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Old 11-05-2011, 06:33 AM   #1
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Acceptable footing/foundation dimensions deviations


I'm about to become a first-time builder (be my own contractor). Of all the things that concern me there's one that drives me nuts.

How do I ensure the dimensions of my house turn out to be right? I fought with my architect for every inch, and I don't want lousy foundation work screw everything up if they pour it incorrectly and shave off (or add) an inch where it's not supposed to be. If foundation is off, everything else will be off, and I can't even accept a thought of that.

So my question is: how common are deviations from plan when pouring footings/foundation? Where do mistakes occur most frequently, footings or foundation, and what is acceptable deviation (if any)? Should I demand and expect everything to be precise to 1/16", 1/8", 1/4" 1/2"?

How, as a general contractor can I ensure that I get it right?

Thanks

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Old 11-05-2011, 07:02 AM   #2
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Acceptable footing/foundation dimensions deviations


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Originally Posted by Nuieve View Post
How, as a general contractor can I ensure that I get it right?
A tape measure?

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Old 11-05-2011, 07:37 AM   #3
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Acceptable footing/foundation dimensions deviations


oh **** i'm new and nobody is here
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Old 11-05-2011, 07:44 AM   #4
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Acceptable footing/foundation dimensions deviations


That's an odd question---

Make sure the plans are correct

Make sure the contractor understands them

Check the work as it progresses

Seldom is the cheapest bid the right choice.
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Old 11-05-2011, 07:50 AM   #5
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Acceptable footing/foundation dimensions deviations


I will measure everything, of course. However, I'm afraid I'll miss something somewhere. I wonder if anyone heard of any horror stories about foundation work (that would further fuel my anxiety).
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Old 11-05-2011, 08:09 AM   #6
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Acceptable footing/foundation dimensions deviations


Any builder has horror stories---On an addition job the low bid concrete guy used a 4 foot level to set the foundation height instead of a water level-----top of pour was out by over an 1 1/2"

This was corrected during the framing.

On another the excavator miss read the elevation and dug the hole for a house 32" to deep.

This was corrected with taller foundation forms and lots of crushed gravel.

You need to check the work at each stage---hire an old pro to do the work---they have already seen enough screw ups to catch them before a correction is not practical.

And don't be 'worried'--that clouds your thinking. Be vigilant and alert. Know what each step requires and hire an old pro----Mike----(I'm old,too.)
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Old 11-05-2011, 08:46 AM   #7
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Acceptable footing/foundation dimensions deviations


Quote:
Originally Posted by Nuieve View Post
I'm about to become a first-time builder (be my own contractor). Of all the things that concern me there's one that drives me nuts.

How do I ensure the dimensions of my house turn out to be right? I fought with my architect for every inch, and I don't want lousy foundation work screw everything up if they pour it incorrectly and shave off (or add) an inch where it's not supposed to be. If foundation is off, everything else will be off, and I can't even accept a thought of that.

So my question is: how common are deviations from plan when pouring footings/foundation? Where do mistakes occur most frequently, footings or foundation, and what is acceptable deviation (if any)? Should I demand and expect everything to be precise to 1/16", 1/8", 1/4" 1/2"?

How, as a general contractor can I ensure that I get it right?

Thanks
I wrote a long post to you about this.
I erased it.

I will only say you are very likely headed for disaster as surely as though you were on a runaway freight train.

You need a good, experienced General Contractor in the most urgent way.

To be honest, I would run from you if you said all this to me about a potential project.

To answer your last question..... You can't. Because you are NOT a General Contractor. And it would take years to educate yourself enough to be one. You're a homeowner who wants to be in total charge.

That's fine if you insist and will have it no other way. But be aware of the probable poor outcome of this approach.

One of the best attributes of a GC is knowledge; knowing what has to be done, when it has to be done, and how it needs to be done, and how it will affect all other work to be done...... all weeks and months BEFORE any of that work is even begun. To be a GC, you should have already built this house, detailed step by detailed step, in your mind. Dimensions, specifications, details, and concepts should largely be memorized and at ready recall in your mind at a moment's notice.
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Old 11-05-2011, 09:14 AM   #8
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Acceptable footing/foundation dimensions deviations


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I will measure everything, of course. However, I'm afraid I'll miss something somewhere. I wonder if anyone heard of any horror stories about foundation work (that would further fuel my anxiety).
You, most assuredly will. And not just "something, somewhere". You are going to miss hundreds of things, everywhere. That is a fact you can take to the bank.

This is why you need to bust out of "cheap" and spend some money on a man who knows his job in this arena.

What do you do for a living? I think I'd like to come do your job starting next week, and do it well. Any problems with that?

Why? I have the desire. Isn't that enough?
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Old 11-05-2011, 10:24 AM   #9
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Acceptable footing/foundation dimensions deviations


Does your municipality require an as-built foundation survey? In many locations, you need to bring a registered surveyor out to verify the foundation locations. This as-built plan is then used as a record document for your building's physical location with the county. My point is that the surveyor would uncover any foundation discrepancy. Would I be concerned about the footprint being off an inch? No. 3" - probably. I would be more concerned that my basement walls were constructed plumb with proper reinforcing, dampproofed and insulated properly.

If you hire the right contractor, you shouldn't really be that worried about it. As someone who has worked as a GC and GC'd my own house, you need to realize that you absolutely will have problems building your house. They could be very minor or you might get something more than you bargained for. How you handle the problems defines the quality of the builder/subcontractor.

Finding the right subcontractors is absolutely the key to a successful project - hire people you trust and you should be okay. If you talk to somebody and don't have a good feeling, trust your gut.
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Old 11-05-2011, 10:34 AM   #10
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Acceptable footing/foundation dimensions deviations


all very good points, if you want the footings pretty close to bang on get a surveyor to map out the locations for the footing crew.. just remember though footings are typically 3x as wide as the foundation wall so there is room for play for when the walls go up.. being off by a 1/16" on a footing is very minor, then the foundation wall goes up.. if your using an icf system then you want the footing within 1/4" of level so it doesnt slow down the installation of the icf.

as someone already pointed out, a homeowner with no experience with homebuilding trying to be a gc is a nightmare for the crews doing the work. i was borderline in this situation this time last year. we were building a custom house and the homeowner wanted complete control over where the materials were being bought and who was supplying them... she figured buying all the wiring and boxes were going to save her several dollars via buying it at home depot... when in reality she got lower quality wire and boxes at a higher price than what out electrician uses even with him getting his profit from marking it up.

also when we were ready to start installing the siding she didnt know what she wanted... hardie plank or vinyl and to boot she didnt know what kind of trim detail she wanted on the windows and doors. then complained that the siding wasnt atleast half done.... we clearly told her at the start we "ABSOLUTELY NEED" the trim detail before we can even start the siding.. the trim has to go on first.. she kept barking to get the siding started.... yet with no trim detail, so we installed 3 or 4 courses of vinyl on the side of the house with no windows.. and left it for 3 weeks

another big thing is to get a good drawing from an architect.. one that every thing is clearly labelled and all the measurements jive. spending more money on a good drawing through a architect as opposed to a bulk drawing from a drafting company will do wonders.. i dont know how many new homes and additions ive framed where the drawings were nothing but a nightmare, we were on the phone 2 or 3 times a day with the home owner and draftsman trying to figure out what was wrong on the drawings, for window locations, partitions...
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Old 11-05-2011, 10:36 AM   #11
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Acceptable footing/foundation dimensions deviations


oh and in regards to your actual headline... for footing dimensions... a proper footing should be a minimum of 8" thick by 24" wide.. it can be thicker or wider just shouldnt be less as it compromises its strentgh. the key thing though is that the actual dimension of the footing should be spec'd by the architect or engineer so it can handle the weight of your perticular house
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Old 11-05-2011, 10:48 AM   #12
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Acceptable footing/foundation dimensions deviations


Quote:
Originally Posted by Nuieve View Post
I'm about to become a first-time builder (be my own contractor). Of all the things that concern me there's one that drives me nuts.

How do I ensure the dimensions of my house turn out to be right? I fought with my architect for every inch, and I don't want lousy foundation work screw everything up if they pour it incorrectly and shave off (or add) an inch where it's not supposed to be. If foundation is off, everything else will be off, and I can't even accept a thought of that.

So my question is: how common are deviations from plan when pouring footings/foundation? Where do mistakes occur most frequently, footings or foundation, and what is acceptable deviation (if any)? Should I demand and expect everything to be precise to 1/16", 1/8", 1/4" 1/2"?

How, as a general contractor can I ensure that I get it right?

Thanks
How can you become a builder/contractor when you know nothing? What did you just wake up one morning and say you want to become a contractor and think you could just become one overnight without having experience? Don't come back and say that you have experience with a question like you posted here about ensuring the foundation is the right size.
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Old 11-05-2011, 11:05 AM   #13
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Acceptable footing/foundation dimensions deviations


My simple answer to your question, I would look up the 3-4-5 rule for squaring points to measure from. From there I would start with the longest straight edge of the foundation to work off of. If your forms are straight, square and laid out according to your foundation plan you should have little problems with the pad provided it's poured correctly. But, you need to start from a good foundation.
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Old 11-05-2011, 11:13 AM   #14
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I have at least three family members who built their own houses (with advise of friends, and some pros, of course). It costed them about $60-70/sq ft for pretty decent homes.

I contacted a few contractors. They quoted me $200-260k for BASIC 1500 sq ft house, no extras. I said screw it, I'll do it myself. I bought some books on "how to be your own contractor", I read them all. I have pretty good idea of what goes after what. I learned a lot how to deal with subs and how not to get in the way and have things organized. By the time I start construction (if) I will know every single door knob that must be there. I'm very organized.

My goal is to build a 150k house. I will get quotes for everything, calculate the difference between the lowest contractor bid and my own estimate, if it's over 20k, I'm building it myself. I have above mentioned family members who know a thing or two about construction, they will help.
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Old 11-05-2011, 12:30 PM   #15
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Acceptable footing/foundation dimensions deviations


you should have mentioned that in the original post.. even still though having family members who have built their own house doesnt make up for having someone who has years of experience and long list of subcontractors they trust to do work both with quality and on time

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