HOW TO BUILD A CUSTOM HOME, Part 17: Foundation Waterproofing

In this series, the professionals at the B.O.L.D. Company will take you through the process of building a custom home in the Greater Cincinnati – Northern Kentucky area. From plan and lot selection, to mortgage approval, to the actual construction, we’ll take you behind-the-scenes each week for an inside look at a different part of the process.

This week, we look at waterproofing the foundation.

Concrete and other masonry products will actually absorb water from the surrounding soil and transmit it through the foundation, where it will evaporate from the inside surfaces. This activity accounts for the dampness of older basements. Furthermore, groundwater is very adept at finding routes into your basement, worsening the dampness, or even causing water to collect.

By code, the minimum requirement to protect the foundation from these problems is called damp-proofing. Usually performed by applying an unmodified asphalt coating to the outside of the foundation, damp-proofing products slow water penetration into the foundation. Damp-proofing prevents the damp feeling of basements in older homes that did not receive such treatment. However, damp-proofing is definitely the least you can do to protect your basement: this is a cost- and corner-cutting measure which could leave you open to higher expenses later on down the road.

While more expensive up-front, water-proofing the foundation is a much better idea. Water-proofing, rather than slowing water penetration, actually stops water from infiltrating the foundation, keeping the basement dry.

The difference between these two very disparate products is tricky for homeowners or home purchasers to recognize. First of all, these products are applied early in the process, just after the foundation is poured, and shortly thereafter the foundation (and it’s damp-proof or water-proof coating) is buried by backfill (dirt). Furthermore, many damp-proofing and water-proofing products look the same to the naked eye – an unmodified asphalt coating for damp-proofing may look much like a modified asphalt bituminous water sealer for water-proofing. However, the short- and long-term results of each can be widely different. Keep in mind, also, that pre-cast panel foundation systems typically have a different means of waterproofing than do traditional poured foundations–while you might not see the asphalt coating sprayed on the outside, these systems often come with a lifetime and transferable waterproofing warranty, which will likely exceed any other waterproofing warranty options. Be sure that your builder goes the extra mile and water-proofs your foundation to protect from dampness and leakages.

A quality builder will further protect your basement from moisture by laying a vapor barrier under the basement floor. After the foundation walls are set atop the footers, the vapor barrier, which is a plastic sheeting, is laid over the drain tile and pea gravel. The concrete slab (the basement floor) will be poured over top of the vapor barrier. The plastic will keep moisture from being absorbed by the concrete slab, keeping the basement dry.

The B.O.L.D. Company is uniquely situated to help you through each and every step of the custom home building process, from financing and design/selections to construction and warranty service. We are available to build on your lot in Northern Kentucky, or let our licensed real estate agents help you find the perfect home site! Our in-house drafting and design team, together with our on-staff licensed Professional Engineer, can help you find or design the plan of your dreams! And of course, B.O.L.D. combines quality products and craftsmanship with unsurpassed customer service, so that the finished home is everything you expect and more. Find out why 400+ other new home customers have trusted The B.O.L.D. Company since 1986!

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