We hear horror stories all the time where people have been victimized by nefarious contractors. When hiring a basement waterproofing contractor, what can a homeowner do to ensure they hire a reputable contractor to avoid getting ripped off? Adam Tracy explains.
Narrator: It’s time once again for the “Crack Man Podcast” hosted by A1 Foundation Crack Repair. I’m Darren Kincaid here with the Crack Daddy himself, Adam Tracy. Adam and The Crack Man Rich have over 30 years’ experience in the construction industry. Rich as over 25 years as the president and founder of A1 Foundation Crack Repair. This podcast provides expert basement waterproofing, concrete repair, and preventative maintenance tips for homeowners and businesses. A1 Foundation’s valuable insight will help avert a disastrous flood within the basement, health problems associated with water infiltration, and protect your biggest investment….your home. The topic of today’s podcast: What to look for when hiring a basement waterproofing contractor?
Narrator: So, Adam, I hear horror stories all the time where people have been victimized by nefarious contractors. When hiring a basement waterproofing contractor, what can a homeowner do to ensure they hire a reputable contractor to avoid getting ripped off?
Adam: So this is a story that everyone has heard. Everyone knows somebody who knows somebody that has had a contractor in their house, whether it was an electrician, a plumber, a roofing contract or a general contract. Doesn't matter. There's always these stories of somebody getting taken advantage of from the contracting world. The foundation contracting world is no different, and it happens to people, unfortunately. So this is an example of something that has happened right in our backyard here by a customer who called us kind of in a panic.
This tends to happen when people feel desperate about their foundation situation. We have had a tremendous amount of rain through the month of July here and people's basements are getting flooded during these rain events. So they start calling around. They ask a friend who knows somebody, and they find a contractor. And all they wanna do is resolve their problem, and they're not worried about all the other things that you would normally worry about with finding a contractor reputable company to hire them.
In this case, this particular person had water coming in their basement. It wasn't terrible. It was manageable, but it was something that they, they were new homeowners. They kinda got a little bit freaked out about the amount of water that was coming in. Something that could have been resolved, you know, pretty straightforward. They had a friend who had a guy that they knew who did foundation work. So they called him. He said, “Yeah, I'll come over. I'll take a look.” And then he came over with excavating equipment and dug out the entire foundation to tell them that they need to pay him $50,000 for the work that they're going to do. Meanwhile, the house is dug out 5 feet down into the frost line, totally exposed to all the elements. Luckily, this homeowner said, “Hold on. This doesn't sound right. Can I see your license for the work here?”
He goes, “Oh, well, I don't actually work for her. I work for a different guy.” And so they put the brakes on this project. Unfortunately, their house is totally exposed at the moment. So they're trying to hire somebody to fill in that area, but come to find out this person didn't have a license. They didn't have a registered business. And they did a good bait and switch on what the scope of work was, which they said a couple $1,000 was turned into over $50,000 worth of work post. So this is just kind of a cautionary tale on how to address and work with different contractors with any trade, but specifically for basement foundations.
The foundation is a vital part of your house. It's something we don't really think about, but when it comes to water leaking, it's kind of like a roof, right, you know, you can't just let water come in all the time. It's a nuisance. It's dangerous. It can cause health issues. It can cause structural issues. So, you know, it's something that you have to be aware of, and it's not just, you know, what we call chuck in the truck, or you know, the guys who just do this on the side, they should be working on this stuff. When it comes to, you know, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, and New Hampshire and Connecticut, first and foremost, they should have been a registered business. They should be in the business for a period of time, especially if they're offering a warranty for any of their services.
If you offer a lifetime warranty and have been in business for 6 months, how valuable is that warranty? Do we know that this business is going to be around in 6 years, 10 years, 15 years? We don't know. So longevity is something you should absolutely look at in terms of what this contractor’s capable of offering for, you know, down the road service if something were to happen. Obviously, the number one thing is making sure they're insured and making sure they have insurance coverages that a business would need, and it's not unreasonable to ask to see their certificate of insurance. Doesn't happen all the time, but they should be able to provide them without any hesitation because, again, they should be an insured, licensed and registered company. And then the big thing that I always do as our business at A1 Foundation as well as, you know, good reputable business is defining scope of work.
So when you are hiring a contractor, it shouldn't just be an open book, carte blanche for all types of things, there should be a defined scope of work going in, an idea, if not an exact price going in, and an understanding if there's going to be changes, what these changes are going to occur. So when we go to a foundation repair, whether it is a masonry job or whether it is a foundation crack repair, 9 times out of 10, actually probably more of 95 times out 100, you would know the exact price going into this, what the cost is going to be. In very rare cases, you're going to get a very tight range of x dollars to y dollars for the scope of work. And if there's any changes in the field, whether it is something that needs to be changed because the conditions are different or whether it needs to be changed because the scope wasn’t quite as perfect as what we expected going in, that should be communicated immediately before any sort of change orders are done. Right?
In the contracting world, where you're working for a larger business, there's change orders all the time. Right? You're building a skyscraper. It's not going to go exactly from point A to point B without any sort of hiccups or changes on the fly based on a million different things. But when you're working for a homeowner, those changes should be a lot smaller. And if there are changes, they should know exactly what is happening. So as a homeowner, you should know exactly what changes are going to happen prior to them happening, what those cost implications are prior to them being done, and an agreement written and signed upon that it's okay to do those.
When one of our technicians goes out on-site and lets say they're looking at a foundation, and it has a crack, but, it turns into there being 2 cracks, and they both need to be done. Well, you, as the homeowner, have the right to say “Yes”, “No”, or “It's okay. We're just going to leave it alone.” So, when my technician goes out there, or our technicians go out there, we go out, we assess if there's additional work that needs to be done based on questions from the homeowner or they open up a wall and they see something different, and that's where the pause happens. That's where we have a conversation. That's where you should have full directorship on what is going to happen next. No contractors should do any sort of work without you knowing or not without you knowing what the price implications are.
Foundations are no different in terms of contracting world from a general contractor or roofing contractor, but obviously when it comes to water infiltration, it turns to be like, hey, let's get it done now immediately. I don't care as long as it's fixed because the water's coming in, but it's often better to just take a pause for a moment, understand what the situation is. Understand that this company is a reputable company, has good reviews, licensed, and insured, and all of these things. And then also, are they going to be able to follow-up if there's any sort of additional things that need to happen down the line, or if there's any changes in the field, what's that going to cost and what's the implication to cost. So don't be a victim of bad contractors. Do your homework as a homeowner. Make sure you vet out, everybody.
Don't be afraid to ask questions. If they start getting, you know, a little bit of wishy-washy, that's a moment of pause. But anytime you have questions or contracts, they should be able to answer them right away. And so just protect yourselves and, you know, there's all sorts of consumer affairs articles online on how to do that, but definitely make sure you're protected. Make sure you're working with somebody who's reputable.
Narrator: Well, thanks, Adam, for explaining what to look for when hiring a basement waterproofing contractor.
Narrator: If you have a basement water problem and think you need a professional, or, if you’d like more information on foundation crack repair and basement waterproofing topics, please visit A1FoundationCrackRepair.com or call Rich at (866) 929-3171. Or you can email Rich at firstname.lastname@example.org. Thanks for listening and keep that basement dry.