Q&A / 

Missing Keyway and Vertical Rebar in Footer

Quick Column Summary:

  • Question a contractor about what he did/did not do
  • Have great plans and specifications
  • Keyways and steel rods in foundation

Jonathan Smith is building a new home in Akron, OH. He went to look at the new footers and, well, allow him to tell you:

"I'm building a new house, my contractor just completed the 8'' x 20'' concrete footers last week. And I could see some nails and rebars in the concrete. But I didn't see any keyways nor vertical rebars on the footers.

I've checked out your article about foundation footers and the Concrete Footer Part 3 Video. I've also talked to a builder friend, from his perspective, he thought keyways are almost totally worthless from a structural standpoint.

So my question is should I ask my contractor about this and ask them why didn't put keyways and vertical rebars to tie the foundation wall to the footers? I don't want to hear that they are taking shortcuts. The photo below shows my footer, the top photo, and the bottom one is another job happening near my new home."

Jonathan's footer is the top photo. Another job has got a few pieces of vertical steel. Photo credit: Jonathan Smith

Jonathan's footer is the top photo. Another job has got a few pieces of vertical steel. Photo credit: Jonathan Smith

Here's my reply to Jonathan:

Well, your issue is yet another great example of what happens when you sign a building contract that has low-quality plans and poor or non-existent written specifications.

If you had great plans with a Foundation Plan that had great cross sections of the footer and foundation and details, you'd see the steel that supposed to be there.

My guess is you have very basic plans and written specifications that are so thin if you hold them up to a light you could see through them. If you want to see some great specifications, look at my model ones.

Keyways are a nice feature to have if you don't have a full slab that is poured on the inside of the foundation walls. The slab prevents the bottom of the foundation walls from kicking in. A keyway with steel rods sticking up will help do that in the absence of a full slab.

It's useless to ask the builder anything at this point. He'll just make it up or tell you what you want to hear.

In the future, you must have EXCELLENT plans and specifications. Too bad you didn't know about my new home super package deal that would have given you all sorts of protection going into this project.



15 Responses to Missing Keyway and Vertical Rebar in Footer

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *