Last Tuesday, I met with the last of the contractors I'd called regarding my basement leakage problems. I now have two quotes, one for $3,470 from KC Waterproofing, and the other for $4,214, from Dry Basement and Foundation Systems. The first contractor that came out was supposed to fax me a bid, but never did. I haven't pursued his quote because that organization only offered a one year warranty, which I was wholly unimpressed by.
The last contractor, Allen Kragnes of Dry Basement, knocked $300 off his bid (down from $4500) when I told him the other bid, from Devon Todd of KC Waterproofing. Mr. Kragnes also moderately trashed KC Waterproofing. He said that their system was inferior. Dry Basement uses drainage tiles made by "WaterGuard", that are only open to the outside wall. According to Mr. Kragnes, this prevents water from flowing straight through the tile and collecting under the house, potentially seeping up through the floor. I'm not sure I'm wholly convinced by this. KC Waterproofing uses "Water Trek", and their system is, as Mr. Kragnes said, open on both sides.
He also implied that they'd been through a number of lawsuits and that they'd changed their name to avoid bad publicity. (According to KC Waterproofing, their business started in 1985, was part of the "Perma-Dry" franchise from 1990-1999, and changed names to KC Waterproofing in 1999.)
KC Waterproofing offers a life-of-house warranty, fully transferable. Dry Basement offers a 25 year warranty. As Mr. Kragnes pointed out, the warranty is only good for as long as the corporation continues to exist. Dry Basement is 29 years old. If KC Waterproofing is still honoring warranties from its earliest days, then they're 19 years old. If they're not, that would (a) be a bad sign in of itself and (b) make them only 5 years old.
I suppose if either of them was a public company, I could go check their balance sheets and see which one looked more solvent and profitable. Alas, as far as I can tell, neither one of them is. Both companies are members in good standing of the Better Business Bureau.
So I am left in the odd position of trying to decide which of two very similar systems is better, and which company is. I sent an email to KC Waterproofing to clarify what their warranty covered. It sounded like they'll only cover the walls that they actually put tile around, which is approximately half the basement. I sent the email last Tuesday and have not yet received a reply, which I expect means I should try calling instead.
I really don't want to do the whole basement, which would be even more expensive than normal, because the bathroom would need to be ripped apart. (It's built on a platform. Ugh).
Oh, another interesting difference: Mr. Todd wanted to run the drainage tile around an interior wall, instead of under it. He thought there was footing beneath it. Mr. Kragnes was sure there was no footing beneath that wall. He wanted to do different areas of the basement from what Mr. Todd did. I prefered KC Waterproofing's approach, which focused more on areas that I'd had trouble with. Maybe if I can convince KC Waterproofing that the interior wall is resting on floor, not footing, I can get them to drop their price further.
The main price difference between KC Waterproofing and Dry Basement isn't in the number of feet -- they both work out to about the same footage -- but that Dry Basement wants to replace my existing sump pump and KC Waterproofing said it would be OK. (Mr. Todd wasn't impressed with it, but he said it would suffice)
Mr. Kragnes did not inspire confidence in one other way: he thought that doing this work would only give me a 50-50 chance of not having a later leak in some part of the basement I didn't cover. But then again, that may have simply been honesty on his part. I hate to penalize him for mentioning a problem that I have to know I could have, anyway.
Actually, this is one way in which the closed-on-one-side tile sounds inferior. Since I'm not covering every wall with it, it seems to me that I want the tile open beneath the house, because water is going to come under the floor from the unsealed walls anyway. If the tile is open to the center, then -- I would hope! -- that water has a better chance of flowing into it, as opposed to into my house.
Or I could just go with Kage's idea and seal a cut length of PVC along the wall, leading to the sump pump. Sort of drainage tile on the cheap. Very cheap. :) Of course, that doesn't solve the problem of the extension, which doesn't have a sump pump.
My efforts at trying to find out which system is genuinely better have, so far, been unsuccessful. Google has yielded surprisingly little information on either of them, and everything that I have found has been clearly biased. ("This is OUR system! It's great! You should buy it from US!")
So I am turning to LiveJournal. If you, or someone you know, works in this business or otherwise has pertinent information on it, I'd love to hear it. I would really like for this round to be the last round with the basement. The last thing I want to do is have half my basement ripped up, only to have to do the other half anyway a few months later. (I say again: ugh.)