Always get a second opinion!

I went to see a friend/client’s condo townhouse yesterday – she has been having water issues in the basement for a year and a half, as has one of her neighbours. She said the condominium board  had received an opinion from a structural engineer who told them that the water was coming in from above-ground and they needed to put a giant sump pump to solve the problem. They got a quote that said it was going to cost over $ 100K.


I suggested I came over to take a look and do a walk through as she wasn’t sure what to do about this problem and wants to get ready to sell.

So I walked into the basement to see what was going on. She had taken down the stained drywall and I could see where the water had come in before (there were clear signs of effluorescence on the concrete foundation). It also appeared that a waterproof membrane  had been installed some time ago, which meant there had been water issues  in the past.

What was notable to me was that there was  no  smell of must or mildew and that’s something I usually pick up on right away (I have allergies, so the tiniest bit of must hits me hard.)  I asked my friend when the last time was that she had water coming in. She said she’d had seepage between February and April last year but nothing since, although her neighbours have had problems this year. Which made no sense to me at all. Because we have had more rain than ever this summer, and if it was a seepage issue, they all should have had the same problem.

So I walked outside to look at the foundation and guess what I found! A nice little foundation crack, almost hidden from sight behind the fence post between the two properties, and right where the water had entered her basement.

Which means her water is probably coming from snow melt, not seepage, which explains why it was limited to February-April last year and why she didn’t get any water infiltration this year despite the heavy rains.

We didn’t get a lot of snow this year, and for water to leak through that crack, the snow would have to be a good foot above the ground and go through some freeze and thaw cycles. The rain this year never reached that level, except where we had extensive flooding, which is why it had no effect on her property.  I’m guessing her neighbours continued to have problems because her basement has a waterproof membrane and theirs doesn’t.

The difference in terms of cost is huge! The cost of repairing a foundation crack like that, I’d guess, will be around $ 1600, a bit higher than usual because they will have to take the fence post down to epoxy the crack. A far cry from the $ 100K the condo board was quoted, and I somehow doubt that giant sump pump will be needed.

The cost of installing a waterproof membrane at the neighbours is higher but nowhere near the quote the condo board got. I gave her the name of Ardel Concrete, my go-to foundation guys so that they can come over and give her an estimate that she can pass onto her condo board. I will be interested to see if they share my opinion but I would bet good money that once that crack is epoxied, that will be the end of my friend’s problem.

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