Build a wall to close off basement from house?

emoreeJuly 3, 2014

Hi everyone! This is super long, I apologize, I wanted to give enough background info, though. My husband and I will likely be selling our house in two or three years, and we're trying to figure out what would be the best use of our (very limited) house renovation budget.

It's an old house that "officially" was built in 1926 but my husband found out that our town didn't start keeping building records until 1926 so any house older than that was just listed as "built in 1926" (unless of course it was a historically important house). It's a one-story victorian bungalow that has a lot of the original, wonderful features (11' ceilings, huge original 8' windows, wood storm windows, floor to ceiling butler's pantry, it has old vinyl siding but they did a great job keeping most of the original trim, nice landscaping).

We've done a lot of updating-- removed all the wallpaper, repaired the plaster walls, painted with high quality paint, uncovered and refinished the floors, renovated the kitchen (to our taste, likely won't be to most people's), gutted the bathroom (refinished the claw foot tub, added vinyl plank floor since subfloor was too warped to use anything stiff like hardwood which is what we wanted, added some storage, new toilet and sink and ceiling fan that actually vents out the roof), new duel fuel furnace and high efficiency air conditioner, we're removing the fish pond tomorrow (eye sore and electrical fire hazard), updated the electrical, fixed structural damage from termites, and i'm sure other things I'm not thinking of.

The biggest remaining problem with our house is the basement. It's wet, it smells, it makes the house smell. My husband has been working on getting the water away from the house and he's made a big improvement, but we found out a few days ago that the majority of the problem is from a horribly constructed deck that looks like it was built over the basement with NO type of ceiling ***except for some foam board insulation****!! I kid you not, I still can't believe it. The deck apparently is built over an open hole ***which is our basement***. They screwed the foam insulation to the wood supports, and then used that stupid expanding foam to "seal" around the edges. That's where the water pours in down the wall when it rains hard. So angry about that, but anyway. Live and learn.

Tearing up the deck and replacing it with god knows what is not really an option since we have very little equity in the house and have spent a lot already. So, we're considering having french drains put in to further help move water away from the house. The big thing we're also considering is building a wall to block off the basement from the rest of the house.

Right now the basement stairs come up into our laundry room, which is basically a closed-in, uninsulated (but with a central air/heat vent) porch that looks like it was added in the 70's or so. The old siding (asbestos shingle? covering the original wood siding) is still there, showing it used to be the exterior of the house. There is a door that goes outside (oh yeah, we had to replace the rotting wood door that was there, $800 for a basic steel exterior door thanks very much...). There is no door at the bottom of the stairs, the basement is completely open to the laundry room. There is a door in the laundry room that separates it from the kitchen, but it's just a very thin old wood porch door. Every time I open the door into the laundry room it pulls air up from the basement into our house.

I posted pictures here to help visualize:

What we're thinking of doing is turning that half wall into an actual wall that will completely cut off the laundry room from the basement stairs. That would mean that the only way to get into the basement would be from outside. The kitchen door (that goes to the backyard) is right there, so it's not like it would be a long walk to get there, but I'm wondering if not having interior access to the basement will reduce the value of our house. We don't have interior access to the attic, either (have to climb a ladder and squeeze through a tiny window!).

While we're building the wall we were thinking of having a toilet and small sink installed to turn the laundry room into a half bath. It should be pretty inexpensive since all the plumbing is right there, including the waste line. So that, at least, would add value since we currently only have one bath (and 2 bedrooms). We'd also have the benefit of having a better insulated laundry room that doesn't smell bad.

What do you think? Will it be a bad thing to not have interior access to the basement, even though we'd be adding a half bath at the same time?

Here is a link that might be useful: Pictures of laundry room

Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

I do think it would be frustrating not to have interior access to the basement--we have that situation now, and it's one of the things I'd most like to change about our house. We are also in the process of having french drains put in, and just be aware that properly installed french drains are very expensive. Much more than a deck replacement where we live, but YMMV if you're in an area with cheaper labor. If the goal is to protect the basement of a home against water, they need to be dug down below the level of the basement floor, which can be quite involved depending on your lot.

Given that you will need to disclose the issues with the moisture and the deck to any potential buyer, I would probably not spend the money on a partial fix--I'd either do it all (replace deck to eliminate source, install drainage) or just live with it until you sell. Sealing off the laundry room, while mitigating the effects of the moisture, is really just cosmetic patching of the problem, so it doesn't seem like it makes sense to spend money on unless you're just doing it for your own benefit while you live there because the smell is too much.

Do you have code restrictions to worry about in your town that adding the half bath might trigger? If so, I wouldn't open that can of worms. If not, it seems like it could be worth having if there's space to comfortably accommodate it, but again, I'd spend the money on the deck and drainage before I'd add the half bath, so if you really don't have much budget to work with, I probably wouldn't put it there. It's the least fun kind of work because you don't get much out of it on a day-to-day basis, but the type of problem that is going to scare some buyers and that you will need to disclose if you don't correct it. Good luck with the decisions!

    Bookmark   July 3, 2014 at 1:48AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

The problem around here is getting contractors who actually want to work. They're not very expensive, necessarily, but they don't return calls, miss appts, end up not sending a quote, etc. I haven't had anyone out to look at the deck because I dread all the phone calls and wasted time it will require. We have a good plumber and someone who could frame a wall, which makes the wall option much more attractive. I totally see what you're saying, though.

How would someone even fix the deck problem. If they remove the deck, then it's going to be a big open hole right into our basement (it's this weird, dank little room, like a root cellar kind of). Would the room have to be filled with concrete or something so that we could build a deck or patio on top? It boggles my mind they made it like that.

I don't know about code restrictions for a half bath. It seems very lax here, I looked on the city website and they just mentioned a few permits but no actual regulations. Maybe they're just not on the website, though.

Thank you for your input! Not necessarily what I wanted to hear, but you make good points. :)

    Bookmark   July 3, 2014 at 2:44AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Actually, I should mention that the basement isn't the only big problem, the roof is on its last legs. This house is the gift that keeps on giving! So, that's something else to consider. We definitely can't afford a new roof (one quote we got was $15,000 which may be ridiculously inflated but it scared me off from getting anymore quotes). They also tried to sell me on having my insurance "pay for it". Yeah, nice that they don't mention that once you file a claim you are obligated to get the problem fixed whether or not the insurance covers it. Glad I found that out before I went through with it. Ugh.

    Bookmark   July 3, 2014 at 2:53AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

I wouldn't bother with the 1/2 bath or the wall. I think there are bigger issues to tackle with this house.

I'm still trying to understand how a basement ends up without a ceiling and how that went unnoticed when you purchased the house.

Is this actually an old root cellar or storm shelter connected to the house and the doors or whatever were removed? Is there not a way to close off this area from the rest of the underground areas? What about a heavy door at the bottom of what appears to be stairs in the laundry room? What is under the rest of the house?

Is there some reason the "hole" could not just be filled in and any equipment relocated?

This post was edited by rrah on Thu, Jul 3, 14 at 6:52

    Bookmark   July 3, 2014 at 6:50AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

I'm guessing the basement is a dirt floor basement? So not anything you would ever try to finish and make a playroom out of? If it's dirt floor, almost unusable space, then I don't think interior access is a big issue. But like others have pointed out, I think getting the water out of the basement and fixing the roof are bigger issues that need to be dealt with. It's also a good time to look at how much those things would cost versus the increase in worth to your house. If your planning on selling in 2-3 years, is it worth selling now, as is, and cut your losses before they increase?

    Bookmark   July 3, 2014 at 7:34AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

You really need to fix the real problem and not worry about side issues that do nothing to address the problem of water entering the basement. Fix the water infiltration first, and then worry about adding a half bath. Buyers will not buy a home that has a wet basement, unless you give it away.
Use a credit card if you have to, and then pay it off at closing. You will save money in the long haul.

    Bookmark   July 3, 2014 at 7:40AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

The foundation of the house is brick and most of the basement is a dirt crawl space with very low clearance. About 500 sqft or so is dug out basement with a concrete (old) floor, which is where the furnace and hot water heater are. Our house is almost 2000sq ft, so it is very unlikely that anyone would dig out the crawlspace and finish the basement to make it useable. It would also be pointless to dig it out on the inside without also excavating on the outside and waterproofing the brick, since water would naturally continue to infiltrate.

I should say that the basement never floods and is only damp in a few places on the concrete, thanks to the sump pump getting the worst of it out. Also, this kind of basement is common where we are (unfinished, old, damp). I posted about it on our local forum to get advice and all of the responses were basically "it is what you get with an old house". No one was horrified or surprised.

That's a good question about closing off that room in the basement. It's not possible because it's an awkward small space with brick walls. The water would continue to come in and would seep under the door to get to the sump pump, making short work of any wood door framing. We also can't put a door at the bottom of the laundry stairs because I don't think there would be room for it, it's a small entrance with a low ceiling and adding door framing might make it impossible to get big things in and out of there (furnace, hw heater).

We can't sell now because I have another 2 years in grad school and the house isn't ready to sell even from a cosmetic standpoint. We have two more rooms to paint (ugh this has been a nightmare house with wallpaper in every room and hallway, the plaster needing to be repaired, and all the ceilings having to be painted) and the exterior trim, windows, and porch need to be patched/painted. I'm hoping to get a job in the northeast after graduation (which is where my husband and I are from) which is why we'd be selling. We love the house, especially after all the work we've put into it, just not the location.

Now I'm worried that people will run screaming from our house. It's really not that bad, and it's an old house. It will take a certain kind of buyer who WANTS exactly what this house has. Definitely not the every day buyer. No way we can change that.

I've been considering calling a real estate agent to get their advice, but don't know whether that's inappropriate since we wouldn't be listing for at least two years. I would be upfront with them, though, and wouldn't pretend we were looking to sell right away.

All right, time to start scooping the fish out of the pond to bring them to their new home! Thanks everyone for your advice.

    Bookmark   July 3, 2014 at 9:25AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

With all of the problems that this house has, it will never sell unless the major ones are addressed. That includes fixing the actual water infiltration problem in the basement, and the roof. No bank will lend to a buyer with those problems unfixed. And no cash buyer will magically appear to take them on either. Those are major issues that quickly lead to wholesale deterioration of a home. They aren't minor.

So, you either have to REALLY address the primary issues, or, if you can't afford that to be done, go into foreclosure and walk away from the house. You are in over your head, and are prioritizing the wrong projects, such as the kitchen over the roof.

    Bookmark   July 3, 2014 at 10:32AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
Sophie Wheeler

Structural issues like leaky basements and roofs have first priority in any buyers mind. And they have to be disclosed. This house is unsellable to almost anyone other than the ''we buy ugy houses'' crowd without those items repaired appropriately. And that is where you should be directing your efforts and funding.

All other projects should grind to a halt while you address the basement issue---CORRECTLY. Walling it off isn't fixing it. Get a structural engineer in to make sure that the water issue hasn't affected the foundation, and to explain the correct repair needed. Then do the fix, and check off that box. If there's a lot of simple labor, like digging needed, then maybe a portion can be DIY. Same for the roof. Depending on the material and pitch, roofs can be DIY as well. You can certainly contribute the site cleanup labor for a crew to help lower costs.

    Bookmark   July 3, 2014 at 10:54AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

emoree I really do feel sorry for you - this is not a pleasant situation to be in and some hard decisions need to be made. From the little you are showing of the house, it looks cute and I'm going to guess you got caught up in the 'cute' without adequate inspection and/or advice. But that horse is out of the barn and you have to go forward from this point and make the most prudent decisions based on the long term.

You're young, you have time to make up losses if it comes to that, but you are getting sound advice here. I don't know what the local forum you've polled is basing their responses on, but a casual toss off that "it is what you get with an old house" is not going to help you and trust me, other people will be horrified and/or surprised.

GreenDesigns summed it up - fix it right (basement and roof) and eat that outlay knowing you likely won't see it returned but can live more comfortably until you sell (which will be possible because of those repairs) or walk away. I wish you luck making these tough decisions and sincerely hope you don't going throwing more good money after bad fixes and cosmetic niceties. The cutest powder room looks like hell when the roof is leaking and the house smells like rotting earth.

    Bookmark   July 3, 2014 at 11:18AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Thanks, guys. We did have a thorough home inspection, as well as electrical, HVAC, and maybe some others I'm not remembering. The seller disclosed to us that the basement was wet "due to the age of the home", and the inspector told us we were on the last 2/3 of the life of the roof. At the time we bought the house we thought we'd be living here a long time and weren't afraid of big investments in the next 5-10 years (like a roof). At the time I didn't know I'd be going to graduate school and we also didn't know that we really didn't like living in this area (only lived here for a year before buying a house).

We were very naive first time home buyers and REALLY wanted an old house with most of the original fixtures, windows, etc. in place which is extremely hard to find around here in our price range.

Well, off to take the fish to their new home. Thanks for your advice.

    Bookmark   July 3, 2014 at 11:39AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

If you have roof issues, that becomes your top priority--if it's leaking, it can't be insured and you will lose all buyers who need a mortgage to consider your house. Even if it's not leaking, if it has fewer than two years of life left, no one with an FHA loan can buy your home (and some conventional lenders may not write mortgages on it either). In contrast, while a damp basement is not fun, it can usually be insured/mortgaged as long as there is not actual water in it (although I believe it is at the discretion of the inspector/appraiser to determine the extent of the water issues for FHA loans--for conventional, we've never had anyone ask or inspect our basement, but they have asked for the roof history).

I would start saving for the roof (and get more bids to get a better sense of whether $15K is high or low in your area) and hire a structural engineer with soils expertise to inspect the basement and give you a report/recommendations on how to address the water issues. (That's exactly what we just did for our damp basement, and it was just a few hundred dollars to get the report done--much more for the work, of course!) Then, even if you can't afford the work, you can get estimates for it and provide these to prospective buyers so that it is not a scary unknown. Or it might turn out that there is a relatively simple fix that you can afford. In our case, we're doing what our engineer recommended as the phase I fix and will keep the full report to either do the other phases in later years as needed or to provide to buyers if we sell. That way, even if we never get around to the remaining recommended work--the hope is that the first phase of work might render later phases less critical depending on how effective it is--it will be clear that we monitored the situation and took necessary steps as appropriate to maintain the house. At the end of the day, I want prospective buyers to feel confident that our house has been cared for over our years here (because it has been!) and not be perturbed by any old house issues that do persist (because it is true there are some that just come with the territory). HTH, even if it's not necessarily the answer you were looking for...

    Bookmark   July 3, 2014 at 12:28PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Your house sounds a lot like ours: a 1920 small 2 bed/1bath needing a lot of updating and with basement problems. Ours has a laundry room add-on that was just built on top of a deck that's now rotting. I can feel your pain. :-)

However, there may be some relatively simple things you can do to address your problem of the deck-over-open-ceilinged-basement.

It would help if you could share photos of the basement, deck, etc. so we could see the problems you're describing, not just the cute laundry room. We could then see the details of the setup and suggest some possible solutions.

How much are you guys DIY-ers? If you're not afraid to get dirty and not afraid to learn, it may be that this basement clean-up job is mostly digging and carpentry, which anyone can learn.

I'm eager to see the problem up close. I enjoy concocting creative solutions, and you'll find lots of great resources here as well.

BTW, the Remodeling forum is probably the better one to post for help fixing your basement problems. Since everyone here has nixed your idea to just close it off and ignore it, you could move the conversation over there.

And post photos of your roof too, so everyone can chime in about how difficult/expensive it should be to replace the shingles.

    Bookmark   July 3, 2014 at 1:43PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

That's a great idea about the remodeling forum! I'll get some pictures together and post them, I'd love people's input. Thanks!

    Bookmark   July 3, 2014 at 11:06PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Even a 200 year old home should not have a basement that leaks water. No matter who tells you otherwise. Water infiltration can be fixed from the inside or the outside, depending on why it is leaking and access issues. I haul around buyers all the time and in 12 years have only sold one home to a buyer that had a wet basement. All other buyers moved on to the next home.

    Bookmark   July 7, 2014 at 11:25AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Have you had mold tests done? You might have bigger issues than you thought. Sealing off something that is wet and leaky is no way to make it "go away". Sorry.

    Bookmark   July 14, 2014 at 10:06AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

You know where the water is coming in. Stop it from coming in. Then your problem with water under the house is gone.
Think outside of the box if you have to.
You say you don't have any money to fix it, well, the water will just keep getting in, destroying the house foundation eventually.
You need to roof above the coal shoot. Somehow. Using anything you can afford to use that is waterproof, and will send the rain run off into your yard instead of in the basement.
Water is your enemy. Remember that.
Do you have gutters?
When is the last time you got up on a ladder and cleaned and inspected them too?
Just wondering, I saw a vine messing up your underneath roof thingy and wondered when the last time you were out there really looking.
Good Luck to you. You have a money pit there.

    Bookmark   July 14, 2014 at 12:57PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

I uploaded some more pictures of the problem areas to my pinterest since I can only upload one picture onto this actual thread. Here are all of the pictures of the deck and basement:

Last week we had a company come out who specializes in structural and foundation repairs, including water intrusion. Fortunately he didn't see any problems with our foundation, however he confirmed that our deck was indeed built on top of an open hole into our basement and "sealed" with foam insulation board and stupid spray foam. I still can't BELIEVE those freaking idiots did that. WHAT WERE THEY THINKING and how did they get away with it??????

He gave us a very nice plan (it seems to be, anyway) for about $7500.

1) Install new window well to prevent further water intrusion from that area (this is an obvious and easy fix)

2) Wall off room under deck using cinderblocks, remove deck from above, fill room with gravel

3) Grade ground away from house (all around perimeter of back of house)

4) Install 6mil plastic on top of gravel and pour more gravel on top to help with water shedding

5) Pour 2' cement slab all around back perimeter of house (from corner of bedroom to corner of kitchen)

6) Pour 8'x12' cement patio in place of deck

7) redirect and bury sump pump line underground

8) Install 7" gutter on back of house and direct into ground (large PVC 90degree pipe) into large black pipe

9) Run gutter pipe and sump pump lines into hole from our fish pond that we just dismantled

10) Fill fish pond with gravel and top with soil

I would be much happier with a cement patio than the wood deck because they didn't have the foresight to create a roof over the whole deck so that the part that is exposed to the elements is very weathered and dangerously slippery in the rain. The wood window that is right there (to the kitchen) also has no protection from the elements and we recently had to have the entire thing (including the wood storm window) removed and restored.

What do you guys think about this plan? Are there problems with a cement patio that I'm not foreseeing? I think this plan would solve our water problems 99.9%, if not 100%.

Here is a link that might be useful: Current pictures of basement and deck

    Bookmark   July 14, 2014 at 1:06PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Thanks, Butterfly, for your post. A roof over the problem areas is a very interesting idea and one I hadn't considered. We do have gutters but much of the back of the house isn't protected from the elements (it seems like the back of the house gets the worst of the rain and sun and there is no overhang because of how the roof is shaped for protection).

Cleaning the gutters is a big thing and has helped a lot but hasn't gotten rid of the water problem completely.

The original pictures I had up were old from when we bought the house, so that vine you saw (and that rotted wood door) are long gone as are a few other things.

    Bookmark   July 14, 2014 at 5:27PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

I can't speak to the specifics of the plan, but broadly that's the right idea, and except for the deck part, is more or less what we're doing for our home (albeit for much more money...yay HCOL areas!) Basically, you want to stop the water that's getting in now and prevent it from getting in in the future, which the grading and drains/gutters will do. If the guy proposing this has good references and qualifications, I would 1000% do it--as an added benefit, you get a new patio (we have a concrete patio too and although ours is cracked 40+ years in, a new one should have no issues if the drainage around it has been handled), and your sump and gutter lines get undergrounded. So you not only solve (and no longer have to disclose--though you'll want to keep records of all of this to provide when you sell since an inspector may well see the signs of past water intrusion) your water issues and get a dry basement, but you also get an improved yard aesthetically and functionally too.

The only thing I don't entirely understand is running the lines to the old fish pond--ours will go down directly to the sewers to stay away from soil that could reabsorb the water--but that may be an urban v. rural thing too. And I'm far from being a drainage expert despite the ridiculous amounts of research I've done on it in the past few months. :)

    Bookmark   July 15, 2014 at 2:41AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Thanks, artemis! Yeah, here it's definitely cheap(ish) to buy a house, but that's a double edged sword when you want to sell! I'd take a hot market and high prices any day over what we have here (at least, since we want to sell in a few years!).

I'm glad you think the patio is a good idea. I think it will be SO much nicer than the rotting wood deck, if a bit plain. It will be AMAZING to be able to walk outside and not be reminded of the open hole into our house that's under our feet (which our local possums, lizards, and myriad insects are just an inch or two away from entering with that stupid foam!).

I also posted this on the home repair forum and someone had a good reply suggesting that we don't need the concrete all the way around the house. That was my idea (go big or go home, right?) while the contractor actually suggested putting up flashing and then grading with soil. He's coming back today for a second look and to finalize his estimate, so I'm going to ask him about just doing concrete for the patio and doing dirt for the rest. I'm also going to ask him about installing a drain around the edge of the house, I'm not sure why he didn't suggest that (maybe it's really expensive?).

They're running the lines into the fish pond because the hole happens to be there (less money!). They normally dig a 4'x4'x4' water holding pen (can't remember what they call it) filled with gravel that allows the water to slowly seep into the ground far away from the house. Our fish pond happens to be in the right location. I wouldn't want to mess with the sewer lines, I can see that costing some major money! And there are so many issues with the sewer in this city, I'd doubt they'd let us tap into it.

I'm concerned that we'd do the work and water would STILL come in through the wall, but I'll make sure they have some kind of guarantee that they'd come fix it.

If I can get the price down to $5,000 that would be ideal! (well, $0 would be ideal but that's not going to happen) Oh, I'm also going to ask him about installing a door at the bottom of the stairs. I'd hate to have all this work done and have the laundry room still smell because it's directly open to the basement, most of which is dirt (crawlspace).

    Bookmark   July 15, 2014 at 11:45AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Gotcha--we have clay soil here so that's likely the big difference; once water is in the soil, it's not really going far from there. (And to be clear, our drains won't connect to the sewer lines, which isn't allowed here either; they just open up onto the street where the water then flows downhill into the sewer drains.) Our drains are covered by concrete on the uphill side so that surface water can be directed away from the house, and the drains below just have to absorb groundwater and rainwater from gutters, but on the side of our house, they will just be covered with soil since there's not as much water intrusion there (and it's landscaped). So I think it depends in part on the specifics of where the water is coming from, too. The major cost of our work is the concrete, though, so cutting any concrete out where you can will likely knock the price down. We did have bids from people who wanted to run drains around the entire perimeter of the foundation, but it was so exorbitantly expensive (and our engineer did not agree that it was needed) that we skipped those, and are just doing it on the uphill side and along an area where we get water now. It is definitely not an exact science, though--we have five different bids, all with completely different approaches to the same problem. Oy. Fingers crossed that the one we picked will work! Good luck with your project!

    Bookmark   July 15, 2014 at 4:52PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

That makes sense the water is going to the sewer drain and not a sewer line! I'm surprised the concrete is the expensive part--- maybe you're in a difficult location where it would be hard to get the concrete there? In our case the expensive part is the sheer overwhelming physical labor of it all.

The contractor came back today and I had done some digging above the old coal on the outside as well as inside it (in the basement) and had an unpleasant surprise (are there any pleasant surprises with this house?). Apparently, like everything else with this house, they cob-jobbed the coal chute closed by throwing bricks into it and pouring a thin slab on top. I don't know what caused the avalanche of dirt (and insulation) on the bottom inside the basement, but I do know that there is no concrete floor under it like there is in the rest of the basement! We assumed it was concrete and that the dirt avalanche could just be shoveled out. Course not. We had a lot of rain a few days ago and as I shoveled up some dirt inside the basement, expecting to see a concrete floor, instead it was just more dirt and a growing pool of water. The contractor thinks there is water coming up from the ground as well as through the wall. So that changed our plan a bit since they're going to have to excavate down outside the house to the basement floor level, pour a footer, build a cinderblock wall to properly seal off the stupid coal chute, and then do some waterproofing inside (clean out dirt, install drain in floor into sump pump which is fortunately only about a foot away, pour clean gravel on top, cover with encapsulating material). On the exterior he thinks it should just be graded away with dirt and with a hardscape/mulch/rocks/something, no plantings.

The total is now up to $8500. I'm a little shocked that it's that inexpensive, for all the work they'd be doing (pouring a footer sounds like it would be exorbitantly expensive, right?). He also isn't going to be doing the concrete on the other side of the deck (under the kitchen window) since he thinks the water on that side is also coming up from the ground (sheesh) and it wouldn't do much good. So they're just going to grade the ground there with dirt. I asked him about a door at the bottom of the stairs and he said he could put up some of that encapsulating material and have it hang down over the opening, which would be better than nothing since an actual door isn't feasible.

It sounds like you did more than your due diligence with getting bids and planning, so I really hope it works out for you! It's got to help somewhat, at least, if not get rid of the water 100%. If your water table is high (like it is here, apparently) then the french drains won't be 100%, but you'd probably know that by now.

My husband is still digesting all this information, but if all goes well we'll be having it done early September probably.

Good luck with everything!!

    Bookmark   July 16, 2014 at 1:19AM
Sign Up to comment
More Discussions
Move or not?
Went to an open house the other day. The house was...
Pond Dye Dumped Into My Pond and Stream... Water Rights Question
I never posted once in seven years, and now I post...
Would you buy a home near fire station??
We're considering an offer on a single-family home...
Home Buyers Please Vote: Would you rather ...
1. A $2,000 kitchen appliance allowance or any stainless...
Questions for buying a home with a septic system
I just came across an interesting article about issues...
Sponsored Products
Soft Square Brushed Nickel Two Light Wall Sconce
$206.00 | Bellacor
Home Dynamix 9376D Sumatra Area Rug - Black - 9376D-450-SUMATRA 2
$164.99 | Hayneedle
Palliser Taurus Curved 3 Seat Leather Home Theater Group - 41093-CONFIGURATIONF-
Oversized Corner Shelving Cover
$129.50 | FRONTGATE
Fanimation Akira 52 In. Indoor Ceiling Fan with Light - FP8000OB
$249.00 | Hayneedle
Dual Lighted Steel Recessed Medicine Cabinet - Stainless Steel
Signature Hardware
Diamond Deck Floor Mats Metallic Silver 7.5 ft. x 20 ft. Large Car Mat Gray
Home Depot
Resilient Vinyl Planks: TrafficMASTER Allure Flooring 6 in. x 36 in. Tradition
$2.09 | Home Depot
© 2015 Houzz Inc. Houzz® The new way to design your home™