Preserved Wood Foundations in Edmonton?


I ran into one of these again on Alberta Avenue this morning. A 1990’s infill, advertised as having a concrete foundation, looked to be preserved wood. Which can be unfortunate for buyers, as homes with wood foundations are a lot harder to sell, and sell for a lot less money than their concrete counterparts.

So, here is the how and why of persevered wood foundations as I have experienced them as a half busy real estate agent in Edmonton. 

These homes are typically built in the 80’s, 90’s and early 2000’s. I have seen them in infill communities like Westmount, Alberta Avenue, and Ritchie but have also encountered them in 80s built area’s in West Edmonton and Millwood’s. Wood is simply used as a cost-effective replacement to concrete with a more limited lifespan, but every once and a while, a home with wood foundation is bought and sold as a home with a concrete foundation repeatedly.  Here is how to avoid paying for something you did not bargain for.  

How to spot a wood foundation that may be listed as concrete on the first viewing?

Every square inch of the basement walls will be finished, and it is impossible to see concrete or wall type anywhere, even in the utility room, laundry room, or under the stairs. This does not include the basement floor, the floor can be concrete and often is, this is not your foundation. Obviously, meticulously covered basement walls with concrete floors do not denote wood foundations but coupled with build year I become curious.  This morning I made mention of this to a buyer and suggested we look outside and give the lower parging a little tap with our boots, wooded foundation homes will be hollow. Sure enough, the walls are hollow, concrete will be solid.  Now this is not 100%, foundations, especially 90’s bi-level’s can be “short” foundations causing hollowness at the base of the exterior wall. But, if I’m buying, I’m definitely seeking out a space to physically touch, and observe concrete on a wall in the basement. A seller can be asked to open a piece of drywall in the laundry or utility room, they don’t have to agree but can be asked. Not a whole lot of people want to discover they bought a home with a wood foundation.  Measuring the stud centers in the basement can be an indicator as well, wooden foundations will have closer (12”)  reinforced centers for structural purposes, the where 2 x 4’s centered merely for hanging drywall can and will be spaced further apart to save on the cost of building material.

At the end of the day a large part of an agents job is to bridge the gap of knowledge and expertise between Buyers and Sellers so equitable transactions can transpire. That is the aim of this blog.

Thank you for taking the time to read, If you have any questions or feedback, I’d love to hear from you.

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