May 2003 Edition

How To Dry A Wet Basement

In the spring and after heavy rains, water leaks into my basement along the base of the foundation walls. How can I stop this?
First, make sure that rainwater runs away from the house foundation. To pinpoint problem areas, go outside while it’s raining and observe how the water flows off the roof and onto the ground around the house. Pay particular attention to areas below roof valleys where lots of water runs off.
Add soil to slope the ground away from the foundation. The grade should slope a minimum of 1 in. per foot for the first 4 to 6 ft. If necessary, direct roof water away with gutters, downspouts and drain pipes.
If these measures fail, you may have to install an interior drain tile and sump pump. The corrugated floor edging catches water running down the inside of the foundation wall and directs the water under it to the drain tile. The drain tile carries the water to the sump pump, where an electric pump automatically discharges it.


The materials are relatively inexpensive, but the labor is huge. You’ll need to jackhammer out a strip of concrete around the perimeter, haul out concrete rubble and dirt, carry in gravel, and then patch the concrete floor. This is dusty, sweaty labor. Pros charge several thousand dollars for this type of job.
To install this system, follow these steps:
1. Break out and remove an 18-in, strip of concrete around the walls to expose the footing and underlying dirt. Rent an electric jackhammer ($65 per day) for this task.
2. Dig a 12-in. wide by 8-in. deep trench alongside the footing.
3. Find a location for the sump basin (an unfinished room is best). You’ll need an electrical outlet for the sump pump and a way to run the discharge pipe outside. Break out additional floor, dig a hole and set the basin in place so the top is flush with the concrete floor.
4. Lay about 2 in. of gravel in the bottom of the trench (use crushed stone or river rock). Run the perforated drain tile in the trench and push its end through the knockout of the sump basin. Try to make a complete loop of the basement with the drain tile and run both ends into the basin. Fill the trench and around the basin with more gravel, leaving room for 3 to 4 in. of concrete.
5. Hang 6-mil polyethylene sheeting from the top of the foundation wall. Leave the bottom edge hanging just above the footing.
6. Lay the floor edging on the footing. Make sure the polyethylene runs behind it.
7. Lay a strip of polyethylene on top of the gravel and pour concrete to patch in the floor.
8. Install the sump pump in the basin and run the discharge pipe outside. Make sure the pipe runs at least 6 ft. away from the foundation so you aren’t just dumping the water back against the foundation wall.
If you have a concrete block foundation:
You’ll have to drain the block cores by drilling 1-in. holes through the face of each one of the block cells. Rent a rotary hammer with a 1-in. masonry bit; it’s worth the $50-a-day fee.

Source: The Family Handyman, February 2003

Metro Atlanta's Real Estate Update for March 2003

March was the largest monthly year to year decline for single family residential in our records database, which dates back to 1996. March 2003 closings were 4,119 versus 2002's 4,698. Not only was it down from March 2002, but also March 1999-2001. Single family detached was down 10.5%, while condos and townhomes were down 26.2%.
They believe our economy took a step back in March, while we went to war. However, it was over quickly and we may see an April and May rebound. With rates at all-time lows, the consumer may want to get that next home with a low mortgage, before interest rates go back up.
The average sale price for single family detached was $221,619 and for condos and townhomes, $186,030. The Combined average price for all single family was $218,119, which was almost $5,000 higher than last month and $2,300 higher than the same year ago period. These are not large increases, but still increases and they will become under increasing pressure if we continue to have decreasing closings and increasing inventories.

Source: Virtual Real Estate Store

Court Cuts Back Texas Mold Award

A Texas court of appeals in December threw out most of the money damages in the now famous "mold lawsuit" brought by New York publicist turned Texas homeowner Melinda Ballard against the Farmers Insurance Group. Chopping the $32 million jury award back to $4 million, the justices noted "no more than a scintilla of evidence" that Farmers committed knowing fraud. Under Texas law, this ruled out $15 million in punitive damages and $5 million for pain and suffering.
The judges left standing a consumer protection violation that occurred when Farmers waited four months to pay Ballard’s original claim for water damage to an oak floor. But they threw out any interest that accrued after Ballard refused a $382,738.69 check and held out for more money.
The appeals court turned down evidentiary appeals from both sides. The trial court had barred testimony from Ballard’s health experts on the grounds that the science was not reliable, but had not let Farmers use mediation records to show that Ballard had rejected reasonable offers. Seeing no egregious error, the appeals court deferred to the trial judge on both counts.
Either side can now appeal to the Texas Supreme Court, but that path holds risks for both. Ballard faces poor odds on the personal-injury front — courts seldom let experts peddle theories of mold-related illness. But the high court could find that the jury had some basis, however weak, for the fraud verdict, and reinstate punitive damages. However, it could also decide that Farmers did not get a fair trial because of the exclusion of the evidence from mediation; or it could even agree with Farmers that the case belonged in a different county court. Either ruling could send Ballard back to square one.

If you have a question, change of address, comment, home tip or would like to send Home Tips to your clients, send your letter to Home Tips, Christian Building Inspectors, Inc., 3697 Habersham Lane, Duluth, Georgia 30096. You can E-Mail your questions to us at We reserve the right to edit questions for length.

Quote Of The Month

"To have more, desire less."

Table Talk

A Tip Of The Hat To:

Patty Burke

Coldwell Banker

178 South Main Street, Suite 200

Alpharetta, Georgia 30004

**** Thank You****