Wet basement requires a bit of research

Q. I have received four different bids to waterproof a damp and sometimes wet basement under my hillside house with prices ranging from $145 up to $1,250. Is a footing-drain system reliable over time? There are site problems, such as boulders here and there which could interfere with proposed trench digging. Could the gutters be the sole cause of the water? Elsie Harper Atlanta

A. Rain from downspouts could be the sole seepage cause, but it's not likely. In any event, force the water from the gutters and downspouts to quickly drain away from the building. Slope the grade away from the building where possible. Intercept surface water from above and divert it away from the house.

I'd approach this problem in the following way:

I'd retain a seasoned engineer or veteran builder to carefully investigate the entire problem at the site. If he were totally familiar with the actual conditions and water problems, he could then develop specific solutions.

From that familiarization at the sight, the engineer should recommend expert waterproofing ways, means, and materials.

Then, and not until then, I'd ask for bids from three or four reliable contractors familiar with waterproofing, and let them bid on this common set of plans and specifications. Thus, competitive bidding would be meaningful. Otherwise, each contractor bids his own concept and you, the owner, may be confused as to which offer to take.

Having accomplished all this palaver about bidding procedures, were that leaky basement mine, I'd telephone someone, such as Tony Baxter, about waterproofing inside bsement walls with a product equal to his Sealwall. He's at 36300 Lakeland Blvd., Eastlake, Ohio 44094. The phone number is: (216) 951-3445.

Baxter is a basement-waterproofing expert and might have some good news for you.

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