Over the years we've heard many waterproofing contractor horror stories from residential customers in need of basement waterproofing or basement leak repairs. Unlike electricians and plumbers, waterproofing contractors in Ontario are not regulated; therefore, any person or company with a shovel or excavator can claim that they are a waterproofing contractor or that they are fully capable of waterproofing your basement. The horror stories we've heard range from contractors that disappear long before the work is done (once they have most of your money) to waterproofing the wrong place, or gross incompetence and/or unprofessional business practices. The most frequent complaint is that contractors never respond to customer telephone calls for warranty service even though the customer has a lifetime, or other, warranty in their possession. We have published this article on our website because we believe that consumers would benefit the most from waterproofer hiring advice if that advice was provided by a waterproofing contractor.
We don't believe there is an absolute foolproof way to protect yourself from a contractor's incompetence and/or lack of professionalism however, you can certainly take several measures to dramatically reduce the likelihood that you will regret having hired a certain person or contractor to waterproof your foundation.
Steps You Must Take Before You Hire Any Person or Company to Waterproof Your Basement
- Look up the business at http://www.bbb.org. The information provided by the Better Business Bureau (BBB) includes the business' rating by the BBB (an indication of the satisfaction of its customers), the accreditation or membership status of the company with the BBB, how long the business has been in operation, as well as information concerning complaints received;
- Look up the business online to determine if the company's marketing is mainly focused on basement waterproofing; only bona fide waterproofing contractors would choose to focus their marketing on this market niche; and
- Consider how the waterproofing services are being advertised. A contractor that advertises in directories such as Yellow Pages® spends a lot of money doing so therefore, they must be serious about being recognized as a professional company in the industry. If you call a company that posts signs on street lamps or street corners, how likely is it that you will ever find the company, the owner, or even the address of the company if something is not to your satisfaction? Have you ever noticed that street signs, and the like, only appear immediately prior to the rainy seasons? Clearly, these companies are trying to capitalize on periods of high market demand and are probably not normally in the business full-time.
At this point you probably expect that we would recommend that you ask a waterproofer for references but we don't believe there is any value in doing that for the following reasons:
- No one will provide you with references that will give you a negative review so expect to hear only positive reviews from the references proffered; and
- Unlike a contractor that builds a home or finishes a basement, it isn't possible to assess the quality of a Waterproofing Contractor's work unless you possess the requisite expertise in the domain. Only with the passage of time will the adequacy and effectiveness of waterproofing work be proven. Consequently, referrals from friends are only of true value if the work was done at least five years ago.
Other Points to Consider When Hiring a Basement Waterproofing Company
As we mentioned previously, we cannot provide you with a sure fire way to protect yourself against fraudsters, incompetence or people and companies without integrity because it is virtually impossible to do so. However, we can offer you a few more pointers to help you be as informed as possible:
- Recognize that the service you receive during your first interaction with a company is often indicative of what you can expect in the future; for example, if your call is not returned for days, imagine what you will experience when you call for warranty service.
- Consider the quality of a company's advertising and website; if you are not impressed, chances are that you won't be impressed by the quality of their work they'll propose to perform.
- Assess the quality of the sales presentation and the accompanying forms. If the forms lack detail, then you are relying upon verbal promises that will more than likely be denied.
- Educate yourself. The internet is a powerful learning tool and, as you have probably heard it said, "the devil is in the details". Yes, you will read differing opinions on best practices but, at least, you will be prepared to weed out the charlatans who try to sell you their services.
- Ask questions. Have the contractor tell you exactly what they will do, why their products are the best and why their technicians are the finest. Ultimately, the individual(s) performing the work is of vital importance. If they are untrained, complacent in the execution of their work, or even dishonest, you will have a nightmare on your hands.
- Decline to hire a contractor who doesn't specialize in the foundation waterproofing field. Without the necessary expertise no one can know the best products and/or practices for this type of work.
There are other considerations and factors in the hiring of a contractor but, at the end of the day, if you apply logic and trust your gut feeling, your decision will likely be the right one.
For more information on the topic of hiring waterproofing contractors, written from a different perspective, visit our webpage How do I choose the right company to waterproof my foundation?