I'm having an addition put on my house with a full basement. The contractor poured the footer and is getting ready to do the foundation walls. He marked the lines for the walls, and I couldn't help but notice that one corner is cutting it very close where the block actually overhangs part of the footer (see pics below). Also note, they didn't use a form for the footer and just poured it into a trench in the dirt, so the edge is rough and some of the concrete supporting the block is just over-pour and not solid footer. It looks like only about 7" of the 12" block will be fully supported by the footer!

Is this footer going to work? Is it to code? If not, what needs to be done to fix it? Can they just dig out more to the side to add to it? Does the part of the footer, or even the whole thing, need to be replaced?

footer with block lines footer with tape measure from line view from above going back to existing structure

Edit More details about the addition: The addition is 15'x30', with 2 15' walls and a 30' between them. (The other 30' side ties into the existing structure.) The corner shown is the end of one of the 15' sides. About 2/3 of it will be 2 stories, including the space above the corner in question. Wood framing with 2x6 external walls will sit on top of the foundation. Greater Philadelphia, PA area.

Update Spoke to my GC, and he confirmed that his concrete subcontractor screwed up by about 6-8 inches. They will be digging the difference out today and pouring additional concrete. But the question still stands: Is this a good, code-compliant solution that won't give me trouble 10-20 years down the road?

  • Are you sure which side of the line the blocks go on? What size is the addition? Where is the location in the world? Off hand would say it is cheap work and might not be code, but it depends if addition is a covered entrance way or a single/multi story building.
    – crip659
    Jul 22, 2021 at 15:23
  • @crip659 - more details about addition added. The block definitely goes on that side of the line. The other end of the footer (next to the existing structure) has 2 lines with the block sitting right between them, accurately centered on top of the footer.
    – djs
    Jul 22, 2021 at 16:09
  • Will let the experts on here answer, but do think you should be concern. Has building inspector check it yet?
    – crip659
    Jul 22, 2021 at 16:17
  • @crip659 - Inspection schedule calls for footer forms before pouring (which passed), then foundation walls prior to backfill. Of course, changing the footer after the walls go up will be much more difficult! I'm hoping to have this addressed before they start the walls, which may be later today. I have a call into my GC...
    – djs
    Jul 22, 2021 at 16:23
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    This is just a comment... Whenever I have worked with a crew and used blocks - above or below grade... The snap line was used to center the blocks not as the edge, one way or the other.
    – DMoore
    Jul 22, 2021 at 17:55

1 Answer 1


No, no, no, that foundation is NOT acceptable. Where is the rebar?

Retaining walls are designed differently than any other type of wall. Specifically: 1) size of rebar, 2) location of rebar in wall, 3) placement and extension of rebar out of the footing.

  1. Because the retaining wall is in bending due to soil placed against it, rebar is significantly larger. There is no rebar extending out of the footing and cannot be drilled into the footing and installed later.

  2. Rebar is installed on the tension side of the wall, which is the outside face of the wall. Generally, the rebar is located on the exterior half of the wall, but your foundation wall is not “solid” enough for the installation of rebar and masonry. (This will be discussed later too.)

  3. In order for rebar to act properly in the wall, the rebar needs to be anchored properly in the footing. This anchorage extends horizontally in the top of the footing and then bends up into the wall. This extension MUST be a minimum of 18” in order for proper lap of the rebar to be placed in the wall.

I also know that you do not have a Building Permit (which is required by law), because the lack of rebar extending out of the footing would not pass an inspection. I’d ask to see the plans and the Building Permit.

I’d also be concerned that backfill has been placed against the footing without a waterproofing (and probably drainline) being installed. To keep the subsurface water from seeping through the wall, I recommend installing a minimum 4” drainline 6” below the top of the slab and a moisture barrier on the exterior side of the foundation wall and install a 2” thick plastic mesh on the wall to allow water to flow down to the perf pipe and extend down a minimum of 12” below the top of the slab. If dirt is allowed to be backfilled against the wall, the dirt could hold the moisture giving it a chance to seep through the wall and create tremendous pressure on the wall.

Once collected it needs to be disposed by extending a solid pipe over an embankment or in a collection well and pumped away.

  • 1
    I do, in fact, have a building permit. I also have sealed architectural drawings. The drawings show 2 #4 reinforcing rods in the block at 64" OC. No mention that they need to be anchored in the footing. Also worth noting that the pics clearly show a sump pit. There is definitely drain pipe under the stone. But none of that is what this question is about.
    – djs
    Jul 22, 2021 at 19:02
  • I guess I misinterpreted your questions. You asked, “is this footer going to work? If not, what needs to be done to fix it?” I gave you 4 items: 3 in a list plus the waterproofing issue. If you don’t correct all of them, you’ll have future problems. Exterior waterproofing membrane must extend over the footing. If you have a Permit, did the inspector approve the lack of rebar extending out of the footing? Do your sealed drawings show rebar extending out of the footing? Ask your architect or engineer that sealed the drawings if it’s ok to drill and embed the vertical steel into the footings?
    – Lee Sam
    Jul 22, 2021 at 21:43
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    Be sure to ask you architect is the wall was designed as a “retaining wall” or just a “regular wall”? Because the wall is 12” thick, I’m guessing he’ll say retaining wall, which requires rebar stubbed out of the footing. (The footing also needs to be wider to resist rotation.) If he says just a regular wall, because it’s resisted at the top and bottom, remind him the code doesn’t allow wood to support concrete…so the floor joists are not allowed to resist the top of the wall.
    – Lee Sam
    Jul 23, 2021 at 17:01
  • Also, you have the wrong type of rock backfill around your draintile. You want round rock so water can migrate through the rock, not crushed rock With “fines” in it that block the flow of water. Without rebar between the wall and foundation you are guaranteed a crack because of the pressure from the backfill and a guaranteed high water line because of the improper backfill. Oh, also check back after the first rainy season and update us how your project turned out. We like updates…it’s how we learn.
    – Lee Sam
    Jul 23, 2021 at 17:07
  • Not sure why it was downvoted. For any sort of wall, the starters should be embedded in the footing. Apr 6 at 14:18

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