wood treated basement foundation walls

Hi, I am not a home inspector, I am an appraiser. I have a problem with a unique property that has treated wood basement foundation walls and a concrete basement floor. I am not familiar with wood foundation walls and believe it to be uncommon in this area (east of Denver, CO). In researching wood foundation walls on the internet I found this message board and a lengthy post on the topic from several years ago. The property I am appraising includes a 40 acre parcel in a sparsly populated area, with a modified dome house, and it has well and septic system. The house was built in 2003 and has been vacant for several years. The ground is dry and pretty much a dust bowl, the home’s exterior wood siding is dried out, and it is very obvious that no one has maintained anything in or around the house in quite some time. The domestic water was off when I was there and I have been told that it has been off since the property was vacated several years ago. I couldn’t help but notice that there is lush green grass and foliage about 3 - 4 feet around the entire perimeter of the house (even in the window wells). I do not know what is causing this, but it is definitely not normal. I suspected that it could be a drainage problem (the house does not have gutters or downspouts), but we haven’t had much rain all summer in this area so it seems unlikely that the entire perimeter of the house would have collected enough water from rain run-off to make such a drastic difference between the house perimeter and the rest of the 40 acres. I have asked myself if it could have something to do with the treated wood in the foundation, or if it could be something else? I did not observe any standing water inside or out of the home. There are some minor cracks in the ceiling drywall, but I didn’t see any other cracks. Has any one ever seen anything like this or have any ideas as to what could be causing the apparent moisture around the house? Thanks, Debbie :slight_smile:

Greetings from Lansdowne Ontario.
Did you happen to get a humidity reading from inside the basement?

I suggest that you contact this inspector. He knows what he is doing and should be able to help you.

[FONT=Tahoma]Kenton Shepard, NACHI member # 04082383
Peak to Prairie Inspection Service
Certified Master Inspector (CMI)

**Inspection of ****Conventional, **
**Log, Strawbale ****and **
Historic Homes
(303) 258-8289


Thanks for the replys.

I did not get a “humidity reading”. As a reminder, I am not an inspector, I’m an appraiser. I also live in Colorado where when the humidity gets above 30% we are crying about how “muggy” it is :cool:. Is there an instrument you use to measure humidity? I did note that the basement felt somewhat damp and there was a slight musty odor.

I am going to make the appraisal subject to inspections that will answer the foundation and foliage issue. I will refer my client to the inspector you recommended.

I just have never seen anything like this and I suspect that it has something to do with the wood walls. I read somewhere that there should be a membrane between the wood and the earth. I can’t see that so it’s possible that it wasn’t done properly. Another thought I had was that there is too high a water table there for a basement but I haven’t found anything to substantiate that either. I will keep looking for answers.

Again thanks,
Debbie :wink:

Only an actual “on site” inspection will be able to answer your questions.

Anything else would be like asking you to do an appraisal over the phone.

Good Luck!:stuck_out_tongue:

Please let us know how this comes out.

Bye for now…:nachi::nachi::nachi:

Hi Debbie:

I have worked on about 20 or so wood foundations over the years, the last one in 2000.

Yes, with most standards, there should be a water resistant membrane applied to the outer wall below grade. This can be 6 mil polyethylene or even 2 coats of an approved roll-on elastomeric compound. Also joints in the plywood should be caulked with an approved product.

Some items that builders have gotten stung with on PWF’s (by their own lack on knowledge or, heaven forbid, not following the standard’s recommendations are:

  1. Backfill too high for framing materials/spacing chosen (less backfill>>>>smaller studs @ wider centers.
  2. Not framing floor openings for stairs along outer walls properly
  3. Not buying the proper preservative treated wood…using deck grade for foundations…less preservative in deck grade materials
  4. Poorly draining backfill
  5. Improper backfill techniques

Notice that some of these apply to concrete/block foundations also.


Only an actual “on site” inspection will be able to answer your questions.

Anything else would be like asking you to do an appraisal over the phone.

Good Luck!:razz:

Please let us know how this comes out.

Bye for now…:nachi::nachi::nachi:

I’d recommend extensive testing. From your description, moisture levels in the soil around the foundation appear to be higher than in soil elsewhere on the property. Damp soil and wood foundations are a bad combination.

I’ve found two wood foundations in this part of Colorado which used treated plywood but which had no water-/ damp-proofing or membrane installed.
The Industry term for these foundations is PWF- Permanent Wood Foundations.
Poorly constucted wood foundations are often known as PWF- *Powdered *Wood Foundations.

The source of the moisture should be identified and spot excavation performed in various areas to confirm the general condition of the underground portions of the foundation.