Tuesday, March 11, 2008


So the feller came over and he had the slick binder I mentioned earlier, with the pics of the scary damage to the house and all, and he recommended perimeters dug all around the crawl spaces and sorta fake footers put in under the foundation walls and this patented membrane laid down and the pipes and the gravel and all, and that would be $24,000 thank you very much.

So we said sure sure we’ll let you know thanks and they called back and said well maybe we could do it cheaper and we’ll send the other guy out to take a quick look and let you know and I said yeah sure why not but then I was exhausted next day and canceled.

So the fellow from this other place, an outside place, came out to the house in the pouring rain and he went downstairs and looked and said hmm, and then we went outside in our rain gear and he stood in one of my favorite spots, and he described an arc—my favorite arc—and said something like we’d dig a curtain drain here, route it all around the house and down the driveway. I’ll come back with a laser to measure, but I think we can tilt everything appropriately. That’ll catch the water before it even gets to your cellar. I sure liked the sound of that and only moaned softly when he said, making sure I understood, of course you’re into an expensive job, more than ten, probably closer to twenty.

So the other other place, another one of these inside places, called and maybe they’ll come around Thursday and offer some wisdom and a five-figure estimate, but the funny thing about it all is that they all each have their prescribed method, their product.

In my line of work we call these “solutions,” but it seems that businesses basically put their service offerings into pre-cast products, and they’ll say that a product fits your need no matter your need. I could see, as a marketing guy, that the slick binder could be used to convince any homeowner that they needed whatever product these guys had on offer, and if the price for the product seemed too high they could just come back with another allegedly customized solution that was actually just, for them, the Regular instead of the De-luxe.

I find that troubling, because my house and my problems are unique, despite the Google hits that find my posts, despite the presence of companies conceived to make money off problems like mine, and I want the solution that involves both the standing out in the rain looking at the lay of the land AND the diagrams of how water interacts with a foundation and what kind of pump to get—and for the privilege of delivering a five figure estimate I want the thing drawn up special for my house with some kind of stamp on it and I want hefty guarantees.

And I suppose, if anyone's offering, that I want advice on how to refinance a mortgage and not get screwed there, either.


wcs said...

The answer: yes.

The question: Is this too much to ask?

Bon courage.

chrissoup said...

Fourteen years ago, on the advice of a soils engineer, we did the membrane and pipes and gravel thing (known in these parts as a French drain), plus a sump pump outside the foundation where the pipes terminate. It worked. The area under our house is dry, and the pump goes on whenever it rains.

We hired the soils engineer on the advice of our architect, who really didn't like the water under our house and the texture of the soil under a patio slab. (I'm a friend of wcs)

evenfurtherupstate said...

$24,000 to keep your house dry seems reasonable compared to, say, spending $4,300 for an hour or two with "Kristen."

Anonymous said...

I had some (expensive) foundation work on my house and I'd highly recommend you call a structural engineer. One who will charge you $1000 or so for the privledge of talking to him and drawing you up a solution for your house. It's worth it. Our guy saved us money in the end.

Anonymous said...

Sorry, just read chrissoup's comment. A soils enginner might be the thing in your neck of the woods. But talk to an engineer, not a company pushing a product.

Anonymous said...

If you have water in your crawlspace you need to address it. You can either dig a trench and grade it to a sump pit, or dig a trench, put in a drain tile to a sump. This will only route the water to one spot and remove it from your home. Adding a plastic membrane will prevent water vapor from rising up from the dirt floor and rotting your floor joists and saturating your insulation. There are several different variations and quality of products to accomplish the same goal of removing the water and stopping water vapor. If you haven't guessed I work for a waterproofing company and see issues such as yours everyday. My company has been around since 1939 and waterproofed thousands of crawlspaces. The basics of any crawlspace water problems are the same - route the water to a sump, block the water vapor, and seal off the vents to lower relative humidity. While your home will have some individual characteristics, we don't use a different product for each crawlspace...we use what works and has worked for 70 years.

Bill Braine said...

Thank you!