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Is it normal to have unfinished basement walls fully covered by insulation?

Is it normal to have unfinished basement walls fully covered by insulation?

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Old 09-15-20, 08:08 PM
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Is it normal to have unfinished basement walls fully covered by insulation?

Not sure if this is the best subforum, but here goes:

My wife and I are close to buying a new construction home. The house has a HERS rating for efficiency. The basement is unfinished, but the walls are fully covered by insulation that has been nailed into the foundation itself. Is this normal to improve efficiency or are they hiding something? I fear the foundation walls are cracked because of land movement and we have no way of knowing.

They claim the insulation is for HERS, but I have no idea if that's the truth.
 
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Old 09-16-20, 04:16 AM
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What would you do if the basement walls were finished? If I has concerns about the wall integrity, I would try to negotiate with the owner to have the insulation removed, let me inspect the foundation, and install new insulation all at my expense. If he doesn't agree, walk.
 
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Old 09-16-20, 04:47 AM
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It's very common. In many cases only the section of basement at or above ground level is insulated. If this is a brand new home, many states require a multi-year guarantee or warranty from the builder for construction flaws.
 
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Old 09-16-20, 04:53 AM
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The entire foundation is insulated above and below ground level. Does that strike you as odd?
 
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Old 09-16-20, 05:29 AM
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NO. That is the current trend. The only disadvantage is that sooner or later cracks in the foundation walls may occur and might actually leak. You will not be able to see them until after water saturates the insulation. A lot depends on the soil conditions and the water shedding for your location. You may never get a crack in the foundation, but then again it's not uncommon if it happens (and most likely after any warranty has expired). If it's new construction, lots of settling will occur. This is normal. One thing to help prevent any water leaking into basement in the event of a minor crack is to make sure your outside yard or soil is slopped away from the foundation. You may notice that it might settle after several years. That's when you buy soil to maintain that slope away from foundation. OR you may never have a problem. I'm not trying scare you, just making you aware that this a possibility and not unusual. Welcome to home ownership. It's always something!
 
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Old 09-16-20, 05:52 AM
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As Norm stated, this is perfectly normal and is required on a new home in most places. If the walls were studded and finished with drywall you couldn't inspect the foundation walls either. Your being paranoid for no reason.
 
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Old 09-16-20, 06:28 AM
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Thanks for all the advice! We will keep the basement unfinished for several years and we will inspect it after heavy rain to see if the insulation is wet or not. Once we have confidence the foundation doesn't have moisture problems, we'll finish it.

There is a hill about 30-40 feet behind the house but the house itself is perched on a higher spot with a very minor grade away from it in each direction. Not sure if that's enough, but we figure it's good.
 
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Old 09-16-20, 06:51 AM
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As long as it's graded away from the foundation. Even a small amount is OK.
 
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Old 09-16-20, 07:45 AM
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Originally Posted by nycdude
There is a hill about 30-40 feet behind the house but the house itself is perched on a higher spot with a very minor grade away from it in each direction. Not sure if that's enough, but we figure it's good.
As long as it's graded away from the foundation. Even a small amount is OK.
Eh, not necessarily.
Could be a problem with melting snow. Remember winter 1992? The Baltimore to Boston corridor got 3-4 feet of drifting snow, followed a freezing rain, and then the next day was 60 degree weather with torrential downpours.
In Southeast Pennsylvania with the snowdrifts iced over, the rain ran OVER the ice and all those shoveled walkways became drain routes right back to the house, and often right into the basement.

I'm a Realtor, for the next 10 years, almost every seller-property-disclosure would have the question "ever had water in the basement" and people would just write in "1992"
 

Last edited by Hal_S; 09-16-20 at 08:08 AM.
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Old 09-16-20, 08:12 AM
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You can't live in bubble. Yes the possibility is there. So what do you do about it? Not much. For all intents and purposes, any grade away from the house foundation is better than none.
Heck, a power outage can cause a sump pit to over flow. It happened just before I signed the papers for my house. Ever have water in the basement. Yes.
 
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Old 09-16-20, 11:12 AM
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You can't live in bubble. Yes the possibility is there.
Oh, I agree. You can't prepare for everything.
My sister & brother-in-law refinished their basement a few years before the 2011 Halloween Nor'easter; power outage, no sump pump, basement flooded. They had it re-done about 6 months later.
They added a backup Venturi jet-pump powered by the public water, if the power goes out, gravity/pressure/velocity power the pump off water pressure. Installer didn't notice a burr of PVC in the line, so when hurricane Sandy hit, they lost power, the jet pump turned on, sucked in the PVC burr and failed, and the basement flooded again.
 
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Old 09-17-20, 08:42 AM
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Check to see if building codes require that certain kinds of insulation be covered with wall finishing or paneling and that you are aware of buying a house without that requirement satisfied and/or negotiate with the seller to have any such deficiencies correcting.
 
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