Cracked Foundation Walls - New Construction Walk-out Basement

I purchased a new construction home in NJ. The foundation of the home is a poured concrete floor and walls (3 concrete wall sides since it is a walk-out basement).

I have not closed on the house yet, but have noticed several vertical hair-line cracks on the outside walls. I didn’t think anything of it until I noticed 1 that is both inside and outside, from top to bottom (about 8’) and was wet along parts of it. I would say about 4’ of the wall is above ground outside due to it being a walk-out.

Since this crack is so long and wet AND there are numerous other cracks on the foundation walls, would it be smart to hire a Structural Engineer to look at the foundation prior to closing? I know our town inspected the foundation after the pour and approved it, but this crack happened after the fact.

Any guidance here is greatly appreciated. Thank you!

Hi Tom, I don’t think unregistered users are able to post pictures, that’s a shame it would be nice to be able to see a picture of what you are discussing. It may be worth your while to either try to get the town inspector to visit again, or to hire a Home Inspector to come and look at it before you go to structural engineer. What area are you in?

I would not accept this as being “normal”, if you have water intrusion now, it will only become more of a problem in the future.

Concrete cracks, this is a fact, but there are waterproof materials available which should have been utilized prior to the foundation being backfilled with perforated drain pipe installed at the bottom of the footing possibly day-lighting outward without the need for a sump hole.

How wide the crack is makes a difference as well, while hairline cracks are normal, cracks which you can place change from your pocket into are quite different.

The direction of the crack can give someone a better idea of what is going on, does the crack follow the direction of a concrete form in a straight direction vertically, or is the crack zig-zagging vertically?

Can you pull a string-line down the wall and see a distinct bulge inward at the concrete?

Regardless, I personally would not accept a leaking foundation prior to closing escrow, and I would want a reputable foundation contractor at the property to witness the repair made by the contractor who poured the foundation.

Its very important the foundation is waterproofed now so your not spending money having it waterproofed after you own the home.

If there is a structural concern, this certainly needs to be repaired now as well.

Hard to guess what you have going on with just a description, but if you have water leaking now, you have a problem now.

Now remember that we can not see the foundation and I can imagine several reasons why cracks or what appears to be cracks are present after forms are removed.

Through wall cracks on new construct are suspect.
Call in a specialist. I hate the generic engineers myself. Have a viable foundation repair company do an inspection. Expect to pay $500.
All the best Tom.

As Mike Holmes degrades HI’S the same can be said for HI’S aggression towards builders.
I will leave you with that thought.

Thanks everyone for the replies. The crack is a hairline crack, both on the inside and outside of the foundation. It starts at the corner of a basement window and zig zags vertically down to the foundation. It is not a straight line. It zig zags down and left (from the inside) and down and right (from the outside). I do have pictures, but not sure if I can post on here. The wetness was along the entire crack. Also I should note that while it is new construction, the foundation was poured about 14 months ago.

I tried using a flashlight tonight with a friend to see if we could see any light through the crack from inside and outside, but were unable to see any light.

So my take away right now is to definitely have it inspected by either a town engineer or a foundation specialist as opposed to a structural engineer. I definitely plan on holding the builder responsible to fix prior to close but my concerns would be that they would look to repair the cheapest way possible.

Any further thoughts are appreciated. Thanks!

A crack at a window opening is a different story, just make sure the foundation is waterproofed correctly. Concrete cracks, especially at openings.

Zig zag. Thanks Tom
It is CMU I suspect. Concrete masonry units Tom. That effect is called serpentine cracking. The pattern is uniform and not random.
This would leave the zig zag pattern you are describing.

Ether- or Tom, it is hard to relate to a layman’s language and it is a suspect condition a home inspector may report on.

I will recommend you ask the builder of the foundation the meaning behind the cracks “Verification in writing” Tom. AcceptNothing else.

If the issues is suspect call in separate analyses to confirm the foundation’s condition.
All the best. You can post photo’s on a separate carrier like flicker, Picasa, etc. Then anyone can follow a link to the photos.
The help desk will explain how.


CMU Masonry Wall openings should have a lentil (bond beam) with proper barring.
I prefer the #2 lentil. The nailer covers one full CMU and insures the bearing is one full length of the CMU.
It effectively covers both BUTT JOINTS and not just one side. The downward energy is transferred equally across the masonry bond.
This link explains CMU wall erection, openings and load. Enjoy masonry wall design.

In the opening there should be one half and one full unit in the clear and effective span. Deviation of any masonry bond allows degrading to take place.

Last 3 courses before a wall opening should be ladder framed for horizontal reinforcement. To stop spread.

Tom factors I can not observe are frustrating to me. Seeing the cracks do not mirror each other through the width and length of the course leave to much imagination allowing unfounded hypotheses.
I wish I knew more about the wall design.
All the best.
Please keep us posted.

Hi, I uploaded some pictures to flickr at this link:

If the foundation is already waterproofed and backfilled it needs to be excavated and waterproofed correctly, this is very important.

Where water is entering apparently the crack wasn’t parged at the exterior, or the crack developed in the curing process after being waterproofed, regardless, they need to start over, seal the crack, then waterproof the concrete.

If this has already been waterproofed, I would have someone who knows the ins-and outs of proper waterproofing doing the work the second time or you will be haunted with water intrusion forever.

I’m with Dale. And, don’t let them try to fix it from the inside…

Because it is a walk-out basement, much of that area of the basement is already above ground. You can see the crack on the from the outside. I know they put on the “black” waterproofing, but not sure how far down. The part of the foundation that is above ground was not waterproofed (no visible black waterproofing). So, I suppose they are going to have to excavate some and make sure it is probably waterproofed?

Also, do you still suggest I hire an independent foundation expert to take a look at it or would the town engineer suffice? I know this builder and they will take the easiest and cheapest route to fix unless told otherwise by the town.

My answer Peter has two reasons behind it. The choice is always up to you.
#1 I personally would lean towards a foundation company. They specialize in this particular component of the home and have engineers on hand.
#2 By hiring an independent foundation company there should be no conflicts of interest. :slight_smile:

I my area, Montreal Qc., municipal inspectors are bribed and bought daily. That is an unfortunate fact.:frowning: There are ongoing hearings to shed light on the subject and enact change.

Mr. Cage and Mr. duffy are concurring on a repair strategy. Although it is true that some foundation repairs demand they be executed from the exterior, it is dependent upon several factors. Seeing there is no report as of yet I am more than certain if and when there is a report my two astute colleagues will be able to help you further.

IMO; The source of the damage should be revealed for 2 reasons.
#1 enact the proper repairs.
#2 If the source is not located and understood and repaired properly the chance of recurrence is always there.

One last note: Ask the foundation company to have all in writing and any warranty be transferable. They will be that little be more caring in the repair effect.:wink:

Sorry to go off thread.
We have seen brick veneer wall openings in structure threads with similar defects. Serpentine cracking at the clear span lower corners expanding outwards.

Anyone see any relevance between what is happening in this situation?
Just asking.:roll:

Peter and anyone else. Please excuse my writing skills. Although I am versed in repairs I am not versed in grammar and sentence structure.
I will take the time off now to enable clearer sentence and structure.

Peter please keep everyone posted all the way through the process. It helps many here. you can add photos. Email and ask them how to install photos via third party or maybe one of the members may help explain it to you.
All the best.

Dale I should be on NACBI board shorty. All the best.

I would hire someone VERY GOOD at waterproofing, if this guy screwed it up the first time he’ll likely do it again.

For the hairline crack at the window corner, no, I wouldn’t waste money on an engineer from the description you wrote.

Just like me to not read all the posts. Thank heavens for Flicker.

**Post #1 Since this crack is so long and wet AND there are numerous other cracks on the foundation walls, **
Post #5 It zig zags down and left (from the inside) and down and right (from the outside).
More cracks?

No parge coat.
Unknow if anti damp was applied.

If I was buying a home I would spend the money to have a foundation specialist. They do anti-damp and/or membrane waterproofing, repairs and can write reports.
My 2 cents.

Hire a home inspector!

Thanks everyone for your guidance. It is greatly appreciated. Well, it turns out that the builder will only fix with hydraulic cement, so I contacted my township construction department and they are going to take a look at the crack before they issue a final CO. If the crack meets certain requirements, they will require the builder to fill with a product called Hilti. If not, I’m on my own to fix it correctly after closing.
Yep. I would spend some money.
I would have hired a home inspector to oversee the project.
Well I guess that money you saved will be spent very quikly.:wink:
Man to answer you like that I am supprised.

Tom, you are putting serious money into this project!
I am sure it could be easy to get a professionnal to look at and fix it if it does need fixing. But as Joe said, and I don’t get it, what is stopping you from hiring an inspector anyway?