Canadian Contractor

Alec Caldwell   

Are builders gambling with residential concrete foundations?

Canadian Contractor Commercial Liability Product risk

The quality of concrete being poured on your jobsite is not something you can take for granted.

Concrete being poured on industrial or commercial jobs has to be tested to make sure it complies with current regulations. Yet it seems it’s not mandatory in all jurisdictions to test it when it comes to residential new homes. Without testing, many builders risk being found liable later, especially if the quality of the product delivered in good faith by the ready mix supplier was faulty. Testing insures that the material specified and bought is the same material delivered to the job site.

It doesn’t cost builders a lot of money to have their delivered concrete tested and it could well be worth the effort, yet it seems many builders choose not to bother and simply gamble, hoping the concrete reaches the required curing rate after 28 days. It seems the ideal time to pour concrete is when temperatures are between 50°F and 75°F.

Gambling on poured concrete quality could well backfire as shown in the Eastern Ontario Cement Case. This involved homeowners purchasing their homes in Eastern Ontario and Quebec between 1986 and 1987. In the final judgment in 2001, around 15 years after the filing of suits by the 139 homeowners involved, the court upheld the trial decision favoring the homeowners.


In this landmark case, the homeowners encountered  problems with their foundations. Their basement walls started growing a white powder called efflorescence. The concrete started deteriorating and disintegrating, water leaked into the basements and black mold grew on the walls.

Finally, it was agreed the only viable solution to fix the foundation problems was to completely remove and replacement them at a cost then of $100,000-plus for each house. At today’s rate with inflation from 2001 and 2012 this amounts to $123,000-plus for each house.

Is it worth the gamble? Get your concrete tested and save yourself a massive liability.

CARAHS is a not for profit association Toll Free 1-866-366-2930 


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