Should I Fix My Leaky Basement?
Tuesday, February 5, 2013 • 12:38pm
Some people that have a small leak in the basement tend to downplay it, at least in their own minds. “It only leaked because of Hurricane Irene” is the reason most often given recently. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, either your basement is sealed tight and will not leak or it’s not sealed and does leak. It is a very simple fact. It leaks or it doesn’t.
Now here is another fact, once your basement leaks, you are going to have to pay for it to be fixed. This can happen in one of a few ways:
- Your Home's Resale Value: The resale value of your home could be adversely affected. Buyers expect a dry basement with a strong foundation and no cracks. The market can sometimes penalize you, the seller, up to 10% of the resale price of your home. Actually, any signs that there was once water in your basement such as water marks on the walls, musty odors and mildew will cause great concern to a potential buyer of your home. When real estate markets are tight, this damage will turn buyers off and cause them to either look elsewhere or seek a significant drop in price.
- Real Estate Laws: Real estate laws have become very strict regarding basements. You, the seller, could be held responsible for any undisclosed defects for long periods of time after the sale. You can put your house up for sale so long as all water defects are disclosed. However, the market will penalize you if you take this course in the form of lower offers for your home.
- Delayed Sale: In the real estate industry, especially today, a delayed sale usually is a lost sale. Don't wait until the last minute to address your leaky basement. That could lead right into the next issue and cost you more money.
- The buyer chooses a contractor: The house is in Attorney review and you think everything is fine until the buyer’s Home Inspector finds evidence of water in the basement. Now the buyer finds three high priced contractors to fix the basement and lets you choose.
Because of the water problem there may very well be an issue with mold. Unpleasant odors in your basement and throughout your house are in direct association with damp basements. Mold spores and bacteria cultures that form on wet and rotting surfaces can expose serious health problems to you and your family. The elderly, the allergic and those with weak immune systems are vulnerable to a variety of illnesses due to mold spores and bacteria caused by a damp basement. If the home inspector finds signs of mold in your basement, you might end up having to pay a Mold Remediation company to come to your home. The costs associated with this can be staggering. From a testing at hundreds to a full out mold remediation of your basement can be thousands of dollars.
Once the basement has leaked it will leak again, it is just a matter of when. You are going to have to pay for the leak at the time of the sale anyway. If you sell the house in ten years, do you think it will cost less to fix in 2021 than it does today? Probably not less than today’s pricing, but more likely quite a bit more. So if you are going to pay for it anyway, doesn’t it make more sense to fix it now at today’s prices and have a dry basement for the next 10 years until you do sell?
Who knows when the next Nor’easter or Hurricane is going to occur?
Doug Lynch is a basement expert from Westfield, NJ where he lives with his wife Kelli and their dogs Sammy and Angie. Doug teaches a class at Westfield Adult School “Keeping Your Basement Dry” and is the Author of Basements 101 Everything You Need to Know About Your Basement. Doug has testified in NJ Superior Court as an Expert Witness in Basement Waterproofing and does seminars for local Real Estate Agents to educate them about basements. Doug is the owner of A-1 Basement Solutions in Scotch Plains and authors the popular BASEMENT SCHOOL Blog.
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