Local News

Scam Can Bring a Flood of Problems

Posted February 2, 1998

— Periods of heavy rain and snowfall bring special worries to homeowners with wet basements. Will the basement just squeak by or will there be so much saturation that the water seeps or even runs into the house?

The continuing nature of the problem causes some people to think about re-waterproofing their homes. But if someone calls with an offer to do it for you, watch out. You could find that you are the one who gets "soaked."

Last year when Robert Stallings tried to get his crawl space damp-proofed, the company he used left him with a big mess. Now Stallings has to pump the water himself.

Stallings said the company came in, did some preliminary work, and never came back. Not only did it not return, it went out of business.

Stallings has now turned to Dale Dunn, a waterproofing specialist who says Stallings is the victim of selecting the wrong water-proofing company.

Dunn says some companies try to get homeowners to sign for repairs without getting a second opinion. In those instances where the homeowner complies, it's usually because he or she isn't educated about the true nature of the problem, according to Dunn.

Dunn gets about five calls a week from people who have paid thousands of dollars for bad repair jobs.

His firm advice for homeowners: only allow licensed individuals to do the work, and get a permit for the specific job.

Stallings was lucky because he didn't pay the $4,000 estimate. But dealing with a messy basement and pumping water from his crawl space everyday has taught him a valuable lesson.

Stallings says he would obtain two or three estimates before giving anyone the go-ahead.

To protect yourself from a job that is not well done:

*Get several estimates.

*Check refrences and make sure other clients are happy.

*Check what aspects of the job the warranty covers.

*Check credentials.

*If there is a Better Business Bureau in your town, you can find out if any complaints have been filed against the company. An absence of complaints does not necessarily mean the company is reputable, but complaints can be a signal that there have been questions raised.

Also remember that not all cases of a leaky basement need waterproofing to solve them. In one case, a homeowner's gutters needed replacing, along with the installation of "wedges" to align the gutter better with the roof. As soon as the gutters and wedges were installed, the basement stopped flooding, even in the heaviest rains.

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