

There are two main options that most people choose from when deciding on a home foundation in Ottawa and each comes with their own advantages and disadvantages.

Concrete Block

The most affordable option when it comes to home foundations, a concrete block foundation is both strong and easy to install. Typically constructed using large concrete blocks held together with mortar, concrete block foundations are laid in an overlapping style similar to bricks. Steel re-bar is used to help connect the blocks to concrete footings in the ground for extra support.

Concrete block foundations are easy to install as the blocks are light and are held together with basic masonry and re-bar. However, several key points must be kept in mind to ensure a strong installation. First, the mortar must be properly applied in order to avoid leakage or weak links in the foundation. The presence of so much mortar means that there are many opportunities for water leakage into gaps and this is why a professional installation is required.

Second, know that the soil surrounding the home is important. The concrete footings that support your foundation need to be sitting on firm, undisturbed soil with proper drainage. Be sure to perform a proper soil analysis before starting on any foundation construction.

Finally, a waterproof membrane should always be used to help water flow down from the foundation walls and to an exterior drain. We will cover more of this topic in part three of our series on foundations when we look at waterproofing options and their importance for a durable and long lasting foundation.

Poured Concrete

The most popular choice for residential home foundations, poured concrete costs a bit more than a concrete block foundation but offers a stronger, more dense installation once the concrete is properly set. Poured concrete also offers superior protection from water intrusion as it forms one large wall instead of multiple blocks where gaps can appear in the mortar installation.

Poured concrete foundations are installed using large wooden walls where the concrete will be poured in-between. Steel re-bar will be attached to the footings prior to the concrete pour and will help to reinforce the walls once they set. The setting process is key for poured concrete as it must be allowed to properly dry and form a secure wall before any further construction is continued.

Due to the seamless nature of poured concrete, it offers better water protection than concrete block. However, poured concrete foundations still require a good moisture barrier and even then, they are known to crack.

We have all heard the horror stories of cracks in foundations and how they can lead to water leakage or general anxiety for homeowners. This is why homeowners should always inspect their poured concrete foundations for any cracks, however small, and address them immediately.

There is no reason to panic if you find a crack in your home foundation. Keep in mind that small cracks in a poured concrete foundation are very common and can be harmless. However, larger cracks can pose an immediate or long term problem if they start to allow moisture into the home. If you find a crack in your poured concrete foundation, contact a foundation expert to have it inspected for size and also to take a moisture reading.