This post is part of a larger series that Beth and Ryan assembled on “16 things to consider when buying an older home”.

The two most common types of house foundation types found are concrete block and poured concrete. Concrete block is usually found on older homes (pre 1970s) while poured concrete has become the new standard.

If you’re considering a pre-construction home today, it’s likely poured concrete.

Concrete Block Foundation

As mentioned, concrete block foundations are in the majority of homes built before the 1970s. You can say it was a prevalent foundation type. Cinder blocks are capable of high compression strength. This means this foundation style can take a large amount of weight on its top. Cinder blocks are ready-made and available off the shelf from big box stores. The blocks are easy to store, and transport to a site. 

A drawback found in a cinder block wall foundation is, they are more likely to suffer issues like buckling and bowing because of the number of joints between blocks that can shift. Buckling and bowing are a result of either poor construction or underground lateral water pressure. Thus, repairing them can be quite expensive, depending on the extent of the damage.

Another draw back to concrete block foundation is that they are more prone to water leaks because of the number of joints between each block. The cores inside the blocks can also fill with water, saturate the blocks, and create dampness inside basements.

If you’re considering a house with a concrete block foundation, you may want to see what options exist for future renovations as well. Sometimes, this can be upgraded or replaced.

Poured Concrete Foundation

Poured concrete walls are a lot stronger than cinder block walls. They don’t have joints like the ones found between blocks. The only joint found in poured concrete basements is the cove joint. This is where the floor meets the wall, and the wall sits on top of the footing.

Poured concrete walls have excellent resistance to underground lateral pressure imposed by the soil and water. As poured wall do not feature joints like in a cinder block wall, and it is less prone to leak years after construction. There will be resistance against premature leaking or cracks.

During the construction phase, poured walls can pour onto any foundation. If uncertainty abounds during construction, it is the preferred method for last-minute changes. Poured concrete walls are not restricted to the same limitations as cinder blocks. Concrete can pour into any shape and size.

On the downside, poured cement walls can be more expensive than block walls when cement prep and production are far from the site. It is something to consider when building a home from scratch.

Which is better? Concrete block or poured concrete foundations?

Even though poured concrete foundations have become the new norm, this does not mean that concrete block foundation is something home buyers should stay clear of. Provided the foundation was constructed properly and there has been no significant damage, there is nothing to worry about.

Beth and Ryan always recommend a home inspection before purchasing, as this would help identify if there are any potential issues with the foundation. If you are looking for reputable home inspector, Beth and Ryan recommend Keith Langlois of Building Insights Inc and Mike Heeley of Heeley Home Inspections Inc.

If you have any additional questions, don’t hesitate to reach out to Beth and Ryan. They would be more than happy to answer all your questions!

Check out our Home Insurance Red Flag Checklist, to read about some other things to consider before purchasing a new home.