Q&A / 

Who is Responsible for Poor Drainage?

Quick Column Summary:

  • Basement with water issues and mold
  • Is it the builders fault
  • Building code is for the minimum standard
  • Research and detailed planning is required

David Fern has lots of water and mold in his basement. He's one unhappy customer and wants to know who should have paid to make sure this didn't happen.

I don't think he's going to like my answer.

"Our basement has water issues. The sump pump runs a great deal, especially after it rains, and there is black mold as well. I know that installing a french drain will help but I want to know what responsibility the builder or architect has with installing no drainage or insufficient drainage around the foundation? Seems to me that someone should be held responsible for fixing this problem, and it shouldn't be me."

Here's my answer to David:

David, I got my real estate salesman's license in 1975. I remember a Latin phrase taught in one of the courses:

"Caveat emptor"

"Let the buyer beware."

The bottom line is you're responsible for fixing this problem since you failed to do your due diligence BEFORE you bought or closed on the home.

I've had information here at my website for over fifteen years about proper drainage and foundation waterproofing. There are countless other websites that have good info too about this.

I'm going to assume this is a new home. If so, you should have provided lots of input into the plans and specifications ensuring the basement would be dry. You can't hope for things to happen. You only hope for things you can't control. You were in complete control of what would happen with your basement.

If you would have done your homework before you handed over the money for this house, you would have known then you'd never have an issue because you would have had the house built the way I, or other drainage experts, would have said to do it. You would have paid the extra money at that time for the upgrade.

I know what you're thinking, "Tim, I paid PROFESSIONALS to do it right. I paid to have the house built to the building code."

More bad news - the building code is a set of MINIMUM standards. The building code doesn't ensure dry mold-free basements.

Guess what? People get bamboozled each and every day. Didn't P.T. Barnum bloviate about this?

"There's a sucker born every minute."

If you didn't have the proper specifications in place before you built the home to ensure a dry basement, it's your fault. It's time for you to suck it up and get out your checkbook.

Sorry for the tough love.


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