Buying a Home with a Wet Basement
September 1st, 2015
While you shouldn’t rule out buying a home with a wet basement, you do need to do some further investigation before going ahead with a purchase agreement. . When a home inspector discovers a potential problem and recommends a waterproofing contractor come in a give an assessment of the situation.
Sometimes the seller of the home you buy may not even know of a leak. At other times, they may try and conceal them. At best you have a repair job ahead of you. At worst, you could be in a legal battle trying to recoup the cost of repairing your basement. If you suspect water problems in the basement, your safest bet is to have a waterproofing contractor inspect the basement before you buy the house. After all, you wouldn’t purchase a second-hand car without asking an expert for an opinion, and having the vehicle tested too. It makes sense to apply the same logic when buying a second-hand home. The waterproofer’s report shouldn’t cost you an arm or a leg either, but could potentially save you from tens of thousands of dollars in home repairs.
What to look for.
Insist on doing the inspection without the seller or their agent hovering nearby. Alarm bells should start ringing in your head the moment you spot any of the following:
• The characteristic musty smell of damp or mould. If you find it in a basement, there’s bound to be moisture down there somewhere too.
• Water staining anywhere on the ceiling, floor and walls. Make sure you bottom out on the cause, and find out if it’s still happening.
• The white powder the experts call efflorescence. Water leaves this behind over a period of time after it evaporates.
• Plaster rendering coming away because of spalding happening inside the wall itself.
• Black, brown, green or yellow mould that needs a damp environment in which to take root and multiply.
Some simple problems
Sometimes the cause of basement damp is a leaking water pipe or a faulty appliance. If it’s a transient problem like that and you’re a handy person, you may just need to tighten up a joint or two. In other words, the basement is not the problem – it’s the way it’s being used.
The solution can also be as simple as redirecting rainwater where it’s discharging from a gutter, adjusting a garden sprinkler system, or unblocking the window well drain. Again, here the basement is quite sound. But no basement will perform well if there’s water dammed up around it.
More Serious Problems
If the above issues are not present, and there’s moisture penetrating through the basement walls from outside, then you have a real problem. Either the drainage systems that were put in place have failed, or they were inadequate in the first place. It’s pointless even trying to stem the flow of water with a cheap kit from a hardware store. You’ll most likely need a professional to assess the situation.
Before you buy
We said earlier to the wisdom of arranging a proper survey before bidding for a home that includes a basement with issues. Why take chances with your biggest investment? Obtain peace of mind. Have it checked out first by a waterproofing contractor Know what’s on offer before you buy.