Waterproofing: What to Expect
August 1, 2012 6:46 PM   Subscribe

Waterproofing: we just got an estimate for our basement. What's best for us, and is this a good estimate?

We've had water problems in our basement since we moved in (this past February). There is a makeshift French drain that runs through the basement and gets clogged with mud, so water doesn't make it to our sump pump well. There is a crack in the foundation by the furnace, and water comes in from there. We have a 167 linear foot house, which is how they calculate price apparently. It's usually very damp down there and we have 2 dehumidifiers going at all time. It is a fieldstone foundation, and the house is over 100 years old.

The gutters are in good shape. The downspouts are old but aren't dribbling water on the ground. There is no plant life near the house and concrete angled away on all sides. We are at higher altitude than normal and not in risk of flooding. We've noticed that the water problems are worse after sudden, heavy rains.

We had a waterproof company representative come out today to give us an estimate, which ended up being around $25,000. This included a lifetime warranty free of any water problems. The estimate included: digging around the house perimeter to below the frost line, repairing exterior cracks, then applying waterproofing and a plastic barrier to the excavated foundation, placing exterior drainage pipe and gravel to cover it, placing an interior drainage system under the basement floor around the house perimeter, repairing interior cracks and sealing the walls with a custom plastic, adding two sump pumps with backups, and a dehumidifier/air filtration system.

The company (EverDry) has been around for about 30 years and are pretty established in the area. Is this a reasonable price for what we are receiving? I know nothing of home structure and waterproofing. What were your experiences? What should we look out for?

Homeowners of Metafilter, please share your advice! Thanks in advance.
posted by amicamentis to Home & Garden (8 answers total)
I had a persistent water problem in my last house. It was a smaller house (100 linear feet of foundation) and I got quotes of around $7k just to put in drain tile and a sump on the inside OR the outside of the house, with no crack repair or waterproofing membrane. Adjusting for the size of your house and the fact that they want to do both the inside and the outside, $25K doesn't sound far off at all.

Your contractor is planning on throwing his entire arsenal at your problem. What's your goal here? Do you need a perfectly dry basement, or just less bad than it is now? Have you talked to any other contractors to see whether they assess the problem the same way?
posted by jon1270 at 7:17 PM on August 1, 2012

What does lifetime warranty mean? As long as you own the home, or is it transferable for any period of time? The real question is your goals. Based on what you say, I'd prioritize the exterior work. Also, depending on your climate consider having them insulate on the exterior while it is excavated.
posted by meinvt at 7:31 PM on August 1, 2012

That absolutely sounds reasonable. The low-end quote to install new drain tile and a new sump pump crock in my own small basement was about $6K.
posted by thomas j wise at 7:45 PM on August 1, 2012

Ever-Dry is a regional waterproofer with franchises around the midwest. We've got them here a few hours to your southwest.

I think that's reasonable. To echo jon1270, you are getting the full package there, and you will have a dry basement that you might even turn into finished living area when you're done.

For reference, I had a very basic, outside-only, tar, plastic sheeting, and french drain installation along about 20 feet of poured concrete foundation in a 75-year-old house, and that was $2500.

One thing to also think about is the condition of any basement windows. After all that waterproofing it was determined that an old single-pane window was the culprit. Fortunately glass block windows are cheap and quick to have installed.
posted by OHSnap at 10:51 PM on August 1, 2012

Be careful, excavating a fieldstone foundation can be very dangerous. They usually cannot stand unsupported. What your contractor is recommending is standard fare for a block or poured foundation. If I were you I would.
1. Redo the interior drainage and sump system.
2. Spray the interior foundation walls with a closed cell foam insulation.
3. replace all the windows with double paned vinyl windows.
posted by Gungho at 5:58 AM on August 2, 2012 [1 favorite]

Thanks for the comments, everyone! It definitely makes me feel better about the process. The warranty is transferable if we sell the house. We live in Pittsburgh, so wet and cold in the winter.
posted by amicamentis at 6:26 AM on August 2, 2012

I got an estimate for $17,000 from Everdry in Toledo. I very much disliked them - they gave me a whole sales talk, broke chips off the wall to show me the mold (which I knew was there, I knew perfectly well I'd ignored the problem for years), and then called me incessantly from different phone numbers with special offers, discounts because they were in the neighborhood and had leftover materials, and other stories I just wasn't able to believe.

I got several more estimates, and ended up having my basement done for about $4,000. The local contractor I picked did the inside only, and a lifetime warranty was included. That was over 5 years ago, and I've had no trouble since.

Your problem is different from mine, but I would strongly recommend talking to as many contractors as you can stand. Even the most expensive legitimate one told me that doing work on both the inside and outside was overkill.
posted by still_wears_a_hat at 2:23 PM on August 2, 2012

Also, I suggest Googling "everdry bad reviews".
posted by still_wears_a_hat at 2:26 PM on August 2, 2012

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