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Lake Basement

You may have noticed that it rained yesterday, a lot! All that water had to go somewhere. It sounds like basements were one of the preferred locations. The first conversation I had was with a woman while our cars were being serviced. She had water in the basement and was trying to figure out what to do next. I gave her the phone number for John’s Waterproofing. She was on the phone when I left.

We have installed the WaterGuard system in our current and previous home, our current remodel project and soon-to-be done rental property. There is more on their website but the basic idea is that by jack hammering out the perimeter of the basement and installing the system, the water is channeled to either the floor drain or sump pump and out of the basement. Once installed, the only evidence is a lip that you can then install framing over. Our basement used to have a river that ran from one end to the other when it rained. It is now carpeted and sheet rocked. They system does require some annual maintenance but hearing that sump pump kick on warms my heart.

The second conversation was with friends. They called too and set something up for next week with John’s (they were busy yesterday as you might imagine). The next call from them was a little more urgent. What started as seeping water through the floor of the basement had become a small fountain. When you walked on the floor, it forced even more water out of the hole. Our solution requires:

  • Five gallon bucket
  • Sledgehammer
  • Shovel
  • Sump pump (that fits inside of five gallon bucket)
  • Drill
  • A bag of gravel would be useful but requires digging a bigger hole

Sumppump
Basement2

Digger beware! Do you know where your sewer line is? How thick is your concrete slab? We can take no responsibility for how this works out in your situation! The method, at least in this case, and this is the second successful application is:

  • Break up the concrete enough so that you can dig a big enough hole to place the entire five gallon bucket in the hole. You may want a tarp to put the muddy wet water on
  • Dig hole
  • Drill holes in bottom of bucket
  • If hole is big enough, add gravel. This will help keep dirt out of the pump
  • Place bucket in hole, pump in bucket, run hose outside and plug in

Hopefully this will be a temporary fix until it can be done properly. The bucket took about 10 minutes to fill after it was inserted and the pump kicked on for the first time.
By the end of day, we’d referred three people and scheduled our own appoinment for our rental. Heavy rain is one advantage to looking at homes in the winter. Buyers can see whether the basement is dry or not.

7 Comments on “Lake Basement

  1. We referred client #4 to John’s last night at 8 pm. I bet they had a busy day. You see in listings sometimes “professionally waterproofed by Johns Waterproofing” so it will add value. And it certainly adds peace of mind knowing that your basement will stay dry and be solid living space for you and your family.

  2. Jenny-

    “You see in listings sometimes “professionally waterproofed by Johns Waterproofing” so it will add value.”

    I watched my neighbor “add value” to his home. He added air conditioning, and increased the price. I guess I should note that if all other factors are equal, a place with air condition is preferred to one without. The question I keep asking is how much did it add to the market value relative to the cost of installation. It appears that the improvement did add value, but less value than capital outlay, so he ended up net negative, by my measure. And it only gets worse if you consider the time value of money.

    Also if the cost of improvement is less than the increase in market value, then why don’t more sellers make the improvement prior to listing?

  3. “Also if the cost of improvement is less than the increase in market value, then why don’t more sellers make the improvement prior to listing?”

    You’re kidding, right? This assumes there’s some kind of exact science in selling, and that buyers make rational decisions. 1] You can never know if the cost of improvement is “less than an increase in market value” when the market is falling, like now. 2] There are dozens of other “improvements” (or rather, contractors who perform these improvement) that make this same claim. Why stop at the basement? Why not have the kitchen and bathroom updated, the wiring and plumbing re-done, a tankless water heater put in? Radiant heat coils installed in the floor? Solar panels installed?

  4. Tiff-

    There are some improvements that can be supported. I did some statistical research using the City of Seattle’s GIS system. The area was West Seattle (zip code 98126), and I found that the properties with more than a single bath sold for considerably more than those with just the one bath. Since I had the data, the quantification of the value was not that difficult, and in fact there was true economic value in adding an additional bathroom. The expected increase in sales price on a risk adjusted basis was much greater than the cost of the improvement.

    Part of project justification and selection is looking at the financial implications. As a rational player, I want to make sure that I am creating economic value, as measured by the increase in final sales price (value added) less cost.

    By the way, consumer behavior and purchasing decision making is another factor that I consider. Some buyers are rational, but others are not. Certainly I appreciate that there is opportunity in both markets. In any event, understanding the consumer is very important.

  5. Thanks for the segue into tomorrow’s post: cost versus value. NAR just released their annual report. What you will find is that most projects do not yield a positive cash return- you need to live and enjoy your improvements as well as a cash return in many cases to come out ahead.

    If you spend $1000 (cost) and the increase is $500 in value, you have added value. Jenny didn’t mention a rate of return for waterproofing.

    What is the value difference between six inches of standing water in the basement versus dry concrete?

  6. We both know that the term ‘value’ is vague. There is market value, economic value, personal value, book value, initial cost, replacement value, insurable value, appraised value, loan value, rental value, tax assessed value, and so on.

    Then there are those “improvements” that actually detract from the market value. One example that you gave was paint, and you included photos in a post.

    That being said, as a buyer I would love to pay 50 cents on the dollar for an improvement that I desire.

  7. Your blog is very informative. However, there are those “improvements” that actually detract from the market value.You can never know if the cost of improvement is “less than an increase in market value” when the market is falling, like now.

    Nice Topic! Best regard!

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