A basement wall is simply a retaining wall. But it won't work properly unless all the components are in place. Leave out some of the components or do the work poorly, and you've created a continuing source of aggravation for the homeowner and a series of headaches for the builder. A poured-wall contractor can help the builder avoid these headaches by using two skills: observation and communication.


Site preparation and basement excavation are the first steps in basement construction. The excavator clears and strips the site, then surveyors stake out the foundation boundary. Before digging, make sure there are no utility lines in the area to be excavated. Give the excavator specific guidelines for the work to be done and explain what you expect the finished hole to look like. After the excavator is done, check the completed hole. Is the hole more than 6 feet deep? Is the finished work level? Is the soil of acceptable quality? All of these are important questions.


Lay out the footings by first setting one of the building lines using the surveyor's hubs. String a line from one hub to the other, then measure the offset distance and plumb down for the first corner of the foundation. Set the other corner on the line from that point. After the corners are marked, set the outside footing forms. After setting the outside forms, stakes for the inside forms are driven so outside edges of the side forms are 20 inches apart.