Tuesday, 28 April 2009

How to Choose a Basement Waterproofing Contractor

It might seem natural for your basement to be a dank, drippy place, shrouded as it is in pipes and darkness. It's underground! It's made of stone! It's supposed to be like that, right?

Well, no. Despite the picture of basements you may have put together from all the horror movies you watched, they actually function best when they're bone-dry and drip-free. That's why basement waterproofing contractors have jobs. Because a wet basement is a dangerous basement.

A good basement waterproofing contractor is like Superman, and your wet, leaking basement walls are Lex Luthor. Or the basement waterproofing contractor is the cast of CSI, and your basement is the murder victim. Or even this: The basement is a shark, and the contractor is one of those little fish that swims around in its mouth cleaning its teeth.

You get the idea.

But look through the phone book, or do a Google search. You're bound to find dozens of basement waterproofing contractors just in your neighborhood. How to choose among them?

Fear not. There are a few easy steps to follow when choosing.

Find a basement waterproofer who's licensed and insured. This is a big deal -- maybe the biggest. Ideally, he should carry both worker's comp and personal liability insurance. This way, if he or one of his workers is injured on the job, you're protected from a lawsuit. Also, if he damages you're home, he'll be liable and you won't get stuck with the bill. Ask him for the name and number of his insurance carrier.

Get a bid from each contractor. Compare two or three of them. Explain the problem in as much detail as you can. Or, better yet, have each basement waterproofing contractor come to your home and give you a free estimate (if someone won't give you a free estimate, cross him off your list). If he tries to scare you into making a decision right away, give him the heave-ho. Few basement waterproofing problems are so immediately severe that they can't wait out some informed decision-making.

Check the consumer reporting websites. Angie's List is one. Yelp is another. The Better Business Bureau also tells you what you need to know. Look up all the reviews you can.

Get references. Oh, yeah -- this is something you can do. Unless yours is the first home he's worked on, he should be able to provide customer testimonials, letters of recommendation, or even contact information for clients he's satisfied in the past. Think of the selection process as a job interview.

Communication is key. Try to find a guy who'll keep you posted on developments in your project. Make sure he's courteous and polite in his interactions with your and your family; if you have kids or a friendly dog, make sure they're around when he comes over to give the estimate. That way you can see how he'll be when he's in your home. Don't be afraid to ask plenty of questions, either -- if he gets annoyed, you'll know what he's like to work with.

Check those subcontractors. A basement waterproofing contractor who subcontracts his work isn't necessarily bad, but he is adding a layer of bureaucracy to the process. If possible, find a guy who, along with his staff, do all the work himself, including the billing.

Check out the menu before you buy. Your needs may extend beyond basement waterproofing, and a contractor who can help out with general remodeling or mold remediation is best. But don't go too far here -- a jack of all trades may be a master of none, and you need to make sure you're not hiring someone who agrees to a task he won't be able to complete.

Michael Kirby is a freelance writer living in California. He writes on a variety of topics, including home improvement, travel, food, health and wellness, and employment. One of his clients is Right Way Waterproofing, the premier solution source for basement waterproofing, basement finishing and mold remediation in Pennsylvania.

Visit Right Way Waterproofing's website here:


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