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My builder didn't put any rebar in my foundation walls

fillerup's picture

We've hired a builder (won't name names) to build us a home in Michigan with 9' basement walls. They were poured 6" thick with 3,000 PSI concrete on concrete footings. The unbalanced dirt is about 7'-8'. There will be a solid concrete slab, with standard mudsill/platform framing. I was present for the footing pour, and the steel form placements for the walls, and the form removal, but not the wall concrete pour. Before the wall was poured, there were a few upside-down "U" shaped rebars coming out of the footing then back in to the footing. There was only 2 vertical pieces of rebar for the whole footing, these 2 pieces were about 6' in height. There was no other rebar. After the forms were removed from the walls, when I was present, I asked the concrete pour company if they used any rebar in the walls. He said no, none. I asked why not? He said the builder didn't ask for it, "some builders ask for it, some builders don't". I didn't know any better so I didn't question it. Now looking back at code for Michigan, it looks like at this wall thickness at this wall height with this much unbalanced weight that 4 horizontal rebar pieces running the entire length of all walls, as well as 3/4" rebar placed every 16" vertical, is required. But there is none. Zero. No rebar in the walls. The rough framing is scheduled to start in 2 weeks. I feel this basement is a dangerous basement to be in, and won't be safe/will eventually fail. I've contacted the builder to see how he wants to resolve. But what options do we really even have at this point, rip the whole basement foundation out and re-pour? Brace the walls somehow? Hope for the best?

Talk to your local building (post #215061, reply #1 of 18)

Talk to your local building inspector.  The setup should have been inspected before the pour, and the inspector given reasonable assurance that things would be done to code.  If not to code the inspector can issue a stop work order until things are corrected.

And you may also want to contact a lawyer.


Of all the preposterous assumptions of humanity over humanity, nothing exceeds most of the criticisms made on the habits of the poor by the well-housed, well-warmed, and well-fed.  --Herman Melville

That sounds like a problem to (post #215061, reply #2 of 18)

That sounds like a problem to me but only your architect, engineer or inspector can tell you for sure. Do the plans show rebar in them? Of course the only resolution if the rebar is supposed to be there would be to tear it all out and start over, something the builder will fight to keep from doing.

Florida Licensed Building Contractor, 50 years experience in commercial remodeling, new homes, home remodeling and repairs and all types building maintenance.

One minor point.  When the (post #215061, reply #3 of 18)

One minor point.  When the foundation is poured, it is generally required anymore to embed a ground cable that attaches to steel in the foundation.  This then serves as the main ground for the electrical system. 

If this wasn't done that's another issue to raise.


Of all the preposterous assumptions of humanity over humanity, nothing exceeds most of the criticisms made on the habits of the poor by the well-housed, well-warmed, and well-fed.  --Herman Melville

Thanks for the responses. I (post #215061, reply #4 of 18)

Thanks for the responses. I still haven't heard back from the builder. I purchased a consumer-grade hand-held metal detector which is designed to detect rebar in concrete up to 4 inches deep. I checked the walls from both sides of the wall as much as I could, checking for horizontal and vertical rebar, and came up with nothing. I think it's plain cocrete. Think it needs to be torn down and started from fresh?

Oh, and can township/cittys/local municipilaties have more leniet codes? The Michigan Residential Code requires rebar. Maybe the local municipality doesn't? (I think they can only be made more strict, not more lenient?)

Talk to your local building (post #215061, reply #5 of 18)

Talk to your local building inspector.


Of all the preposterous assumptions of humanity over humanity, nothing exceeds most of the criticisms made on the habits of the poor by the well-housed, well-warmed, and well-fed.  --Herman Melville

you need to talk with  local (post #215061, reply #6 of 18)

you need to talk with  local building inspector

you need to talk with  local (post #215061, reply #7 of 18)

you need to talk with  local building inspectorб coz i had the same problem, recently

So I called my local building (post #215061, reply #8 of 18)

So I called my local building inspector and spoke to the inspector who actually inspected the house. He reminded me that the wall is actually 10" thick including the brick ledge, and only the top 2-3' are 6" thick. So with the wall being 8' 10" high with about 7' of unbalanced backfill and being 10", if the plan didn't have rebar on it then none was required. He said houses go up all the time without rebar in them at all, it's very common. 

The builder also replied after hearing I called the inspector - the builder was mad I did that. I told him that if I have a concern, I will call them and ask questions. 

No rebar might be code, but still makes me nervous. But I guess I'm to assume to drop it cause "it's no big deal" (said the inspector)? I have not seen the original house plans, no one wants to show them to me. 

So vertical rebar may not be (post #215061, reply #9 of 18)

So vertical rebar may not be required with 10" thick walls, 9' high, 6' backfill.

But, all poured concrete walls need 2-3 horiztonal bands of rebar.

I'm confused - I know some of the code can be loosely translated, but horizontal rebar in poured concrete floors is black and white - it needs to be there. The builder and home inspector are refusing to show me the house plans, but both assure me "it's fine", "it's no big deal". 

Same thing happens with me. (post #215061, reply #10 of 18)

Same thing happens with me few days back. Thanks for sharing.

What do you mean, (post #215061, reply #11 of 18)

What do you mean, @MichaelKing? You had a basement get poured with no rebar? What are you doing?

Note that in some cases a (post #215061, reply #12 of 18)

Note that in some cases a fiber-reenforced slab does not need rebar.


Of all the preposterous assumptions of humanity over humanity, nothing exceeds most of the criticisms made on the habits of the poor by the well-housed, well-warmed, and well-fed.  --Herman Melville

Where exactly? A chicken (post #215061, reply #13 of 18)

Where exactly? A chicken coop? Tell us your practical, first hand experience with fibered concrete please. Fiber is not a substitute for reinforcing steel, ever, anywhere.

Wiki- "Generally fibers do not increase the flexural strength of concrete, and so cannot replace moment–resisting or structural steel reinforcement. Indeed, some fibers actually reduce the strength of concrete."

National Ready Mixed Concrete Association- "https://www.nrmca.org/aboutconcrete/cips/24p.pdf"

Florida Licensed Building Contractor, 50 years experience in commercial remodeling, new homes, home remodeling and repairs and all types building maintenance.

Generally rebar is put into a (post #215061, reply #14 of 18)

Generally rebar is put into a slab to resist cracking due to shrinkage, et al, not for "moment resisting" strength.


Of all the preposterous assumptions of humanity over humanity, nothing exceeds most of the criticisms made on the habits of the poor by the well-housed, well-warmed, and well-fed.  --Herman Melville

You forgot to tell us about (post #215061, reply #15 of 18)

You forgot to tell us about your personal experience pouring concrete again. How about it? People come here looking for expert advice, not some guy doing a  Google seach so he can be the first one to answer.  Someday some innocent is going to take your advice and get hurt.

Steel is put into concrete to give it strength in tension and incidentaly reduce large cracks and breaks. A concrete column without steel has very little resistance to movement with out steel so yes, steel does all the "moment resisting." A tall building without steel rebar would crumble to dust in a mild earthqake due to the moment stresses placed on it.

Florida Licensed Building Contractor, 50 years experience in commercial remodeling, new homes, home remodeling and repairs and all types building maintenance.

We're talking about a SLAB.  (post #215061, reply #16 of 18)

We're talking about a SLAB.  The wall discussion ended a long time ago.


Of all the preposterous assumptions of humanity over humanity, nothing exceeds most of the criticisms made on the habits of the poor by the well-housed, well-warmed, and well-fed.  --Herman Melville

"I'm confused - I know some (post #215061, reply #18 of 18)

"I'm confused - I know some of the code can be loosely translated, but horizontal rebar in poured concrete floors is black and white - it needs to be there. The builder and home inspector are refusing to show me the house plans, but both assure me "it's fine", "it's no big deal"."

 

Black and white the man said. Plus he wasn't asking a question and even if he was fibers are nor reinforcing

Florida Licensed Building Contractor, 50 years experience in commercial remodeling, new homes, home remodeling and repairs and all types building maintenance.

The IRC is the builder's bible (post #215061, reply #17 of 18)

The IRC gives you all the info you need. Others' opinions may be helpful, but the IRC, in conjuction with your local building inspection department, has final authority. In a legal dispute that goes to court, the IRC will more than likely have the final say, no matter what local building practice is. Play it safe. Build to Code.

Mel Fros froscarpentry.com