If you are interested in buying a house that you believe may have a problem with flooding or dampness in the basement, you may be a bit leery, and rightly so. A wet basement can pose a bunch of risks, including mold growth and diminished structural integrity of the foundation. Fortunately, there are a few things you can do. Here's what they are.
Get a C.L.U.E. Report
You need to know the house's backstory. While sellers are supposed to disclose serious conditions and damages to buyers, sometimes they simply don't. They may try to hide the fact that the house has problems, they may have forgotten, or they may not realize the extent of the problems if the problems have become so commonplace and, therefore, insignificant to them. Instead of relying on a seller's disclosure, get a C.L.U.E. report.
A C.L.U.E. report comes from the Comprehensive Loss Underwriting Exchange, which your real estate agent or homeowner's insurance company can help you obtain. This report shows a history of losses that were claimed against homeowner's policies linked to the house and property. Even though it only shows the most recent seven years worth of claims, it can give you a good idea of any ongoing problems with the home, particularly when it comes to a wet basement.
Hire a Home Inspector & a Structural Engineer
Home inspectors are typically required in many areas before a house can be sold. However, home inspectors could miss crucial parts of their assignment if they do not have an understanding of the history of the home's insurance claims. Therefore, hire a home inspector and provide him or her with the C.L.U.E. report so they can focus their attention on the problematic areas.
Also, hire a structural engineer to determine whether or not the ongoing wet basement has damaged the structural integrity of the foundation and the entire house. Wet foundation walls can wick water upwards and into the wooden structures of a house. The wood structures then can become water damaged or rotted, which would likely need to be repaired as well (costs you'll want to keep in mind).
Determine the Best Waterproofing Methods
If the home inspector and structural engineer determine that the house has far too much water damage to the structural integrity of the foundation and the house overall, your first reaction may be to want to forego on buying the property. Instead, first get an idea of what the costs would be. In order to do that, you'll need to determine which waterproofing methods you would use to get a dry basement. Your home inspector can give you some ideas based on the slope of the property, or other problems that contribute to the wet basement, and the conditions of the foundation. Here are several methods to consider:
- Waterproofing sealant
- French drainage system
- Crack injections or fillers
- Sump pump system
In all likelihood, for a house that has an ongoing wet basement problem, more than one method should be considered, if not all of them. Once you've determined which method(s) you would use, hire a waterproofing service to provide you with an itemized cost list.
Negotiate with the Seller
With the C.L.U.E. and itemized cost list in hand, negotiate with the seller to have them either reduce the price of the home to compensate for the waterproofing and structural repairs or ask them to do the work before you close on the house. Of course, there are state laws and procedures that need to be followed when negotiating a real estate transaction, so you'll want to have your real estate agent help you with the negotiations or hire a real estate attorney to assist you.
For more information, contact a professional in your area or visit a website like http://www.centralpennwaterproofing.com.