Estimates don’t have to be “an educated guess”
When it comes to estimates, many potential clients worry that the estimates they get are merely “estimates” of the final cost of the work needed. This doesn’t have to be the case however, since it is possible to provide fixed pricing when the scope of the work involved is well understood.
What we mean by “well understood” is that the contractor inspecting the issue is quite certain, or has positive confirmation, of what the problem is and what the appropriate solution is to resolve the problem. For example, when conducting a visual inspection during an estimate, if the homeowner can assist in locating the issue and describing it well, the contractor will be more effective and efficient at diagnosing the precise source of the basement leak.
Examples of homeowner input:
- “I saw water running down the wall from behind the insulation here”
- “It was coming in below the window”
- “There’s a crack at the window corner I believe may be leaking”
- “The carpet is always wet in this location when it rains a lot”
These are just some common examples of clients’ descriptions of issues that assist us in ascertaining the problem and help us provide a fixed quote.
Now, one of the best ways to determine the scope of the work involved would be a visual inspection of the exposed foundation wall. In a finished basement this means exposing the affected area for a visual examination, short of this a moisture meter can be used to read humidity levels but this is not as effective as a visual inspection in determining exactly what it is that needs to be repaired behind finished basement walls.
The importance of proper assessment
When waterproofing work is being performed, proper diagnosis and agreement between the contractor and client is crucial. Clients do not like surprises when they’ve agreed on having work done, particularly when the cost of the work magnifies drastically. This is why it is important to do a thorough investigation of the problem prior to commencing the work.
Therefore, we must have visual confirmation of the issue before we commence, and if the basement is finished, it is strongly recommended that the affected area be exposed prior to or during the estimate. Particularly when it comes to concrete block foundations, as usually it is not a small section of the foundation that is causing issues and if the wrong area is waterproofed or a section is missed the problem will not be completely resolved.
Essentially the message here is that, provided a proper visual inspection is done, fixed pricing on estimates can be implemented.
It is also important for the scope of work to be clearly documented (which party is responsible for what and what is included or excluded) on the contracts people sign. This way the likelihood of “surprises” in terms of higher costs is minimized and there is actually a binding agreement between the customer and the contractor.
Now, this is not to say that there aren’t “surprises” that pop up from time to time on waterproofing jobs but we do our best to minimize the surprise by explaining what types of issues we may encounter.
The kinds of surprises that could force an increase in the cost of waterproofing work are as follows:
- More cracks or rod-holes found leaking at the time work is underway;
- The need for flushing of weeping tile;
- The absence of weeping tile on the exterior so there is no drainage point and a sump pump needs to be installed inside if you want to drain newly installed weeping tile;
- Injections requiring great amounts of material; and
- Reinforcement and crack stabilization when cracks are wide or horizontal, etc.
The cost of hiring the wrong contractor
Often times when you hire a contractor you get what you pay for. Sometimes homeowners hire contractors without expertise simply through the allure of a lower price than competitors but as we’ve seen many times this decision can eventually lead to the hiring of another contractor to redo the work; incurring more cost to the homeowner.