In October 2005, we finally found our first house in Canada and made an offer which was accepted by the sellers. However, they'd just had a small flood in the basement but they were going to get it fixed. The sellers called one contractor but weren't happy with their solution so called another, Advantage Plumbing & Drainage.
They used a video camera to inspect the drain-tile and gave them two options; a solution that *may* fix the problem and will cost $10K, or one that would *definitely* fix the problem and would also come with a five year guarantee for the work at a cost of $25K. The sellers opted for the latter, more expensive option as they'd had a problem once before in the same location and wanted to make sure the problem was fixed.
Advantage started work which involved the excavation of the drain-tile around two-thirds of the perimeter and replacing it with new drain-tile. They also elected to dig two channels through the basement concrete slab and install drain-tile under the foundation, as there was a large deck they didn't want to disturb. Due to bad weather, this work dragged on longer than the month it was supposed to take and we (the buyers) decided not to close the property sale until it was completed.
On December 18th, we finally closed the sale. The drainage work had been completed except for some minor cosmetic work which was going to be sub-contracted to a stone mason as some walls needed rebuilding, concrete needed laying and the new concrete in the basement needed grinding down as it was too uneven to lay carpet over.
On 1st January, the basement flooded with water seeping up through the settlement cracks in the basement floor. Around 40% of the 1, 600 square foot basement was covered in water. Advantage arrived and said, "Don't worry, we'll fix it".
Three days later, more flooding. Water had built up outside the basement wall and because it had nowhere to go it kept rising until it found a way in, through a basement window frame. Advantage arrived and unscrewed a submerged cleanout to drain the surface water away. They left it like that, like a large plug hole in our backyard.
Two days later, an Advantage employee arrives to drill some holes in the bottom of a rain gutter downspout and throws in a bucket of drain rock around it. The plug hole had now been moved and we were now draining surface water through the rain system.
Three weeks later, late January 2006, Advantage arrived and dug a trench around the basement windows where the surface water was collecting, installed more drain-tile, drain rock and connected this into a concrete catch basin and drained it into the gutter drainage. This was their remedial fix.
In February 2006, we started to fight back as the work was unsatisfactory. We now had drain-rock thrown all over our front and back yards, plants that had been removed were just left for us to deal with. Our native soil had been used to backfill all of the drain-tile excavations, which is heavy with clay. No drain-cloth had been installed and when they installed the remedial fix, they said they'd found over 800 litres of water in the system as it got blocked when they backfilled. We also weren't convinced that the new fix really addressed the problem. So we were draining the surface water, but what about the other five feet of soil below before we get to the drain-tile. Wasn't that water-sodden soil all pressing against our basement walls?
Only one way to find out - so I removed all the drywall from the perimeter wall. Within five minutes of removing the insulation, water was beading through the two corner walls where the water had previously been collecting, forming droplets and running down the inside of the basement walls.
At this point, Advantage didn't want to know.
We called a meeting at the beginning of March, Advantage attended, and basically said they'd done a good job and had faith it was now satisfactory and wanted paying the $5K that the sellers had held back. We ended up agreeing nothing. Advantage didn't see they'd done anything wrong. They said they didn't install a membrane because they were working to a budget, even though they didn't offer it to the sellers. However, they did offer to install a floor drain in the basement so that when water does come into the property we can then claim on our property insurance! Needless to say, we refused. It ended with Advantage assuring is that the problem was fixed.
Five days later, after two days of heavy rain, the basement had more water in it. This time it was in a small area beyond where they'd been working. Advantage came, took pictures, and offered to extend the under-slab pipes they'd laid to cover that area, all for another $5K. When asked why they didn't lay into this room in the first place they said there wasn't a problem in this area, which is true. But then again, there'd never been a problem anywhere where they'd laid the under-slab pipework!
We didn't go ahead with the work. We then had more water in the same location two weeks later. A total of four floods in three months.
Advantage then placed a lien on our house for the $5K that is outstanding and have taken us to small claims court over it. Our settlement conference is scheduled for June 2008.
We've since had further exploratory work carried out and now have an estimate of $65K to re-excavate and redo the whole job. We'd then have to re-install the deck afterwards at an additional cost.
Coquitlam, British Columbia