It's all water under the sub floor

Recently (don’t make me look and link) I either wrote, or commented about some slight hang-ups with the new house. Specifically, when we had the carpet laid on the lower level, there were apparent water stains on the sub-floor plywood. Water had, at the very least, been wicking up through the nail holes. What’s worse, while the wetness was perhaps fresh, the problem didn’t look to be recent.

We figured we could pull up the sub-floor, find out of there was actually any water coming in at that foundation corner, and deal with either the foundation, or lay tile and just mop up if more water should present itself. We were heartened by the fact that conventional “wisdom” of the day mandated running the eaves trough downspouts directly into the ground beside the foundation of the house. The “wisdom” part being that the water will hit the weeping tile and dissipate harmlessly. The foolish part of this is that you’re directing water right next to your foundation, thereby increasing the chances of getting water in your basement.

The simple fix to this problem involved the new homeowner (hi!) cutting off the downspouts that lead to the foundation, and directing them away from the house, and not potentially flooding our spare room (or more) in the basement.

It all sounds so simple. Blame the gutters for the water in the basement, fix the gutters, and the basement will be dry. Right?

Well, maybe.

The Lovely Wife, in her previous life*, dealt extensively with general contractors. Contractors who, knowing how to keep good relations with consultants, will continue to answer calls from women on maternity leave who need some grunt-work to be done around the house. The reason she made this call is because all my social science training in University did not give me reason to amass tools like Sawz-Alls in my basement, nor did it give me that nice strong back that is required when doing interior demolition on a 22-year-old house.

*The non Stay At Home Mommy life, wherein she gets to frolic with other working folk, talking about all things human and intelligent, and going for coffee twice a day and generally being happy and not dealing with screaming, ranting, refusing-to-eat toddlers and their cute but even-less-rational siblings.

Cut to the chase: We have problems. They are numerous, and they will undoubtedly result in (no, not endless home repair blogging) bringing others in to share in the troublesomeness of it all. To wit:

The water is not coming from the logically suspect wall. Instead, the water appears to be coming from not the side/back corner, but the interior/back corner. The floor seems to be crack-free.
The contractor-friend ripped out most of the floor in the spare room, and cut a chunk out of the wall to reveal: NOTHING. No crack in the foundation. At least not in that room. Suspicion now lies with the adjacent laundry room.
It appears that the previous owners of the house had some investigation done in the past regarding similar problems. This, deduced by the strange squares cut out of the sub floor and then patched, and the silicone seal applied around the base of the laundry room floor (at the junction of linoleum and wall). You’d think they may have mentioned this on their property disclosure sheet under: “have you had, or do you know of problems of water in the basement for this house?” (I’m paraphrasing, but that’s about what it amounts to.)
The completion of the spare bedroom / office could now be months away, and likely not cheap (if we ever DO find the source of the water).

What this means for the new homeowners (hi again!) is that we’ll continue to investigate the walls and floors, but we’ll have to rip out at least one more wall, and possibly the sub floor in the laundry room. This irks me firstly because the reason we were so happy with the layout of this house is because even though it’s a bungalow, 75% of it is above-ground (it’s built into a hill) and it’s completely finished in the basement. Secondly, I know the more people you get involved in clean-ups and fix-ups, the more expensive it gets, and the more time it takes. Thirdly, if I I didn’t have a job to work, I could help or take on most of these things, but the level of chaos in our lives means that I would get around to it about the same time I’d get around to fixing up that old lawnmower that seized up two years ago because I didn’t put any oil in it (I refer you to my Social Science degree for more information on my mechanical prowess).

I’m therefore putting this all in The Lovely Wife’s capable hands (which she’ll do while juggling the Toddler and his little brother, and doing some work at her office every week, and gearing up for the Canadian Ultimate Championships later this week --- Oh, did I mention she’s fantastically organized?) and just praying the overall bill doesn’t cause me a heart attack, or send me into a blinding rage, running about knees-bent, wielding my teeny tiny wrecking bar that I attempted to pry up the sub-floor with before acquiescing to the general skill and strong back of grunt labour.

Oh, and before you ask, I’ll tell you that our lawyer now knows about the situation and we’ve been told to get diagnoses and estimates from at least two contractors as to how much it’ll take to rectify this. I’m kind of a wimp about stuff like this and would rather the problem just go away, instead of bringing lawyers into it to try and get some “justice”. But as I said to The Lovely Wife yesterday, I suppose I should be pissed off that the previous owners likely knew all about this but didn’t bother to note it to potential buyers.

So now I’m hoping that pissed-off overcomes squeamish & spineless. If paper can beat rock, surely it’s possible.

Posted bythemikestand at 11:22 AM  

4 stepped up to the mike:

Jessica said... 1:24 PM, August 14, 2006  

Ack! And for the record, paper ALWAYS beats rock.

Megan said... 7:13 AM, August 15, 2006  

Yikes. So sorry to hear that you are having problems with your new place. That must be really frustrating. My dad does that stuff and is really reliable, but then he is in Colorado. Good luck.

Christine said... 8:10 AM, August 15, 2006  

one of the many things I hate about home-buying. here in ontario, i don't think you need to disclose that stuff, but we're also STRONGLY encouraged to get a home inspection done by a registered home inspector.

which, interestingly enough, is useless because you sign a paper saying they are only making recommendations and that you can't hold them liable if any problems come up.

an entirely evil procedure, all the way around.

themikestand said... 10:34 AM, August 15, 2006  

christine: Our home inspector is well-known in the industry as being extremely thorough. And yeah, they're not liable for much they've missed. Our realtor has faxed the paperwork to the lawyer, indicating their lack of indication.

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