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I live in Duluth, Minnesota. As stated, I am putting a new foundation on my house. When the contractor was excavating, they hit water. They are constantly pumping this water out. I now have 2 new walls already done, and am working on the third.

I am concerned about the amount of water. I do have a sump pump. My contractor told me my drain tiles were not working at all and this water has been there for a long time, but this water keeps filling up. I have had the inspector there of course when the footings were poured, and he seems like he is OK with this.

I am concerned. Is this OK?

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    Suggested reading: Mr. Blandings Builds His Dream House – Ecnerwal Oct 30 '14 at 14:58
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It all depends on what type of foundation it is, i.e. cement pad, basement, crawl space?

  • Was there water present when the footers were being poured?
  • Is there a crawl space or basement?
  • How deep are the footers?
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Since it is constantly filling, then it sounds like you either have a really high water table, or there is a natural spring nearby. Either way, you have a big problem on your hands.

You should find the source of the water and mitigate it before doing any further construction. They ran into this problem on one of the homes they were building on Hometime and they found that the nearby wetlands was causing their problem. They had to install multiple parallel French drains to bring the water away from the foundation. It was a huge job that set them back several weeks.

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tl;dr: If the inspector is happy and calls it normal, stop worrying.

There is always going to be some ground water, and any of that above the bottom of your excavation will tend to flow into the excavation since that's its easiest route. That doesn't mean there's going to be enough pressure behind it to bother the foundation once you have it completed, especially if the foundation winds up wrapped to further discourage water infiltration.

Some moisture will always get through; that's part of why basements tend to be damp and why so many of us have dehumidifiers in our basements. But as long as that's only a small amount, evaporating immediately, that should be the only issue.

  • Maybe you should have taken the time to read it. "They are constantly pumping this water out" does not match with "a small amount, evaporating immediately". – Myles Oct 30 '14 at 17:22
  • Maybe you should reread my note: After the basement has been constructed appropriately, "constantly pumping this water out" is likely to become "a small amount, evaporating immediately". The fact that there is water above the basement floor is not automatically a problem; this will often be true in any area that gets significant rains, and houses are designed to deal with it. If this was strictly a dug-out root cellar the answer would be somewhat different; since it isn't, I'm inclined to believe the inspector knows his job and to agree with him. YMMV. – keshlam Oct 30 '14 at 22:29
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    The building code specifies the worst building that can be legally constructed. A building inspector can only require the building to meet code. An inspector cannot require quality design or construction. In addition, the context of the contractor/inspector relationship is longer term than that of the homeowner/inspector. – ben rudgers Oct 31 '14 at 4:11
  • Granted. However, the inspector serves at the pleasure of the town, and if s/he wants to retain that position there's a limit on how much stupidity will get by. Depending on HOW MUCH water is HOW CONSTANTLY being pumped out, this really may not be a problem. If it is -- well, you can fill it back in and build on slab without a basement, or you can try to unload the property with this known issue on someone else, or you can design the house to deal with it (which may or may not involve a sump pump). If other houses nearby have basements, it is probably solvable. – keshlam Oct 31 '14 at 15:18

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