Cold weather poured foundation

First, a thank you to everyone that contributes to this site.
What a wealth of information and I’ve never been so entertained and educated while reading the posts. Thanks to Mark/John Bubber, I’m well versed in what damp-proofing is.
My career is information technology, but after reading most of the posts on this site, it seems I would have had much more fun in HI. Next life.

My wife and I bought into a development just outside of Toronto, Ontario. Our close is in just under 3 months. The builder poured the footings a few weeks ago, and 8 days ago poured the foundation. It was a lucky break - the day they poured, it was 32 degrees. The next day it was just above freezing.
I wasn’t able to make it to the site until this past weekend, so it looks like they heated up the area for those 2 days as well to assist the curing (combined with the additive for cold weather). The last week the temperature has been well below freezing. That’s a quick background.
Thanks to the well informed posts, I am well armed with questions for my builder when I meet with him.

  1. How is the honeycombing and cold joint crack going to be fixed?

  2. Will the foundation be damp-proofed, or water-proofed. There are completed homes beside me, so if I knew what I was looking for, I would have my first clue.

  3. Related to the above - what will be the composition of the fill material around the foundation. Hopefully pea stone/gravel and not the clay it seems that was excavated.

Finally, for your entertainment, and my further education in these matters, pictures. I’d love to read your comments about whether this looks like a typical foundation cure after a few days. My initial concern was the rough appearance of the back corners as well as honeycombing in spots.

Many thanks

Hi Mark, I still work for a foundation company that works in the GTA until my HI business can sustain me full time.The rough spots in the corners is a build up of stone that occurs as the concrete is moving around the formwork. Vibrators are usually used to eliminate that but nobody ever uses the virbrators on the residential jobs. It shouldn’t be an issue as it is likely only on the exterior and does not pass all the way through the foundation. The company I work for will normally patch small honeycomb and cold joint cracks with a water proofing tar that we trowel on over the bad areas. The foundation is then usually damproofed and the the dimple wrap is added unless you were able to upgrade to a better product like a blue skin or something along those lines. I rarely see that ever available through the builders, usually only done on the large custom homes that we do. I guarantee you that the builder plans to backfill with exactly what he removed and has no plans on bringing in different material. Overall the pictures do not look too bad except they did not quite fill the bottom of the garage door area all the way, it is not a big deal though as the slab should come over top of that. Good luck with the house.P.S. Mark I just noticed that the cold joint is on the outside wall of what appears to be the front porch, I do not see a doorway which means that there will be no cold cellar. They should waterproof the inside wall of that porch because that wall is adjacent to your living space, and the porch will be backfilled meaning I do not believe that the cold joint will end up being a very significant issue.


Good luck w/house `n no problem, most of us on here just trying to help.

As some us have stated and know, you guys would be much better off if the exterior walls were waterproofed, not damproofed, and backfilled w/most-all gravel.

-have seen honeycomb areas be a problem and not be a problem,again, better to have exterior walls waterproofed and backfilled w/gravel

-as Mr B said,almost always damproofed and, same excavated soil used to backfill which also most often includes bricks,blocks,wood,cans and other crap

The weight of the equipment alone can/could cause a crack(s) or other problems,sometimes it does and sometimes not,just a heads up.

After backfilling,as the soil settles along-against the walls in coming months, it also can/could cause a crack(s) and subsequent leak(s). Settling soil can also PULL down parts of dimpled membrane or create some gaps along top of membrane,and so WATER can get between the wall and gaps and enter through rod holes/cracks etc,again,best to use gravel and waterproof walls,not damproof
See…COMPACTION and…Careful on the Construction Site
Also note the good reasons to backfill w/most-all gravel.

See some rod holes, as in pic 16, patched. ALL rod holes should be ‘filled-packed’. But as long as they are patched as in pic 16 and then walls are waterproofed you should be ok. If they miss one or more rod holes and only damproof and backfill w/same soil then you will have some leaks at some point.

Some of these leak and…some do not.

Here is a newer home, was damproofed and backfilled w/same soil
Many rod holes leak. See hairline crack,leaks…regardless of grade.Don`t be fooled by anyone who might tell you crap like, ‘All you need to do is raise and slope the grade/add longer downspout extensions’ etc.

The back corners…again, would be best to waterproof,apply a THICK mastic AND visqueen, then a thicker membrane since walls will be backfilled w/equipment. Could also FIRST apply hydraulic cement over corners,then thick mastic etc. Visqueen is important,many rule it out,think its too thin etc. What they dont understand want the 6+ mil visqueen to STICK/adhere to the mastic, a dimpled memb. wont STICK and often will have gaps along top and other areas,especially AFTER backfilling w/equipment and as the same excavated soil settles against the wall.

Many of the pictures of dimpled memb you may see are BEFORE the walls are backfilled and so you won`t see what happens to some walls/membranes unless one digs holes/waterproofs for a living.

Thanks Jerry, thanks John - some great information AGAIN. I have a feeling my builder and I are going to have a long conversation. I’ll try to make it short though. “USE GRAVEL!” “WATERPROOF!”. Not even a “Got Milk?” from John? Must have been a long day dealing with leaking damproofed foundations.
I’ll keep you posted with my builder’s replies.
thanks for the help!

no problem Mister Mark.

Got milk? Salma does!
on Oprah

update - emailed site supervisor shortly after my Jan 10 visit to the foundation and after reading the great replies here. We exchanged a couple of emails about how the builder was going to treat the foundation. Answer was tar and plastic dimpled sheet, then backfill with same excavated dirt. I proposed a waterproofing of the foundation be done while it was still exposed at my own expense and backfill with all gravel.

At this point I stopped getting replies. I soon found out why…within days of the emails the foundation was backfilled. Strange…we didn’t have any days where the temperature rose above zero during the month after the foundation was poured. Surely it couldn’t have cured enough in this time to be backfilled.

Finally got a chance to drive back to the site today.
2 ugly cracks big enough to see through. :mad:

I think at this point it’s safe to say I’ve made a mistake both with choosing a winter build and probably choosing the builder.
This particular builder had even just won the region’s coveted “builder of the year” award. We’ll see how this resolves, but I doubt they’ll dig and waterproof these cracks and I suspect this is just the beginning of a long fight.

Is having your home built always this stressful ? :shock:

Sorry to hear/see Mark, god that sukks. ](*,)

Beware,when they backfill w/equipment,that too ‘could’ cause a crack(s)

This pic, looks like they already brought in/backfilled with a little stone
over the drain tiles but its also against the lower part of the crack and

Obviously theyll need to remove the stone where its up against the wall-cracks in order to waterproofem fully.
They should use hydraulic cement FIRST, in and over the cracks,then
apply ‘THICK’ mastic/roofing cement/tar and then visqueen BEFORE
the dimpled sheeting.

And NOW its even more important to backfill with all gravel/peastone.
6th 6th 6th paragraph…
-Compaction… (IF they backfill with part or all of excavated soil)
…“After compaction, soil is under compression like a spring and
CONTINUES to PUSH against the foundation…”

This can/could also CAUSE another crack(s) in coming weeks/months

-Careful on the Construction Site…
“When there`s a heavy load on the ground next to a foundation,SOME
of the PRESSURE is transferred to the WALL…trucks that come
near a basement wall can add enough surcharge pressure to damage
the wall…”


Sorry to hear about your troubles… Interesting thread though, especially for someone like myself who is in contemplating a major renovation with plenty new basement space.
I hope you keep us posted!
Good luck,


Mark I am sorry to see the developments, keep those photos and document and all your interaction with the builder as you are definately going to note this for your Tarion warranty documents maybe consult with your attorney so that you can best protect yourself if you run into trouble down the road. Those are BIG cracks Tarions standards state that cracks larger than 6mm in width in a concrete foundation wall is not acceptable. We had a situation Mark during a winter build with a very reputable Ontario builder where the Superintendent backfilled a winter poured foundation 3 days after it was poured. Well the walls cracked so badly that the back wall and about 10 feet on either side had to be knocked down and repoured. When they were going to demolish the wall I advised the Superintendent that there were visible cracks about 6 feet further ahead of where they were going to begin the demolition. He said they were small and were fine ( keep in mind that this foundation was barely 1 week old in sub freezing temperatures). Well long story short the foundation was repoured and guess what? When they backfilled again the walls cracked further and bowed in exactly where I told him the other cracks were. They will do everything to cut costs if they can , especially with repairs even though it defies common sense. Be the thorn in this builders side and keep on Tarions butt if you are not taken care of, the squeeky wheel gets the grease. Consider hiring one of our local inspectors to join you on your Pre Delivery Inspection or for your Tarion 30 day warranty form for additional documentation from a third party. Good luck and keep us informed.

Continued thanks John and Jerry.
I’ll keep the thread updated as we go.

Unfortunately I work and live in Toronto until the house is built,
so I can’t be at the site while the builder is there unless I take a day off.
That may have to happen.
The last couple of weekends there was still no progress with the cracks,
although they hadn’t gotten any worse even with the framing almost complete. We’ll see what happens when it is bricked.
I suspect they are waiting for the temps to possibly rise above zero again to try to remedy the cracks (improperly of course).

The 2 main vertical cracks (one on east side and one on west side) are both wider than 6mm and I am taking all the pictures I can.
A couple new cracks formed a couple weeks ago, so I’ll continue to visit and take pictures.

I’ll also cross my fingers things are going to work out, but the lack of communication from the builder doesn’t help my confidence.

In fact, during my latest visit, I noted some lumber that surely should not have been used. I’ll post those pics later.

Hiring a home inspector for the PDI or 30 day is a very good idea.
Hopefully this post doesn’t take 5 days to get posted like my last one :wink:

Just wanted to post an update.
It’s been a month and a half since we’ve lived in our new home.
For the most part, the builder has fixed the deficiencies we’ve listed,
but they really dragged their feet on those cracks.

The 2 main foundation cracks were patched from the inside with hydraulic cement when they poured the basement floor just before we moved in.

They left those large cracks wide open on the outside until today…and after I repeatedly told them I wanted them injected and covered with hydraulic cement at the very least, they waited until I was working and came by today and parged everything.

We’ve put up with some pretty crappy things in the last 6 weeks, but today floored me.

Obviously the next step is the legal process…which I was hoping to avoid.

As Jerry said, 6mm cracks are not acceptable by Tarion standards - and as John Bubber once predicted - they’ll try to parge over the cracks…I’m speechless. :shock:


My 2 cents, ‘if’ Mr Builder didn`t apply hydraulic cement in-over da cracks on the OUTSIDE and then apply a thick mastic AND backfill with
most-all gravel (we see the membrane that does NOT stick-to-the-wall)
then he did not ‘fix’ the deficiencies correctly and the crack(s) ‘may’
widen and/or may leak…sorry to say.

In several pics one can see they backfilled with at-least SOME crap,
some clay/bricks/concrete etc and top of crack(s) STILL OPEN.

Say again, the membrane does NOT ‘seal/waterproof/repair’ the cracks.
And if they told ya this membrane removes/relieves exterior pressure then
they are highly-mistaken.

Pic #5 and 15 for instance, top of crack open,rest of crack BELOW grade,behind membrane may be open,can certainly leak.

Sure is a PITIFUL job…the backfilling/membrane etc.

This builder understands the importance of backfilling with all gravel to
within 2-3" of grade, read all of 6th paragraph

U S Army Corps Engs, on BACKFILLING with same excavated soil
Page 96 …click arrow at bottom of page
3.4.5 Backfill
…“lateral pressure problems are EXASPERATED by using unsuitable
backfill material,usually from ON-SITE EXCAVATION…generally not
recommended for backfill…”

Oh Canada,Alanis Morissette (would you?) and Ottawa Sen. fans

Whenever I see this kind of stuff (when I do phased construction inspections) I tell the buyer to have a cease and desist order filed and don’t let the builder go near the site until it is all fixed, as agreed, and inspected by an independent inspector.

Don’t know how it goes in Canada.

Also, I would send these photos to whatever yahoos gave this builder that award, as well as plaster them all over Angie’s List or whatever you have in Canada. Also, call the press.

Helps to shame the builder into fixing it, and doing so in the right way, as opposed to getting lawyers involved.

Sad to say, this kinda work is more and more common.

Appreciate the feedback William!

I know I’m not the only one that has gone through or will go through issues with the foundation right from the start. Hopefully others in my position will learn from this thread. My second email was to the builder site supervisor with pictures. The last thing I want is to pay out money to a lawyer, so I expressed my deep anger at the perceived cover-up and suggested I wouldn’t stop escalating until this was properly fixed. I did get an immediate response saying they would have the foundation company come out next week to look at injecting the cracks…

As an Ontario home owner, I paid $550 to the Home Warranty program (Tarion), but few people ever are compensated from what I hear.

I know this road ends in a matter of years with me paying someone like John Bubber to waterproof the foundation (the only true way to fix this), but I’ll fight the fight for now. It’s sad and disappointing because there have been moments where the builder has earned my respect, but too many moments where they’ve lost it.

Marc, are you living in the house with that debris and straw still around your lot? It is the end of May and they still have straw around the site and are letting people live in a home with that debris around their lot. I would like to see some interior shots of the basement if you have them because those hydraulic cement patches are going to leak, the bare minimum those cracks need to be injected if not more appropriate waterproofing. I would file a claim with Tarion as soon as possible if I were you to get the issue on record and get the ball rolling, best of luck and sorry to see what is occuring to you.