I had to
figure out how to keep the inside
dry. One possibility was investing
in what are known as French
drains. These are perforated
pipes buried in a bed of gravel,
and designed to wick moisture
away. Years ago, the prior owner
had pounded 2 by 12 boards into
the dirt along the perimeter
to keep some of the dirt and
moisture out. Perhaps it
helped at one point, but it
didn't stop the problem.
I had Forster Pump and Engineering, (Roy Forster, 56 Woodland Avenue, San Rafael, CA, 415-459-4770) come out and propose a french drain solution. Roy suggested a few possibilities. First, a new subdrain along the uppermost outer perimeter of the house approximately 30 feet long by three feet deep. This drain would continue along the north side of the house to a point of discharge below the house. The estimated cost for this: $14,550.
a backup to this, a French drain
was proposed inside the crawl
space, against the lower floor. This
would be tricky, since the house
was supported on piers, supported
on concrete wedges, and my understanding
is you do not want to carve
within ~45 degrees of the pier's
contact with the soil.
in Forster's quote was a retaining
wall inside the crawl space
made of 2 x 12 lagging, with
a drain behind that. The
wall would be about three foot
high. Estimated cost, $19,250.
a lower-cost alternative to
this crawl-space drain, Forster
proposed a shallower sub-drain
limited to area behind the living
room portion that had leaked
the prior year. This would
be 18-24" deep, 15' long,
leading to a basin and sump
pump, and only $6,500.
So I had a
French drain solution of $35,000. Tempting,
but would it solve all the problems?
there was the other concrete
ad found on Craigslist Foundation
Specialists for Cheap.
Apparently Manuel worked on
a regular crew but did work
on the weekend with his other
Guatemalan buddies. I contacted
Manuel and had him come by the
house. About three or four
guys showed up. They looked
around, poked around, and thought
that they could actually create
a foundation for the house with
a drain in the middle for a
labor cost of $20,000, concrete
of $4,000, and other materials
of $2,000, exterior French drains
an additional $10,000, for a
total of $36,000. Another
low number, but what would I
really be getting?
Perhaps I would have to go with a proper foundation repair. The tough thing, $100,000 later (or more!) this house would still look the same.