With disastrous flooding becoming an annual event in parts of Canada, waterproofing properties is imperative.
While some flood damage is well-nigh impossible to prevent—as residents in Montreal, Ottawa and Bracebridge have sadly learned—some precautions can avert minor flooding from metastasizing into an astronomical remediation bill.
Lee Strauss, owner of Strauss Investments, had the basement of an unoccupied investment property flood years back while he was out of town. By the time he returned, water had been flooding into the basement for five days, and with his insurance company reticent to step in, he rented a dump truck and paid the cost of remediation to prevent any further damage lest more mould accumulate.
He eventually received his claim but because the property wasn’t tenanted, the insurance didn’t cover lost rental income.
“The whole remediation process took about six months, and with rent averaging about $1,800 a month, do the math,” said Strauss.
A property can flood for different reasons, including because of water lines running below old homes.
“The metals have had time to rot and decay, and one day they give in because they’re always under pressure and it can pool beneath the basement floor, then rise,” said Strauss. “One of the easiest ways to alleviate it before it even happens is to make sure the property has proper drainage. Make sure the downs spouts are directed away from the house. Far too often, you’ll see somebody take it off to cut the lawn, but if they get a torrential downpour and the spout isn’t facing away from the house, it directs the water towards the foundation and it runs around the house until it finds its way in.”
Concrete basement walls can, fortunately, reduce the chances of water seeping in from the outside. Building code requires houses to be constructed with sump pumps, and plastic wrapping around the building structure also does its part to stop water from getting in.
Claude Boiron, a real estate broker, author, university instructor, and founder of Boiron Group, actively seeks out the latest technical methods of flood prevention for his cleints, but he also has a simple recommendation.
“People have been doing exterior waterproofing of their foundation for decades,” he said, “but the newer mentality is, if you have exposed basement walls, it’s more beneficial and safer, not to mention cheaper, to waterproof the foundation from the inside.”
While it’s true that people typically think of their homes as investments—and with good reason—Boiron also tells people whose homes were flood casualties that there are other things to consider, too.
“The conversation I like to have, as a parallel to the financial one, is about lifestyle and family,” he continued. “If a client says they have had flooding occur twice and that they can’t stomach the thought of it happening again, even if they have good insurance coverage, I seriously speak to them about alternatives.”
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