When we decided to purchase this home, one of the perks was the fact that it has a basement. Yes, it’s unfinished, but we loved the idea of finishing it someday and expanding the livable space of the house even more by the time the kids are older and have their buddies over to hang out. For now, we’re fine with using it for storage, and we love that there’s already a workshop space down there.
It’s a daylight basement with a door leading outside, and we knew there was so much potential for what we could do down there. (Ignore the insulation explosion happening in the photo.)
I’ve mentioned that this house was a foreclosure, and often with foreclosures there are no disclosures from the seller. I (politely) interrogated the neighbors about any issues with the house, and the bank was also somewhat forthcoming with the fact that the basement had had flooding issues this past year with all the rain we’ve had in Georgia. They supposedly had done a lot of work to remedy the situation, so we thought the problem had mostly been solved. We got a thorough inspection and did find out that their half-hearted attempt at a repair hadn’t really solved the problem at all, and we knew that the wall with the window wasn’t up to code and would probably need repaired since water was still coming in a little bit. We could handle that.
Our closing date got delayed several times due to various issues with documentation, etc., on the bank’s end, and during that time, the basement flooded. Luckily, they told us about it, and we were able to get an estimate from a company to determine what exactly it would take to truly remedy the problem. Well folks, it was going to cost a pretty penny for sure. It turns out that the issues were far worse than we (or our inspector) realized. Thankfully, the closing delays worked to our advantage since we found out about this problem in time to do some negotiating, and we worked out a deal that allowed us to get a little more money toward costs of repairs.
Ultimately, what needed to happen in order to fully waterproof the basement was that the studded wall needed to be replaced with a concrete wall, and drains needed to be installed under the floor leading out to the street. We needed vapor barriers on the walls too, and all of this is very costly. However, if you have a basement and you actually want to use it and ensure that it doesn’t flood, it must be waterproofed. We opted to do what was absolutely necessary at the immediate time, which was replacing the wall and having drains installed, mainly addressing the front and side walls. We will waterproof the rest of the basement with the vapor barriers and drains along the back and other side wall, etc., to ensure no moisture gets in at all when we are ready to finish it down there. For now, we just need the water to stay out so that we can get rid of any mold down there and actually have usable space. We were told that since we had so much rain last year, the water table has risen and many homes in our neighborhood have had similar problems this year. Our home was built in 1981, and as far as we know none of the houses around us have a history of problems like this until now. This is a recent issue, but I’m glad we are addressing it right off the bat and hopefully can fix it once and for all.
The crew was here for 3 days. In order to replace the wall, they had to support the house while they knocked out the old studded wall and replaced it with concrete.
Here is what it looked like at the end of Day 1.
Those poles are holding up the house since the studs had to be removed to make room for the concrete wall to replace it.
A ditch was carved in the floor along the walls to allow for the drains to be installed.
Here it is at the end of Day 2 (below). The drain has been installed inside the carved-out ditch in the floor, new concrete has been poured over it, and the cement wall has been started. The vapor barriers have been installed on the front and side wall. (We’ll add them to the back and other side wall later on.)
And at the end of Day 3:
They dug a small ditch in the yard leading from the basement out to the street and installed the drain, then covered it back up. They even notched out a piece of the curb where the drain comes out at the street. The rest of the interior work will be up to us to finish when we are ready.
If you ever run into similar basement problems or if you are looking into having your basement waterproofed, here is my advice:
- As with any home repair, get estimates from multiple companies for comparison.
- Check sites like Kudzu, Angie’s List, Yelp, Porch.com, etc. for reviews.
- Make sure the contractor you use provides a lifetime, transferable warranty. This protects you in case of future problems and can also be transferred to a buyer if you ever sell your home.
- Don’t be afraid to ask for references. Many times, the company will provide them upfront without you having to ask. We received a complete list of phone numbers from people in our neighborhood who had used this company and we could call to ask about their experience if we wanted to.
- Do not finish your basement without having it properly waterproofed! This situation would have been so much worse if we had already finished it down there and had all of our belongings ruined in a flood. It’s also important to know that most standard home owner’s insurance policies do not cover flooding, so if your basement floods then you’re on your own in covering the damages.
Keep in mind that your waterproofing solution may be different than ours depending on various factors like what type of basement you have and whether or not it is totally below grade.
We don’t plan on finishing the basement for a few years, but I do plan on using the workshop space and we’ll use the rest for storage for the time being.
Have you dealt with basement waterproofing or flooding issues? What was your experience like?
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