DIY Network

Strengthening the Foundation

DIY's Home IQ follows the Oberg family during the decision-making process of building a home. In this article, you'll learn about the extra steps that are taken to make sure the foundation has the strength it needs.

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foundation strengthened with rebar

Concrete beams, masonry columns, beam pockets and filling in cells of the foundation with concrete and rebar are the ways this foundation is strengthened. Building performance specialist Anthony Grisolia also explains when to backfill and the importance of wall strength and weight.

Prevention is the key to eliminating any problems when building a house, and this is why the builder takes extra steps to make sure the foundation has the strength it needs to support the home:

Instead of using wood headers above the windows in the basement, the builder (and homeowners) chose to go with concrete beams for added support.

The Obergs have an elevated garage floor, and another example of added support are masonry columns with steel rods that will help hold the load of the house, especially under the garage. The builder says you never want to set a beam on hollow blocks because it will eventually crush the block.

The property itself poses some interesting challenges as well. When the builder backfills — or pushes the dirt back around the house — there will be a great deal of weight against the foundation wall. Without extra support the wall could crack. To remedy this problem, the builder had the masons reinforce the wall by filling up the open cells of the foundation with concrete every few feet. Once the cells are filled a piece of reinforcement bar (known as "rebar") is dropped down inside the wet concrete. This combination of extra cement and rebar will give the wall the added support needed to withstand the pressure of the hill. This added weight gives the block wall structural strength.