BPN is now a 501(c)(3) non-profit and we are building a new website!
Read more, and see how you can help:
Drainage & Waterproofing
Please note: this page contains reviews and opinions sent in by
Berkeley Parents Network subscribers. Your
own experience may be different. Please always check references first!
Berkeley Parents Network >
House & Garden >
Drainage & Waterproofing
Contractors for water leaks
Has anyone hired Karl Kardel or Dan Lynch concerning rain
Karl Kardel- We used Karl Kardel a few years ago and had a
very bad experience... said he couldn't recommend a fix
until he did a whole analysis of the house. Now that seemed
reasonable, however he charged a lot for the analysis but
never provided us with a concrete report. He took a lot of
pictures, charged us for them, charged us to Fed Ex any
communications, charged, charged, charged. Charges like an
attorney. Never did get an estimate for what work he would
recommend (should have been based on the analysis), had a
hell of a time getting the photos from him (he claimed that
they were his, not mine???) and 'caulked' the whole thing up
to a learning experience. I did finally get to talk to
someone who used him and his house was worse off afterwards.
What is most interesting to me is that one of the main leaks
that we were concerned with was resolved by putting a cover
on an attic vent -- a solution that was not in Karl's
analysis. We still have one that alludes us but Karl said it
was a roof issue and it is not.
If you need to use Karl as an expert witness in a court
case, however, he's your man. Slick, bowls over anyone with
his non-stop talking, sounds like he knows everything there
is to know about leaks and what other contractors have done
to cause them. People can be so impressed with someone who
seems to have all the answers and Karl is the king of 'I
Hope that helps...
Underground springs in Kensington
We live in Kensington where there are underwater springs.
We want to have someone excellent come out to answer some
questions for us about the state of our lot and accumulation
of water in certain areas, suggestions for french drain etc.
Looking for very reputable professional/company.
We put in french and surface drains around our house last
fall and were happy with All Seasons Construction
(http://www.all-seasons-construction.com/). I felt like the
owner, Mark, didn't blow a bunch of hot air when it came to
advising how much we needed to do, and was honest and
detailed in his recommendations. The company has great
customer service, which is sadly very rare for many others
in the industry. I thought at first his price was on the
high side, but after I looked carefully at what was included
(for example, he was including a higher quality, more
expensive sump pump that others were trying to charge extra
for), it turned out that their price was really quite
reasonable. Good luck! jisun
We live in Kensington and had a french drain put in by Ward
Construction after we moved in due to rain and ground water
seepage into our basement. They did a great job and it's
been 8 years since the french drain went in-- no flooding!
Good luck. anon
Soils Engineer - basement drainage problem
I'd like to ask if anyone can recommend a soils engineer
with whom they've had a good experience (or alert me to one
with whom they haven't had such a good experience)? I have
basement ground water intrusion in a hillside house that
fairly recently had french drains and a sump pumb installed.
The work was completed in the last year (as a bank-owned
property, prior to my owning the house) and simply isn't
sufficient when heavy rains bring extra groundwater. I'd
like to have a soils engineer--or possibly a structural
engineer with drainage expertise--draft a plan that would
provide adequate drainage for my house. At this point, I
don't need a contractor but rather someone to put together a
plan. Thanks much! William
Three recommendations for very qualified soil/drainage
engineers who could assist you. James Pearl at 339-6655. Tom
Ochsner at 534-1565. Roger Thompson at 658-9444. Roger
I don't know if he can help you, but I can highly recommend
my geotech, William K. Langbehn, 510-558-8028. My
experience is that Soils Engineers don't really work out the
details, but rather make recommendations that Civil
Engineers carry out through their details, so you might be
better off with an engineer with drainage experience. Try
calling Dave Helmich, 510-482-9649. Good Luck! Andus
Moisture seeping into slab floor
We are in need of a solid contractor and/or engineer to
assess our needs (opinion, plan, and drawings if necessary)
and hopefully perform the corrective action necessitated by
the problems we are having with our yard. Apparently, we
have excessive moisture seeping into our on- grade concrete
slab floor that in turn evaporates up and creates excessive
humidity in our home (built early 1960s) which is the
perfect environment for mold growth.
We already have calibrated moisture readings showing that
the concrete moisture is much higher at the perimeter walls
of our home (even in August 2011 - had been no rain since
June 2011). Tacks trips on perimeter walls under the carpet
show moisture wear, carpet tack nails are rusted, and
underside of carpet has rust spots from nails. The problem
gets much worse in the rainy/winter season.
Proposed solutions have included:  removing dirt from the
entire yard to lower grade relative to the exterior stucco
of our home  trenching down 11 ft to the floor of our
garage beneath us to install a proper drainage system along
the side of the property  installation of waterproofing
membrane/weep screed to our stucco exterior  installing
or improving waterproofing of retaining wall that surrounds
our yard and our subterranean garage.
Like everyone, we are looking for a knowledgeable,
reasonably priced, solid professional (contractor, builder,
engineer or multiple persons if that's the way this works)
with significant experience in foundation/drainage issues.
Whether the water is seeping into the side of the slab
during rains (as we suspect) or there is a concealed broken
pipe or something else, we really need help.
Thank you all in advance for your recommendations.
I strongly recommend Peter Buhon of Bluhon Design and
Environment (510.841.3255). Our 30 year old asphalt driveway
was fast eroding and constantly wet, due to lack of
drainage. I met with 3 contractors to discuss the problem.
One contractor said I needed a soil engineer to analyze the
drainage problem and wouldnC",b"t touch the project without one.
A second from a large company gave a cookie cutter response
and the highest quote. Peter stood out because he thought
about the site and suggested two major improvements in
grading and design that gave us a more functional and
attractive cement driveway. There was a problem with the
slope of the driveway and he came back and re-laid the
asphalt apron connecting the driveway to the street at no
additional cost, solving the problem in a day. I appreciated
his professionalism, attention to aesthetics and the care he
gave our small project. I recommend him enthusiastically.
Alameda Structural. Speak to George Walton
They did our foundation several years ago. I've put off the
drainage work but will call them to do it in the future.They
are excellent, reliable, responsible and very well-priced.
Call George! Carol
I highly recommend Eric Burtt. He is a
contractor/builder/engineer with lots of experience. He
recently helped us determine what to do and how to
prioritize the options. The list you included is probably
the same list he will give you, but he can explain clearly
what options do what and how to prioritize them. Call him
directly at 510-540-0155. . Andus
In response to your BPN question I want to encourage you to
call Mircea Ilie at 510-459-5502. He rebuilt the entire
foundation of an investment property I purchased a few years
ago, and I know he's built and retrofitted the foundations
of many Bay Area properties over the past 15+ years. When
the inspector came to do the final inspection he told me I
was lucky to have found Mircea, and that many
'problem-properties' in Berkeley were fixed thanks to him.
Mircea will likely be able to pinpoint the problem you have
and help you fix it properly and quickly for a very
reasonable price. GOod luck! Anushka
Who To Call for Backyard Drainage Help?
Our backyard appears, at first glance, to be fairly flat.
However, as proven when it rains heavily, there is actually
a tilt towards the house. This means that, when it rains,
we end up with a HUGE 'lake' piled up next to the house. We
have a slab foundation so we don't need to worry about
leakage into a crawlspace, but I'm pretty sure that having
that kind of water next to the house isn't a good thing. I
honestly don't know who to call about fixing this. Do I
need a french drain installed? Are there other fixes
possible? There appears to be a drain on the side of the
house (going where?) and maybe we could tie a drain into
that one? Who would do this kind of work? Do I need to call
a plumber? Are there such things as Drainage Specialists
for landscaping? Clueless
We have a slab foundation and yes, you should still worry!
We had water last year come up from the water-soaked ground
through the slab and into the house. We had french drains
installed around the house to draw water away from the slab
and foundation by All Seasons Construction. They did a
great job but is isnt cheap! but flooding is very expensive
We used another company to put in our backyard drain but
they aren't operating any more. A number of our neighbors
have used Bay Area Drainage with good results. They are
They are Diamond Certified.
I want to recommend Van Every Construction in Oakland.
Drainage is one of Van Every Construction's specialties -
they solve problems others fail to. Friends just had work
done and they raved about how '...reliable, trustworthy,
caring about their craft, and their property was cleaned up
each day!!' Also, 'All charges were reviewed and ok'ed by
us during the process - no unhappy surprises' They really
valued Van Every's expertise and excellent communication.
510-839- 5810. Nina
Call Arturo Arreola. Great person, hard worker, master
tiler, has done a number of garden drain system. Call
Need a French drain in Walnut Creek
I need to find person or company that can put in French
drain in backyard in Walnut Creek. If you've had a good
experience or can recommend a good lead, pls let me know.
Thanks. --WC homeowner
We had our french drain put in 20 years ago, but that guy
isn't in business anymore.
A couple of our neighbors used Bay Area Drainage:
They aren't cheap, but they do good work. They are Diamond
Certified so you can check them out that way too.
Dave Ford of J. David Ford Construction (510-845-9076) did a
great job installing a drain in our basement. He suggested
a French drain but we opted for a less expensive
alternative, which seems fine so far. (I'm sure he would
have done a good job on a French drain, as well!) He also
replaced half our foundation. Unlike most of the
contractors we've dealt with, Dave completed everything on
time and charged us exactly what he said he would.
Furthermore, he didn't ask for full payment until
*everything* was done, including filing for retrofitting
reimbursement from the city of Berkeley (which he did for
us). Dave also did some foundation work for us at a
previous house 10 years ago. We recommend him
enthusiastically. N.L. H
Drainage Specialist Needed
Looking for a real master who is adept in older drainage systems and weep
holes. Probably needs to have a camera to try to figure out how this system is
Thank you in advance.
Martin Hossan replaced my dead sump pump and rerouted my
French drain to mitigate the flooding in our basement.
We're dry now and the musty smell is going away. Good
job. Martin Hossan 510-336-3678 ..
Water leaking into room from deck above
We have a roof deck that opens out from a room on our third
floor, and sits on top of a room on our second floor. For the
second year, water is leaking in through the ceiling of the
second floor room from the deck above when it rains. The floor
of the deck is tile - we're not sure what is underneath the
tile (we moved in 2 years ago). I have heard that these types
of decks are extremely difficult to water proof, and that we
could spend thousands of dollars pulling up the tile and re-
roofing the floor of the deck, only to have it fail again in a
few years. Has anyone successfully waterproofed this type of
deck and had it hold long term? If so, how did you do it / who
did you use to do the work? Also interested in other potential
solutions, such as an awning. We looked into enclosing the
deck and turning it into a room, but that would cost more than
we want to spend right now.
We used Dan Lynch Waterproofing for a leaking issue we had
earlier this year. He fixed our problem quickly, and for a very
reasonable price. He was thorough and professional. I would
highly recommend him. His contact information is: (510)524-4044
Roof decks, walk on roof, pain in the neck. you can call them all
those things. I had a flat walk on roof on a 1921 home. I
installed a :n per foot pitch for drainage. this required
ripping off old deck surface, adding sleepers to create the
That said, a carefully planned and executed project is possible
to give you a dry house. Options for decking besides tile exist,
all roof decks require maintenance though. Removable wood
sections over a roof membrane, Gaco rubber paint over new deck
surface, new tile over a metal pan. etc. etc.
The well designed enclosed porch space is also a great idea.
I have two roof decks on my home, they haven't leaked for 6
years, but need annual or bi-annual attention (maintenance and
love and keeping it clean).
We need a contractor/detective to track down the source and
repair an exterior wall leak. Moisture is seeping into the
house near the top of a wall on the lower level of our house
and does not appear to be related to the roof or gutters, but
may involve the chimney. This leak has already stumped a couple
of contractors, so would appreciate recommendations for a
I, once again, thought that I had resolved a couple of
long-standing leaks, but recent rains have proved otherwise. I
have had every contractor imaginable out to the house --
so-called-leak experts, roofers, waterproofers, etc, etc and
still have leaks. I am now investigating hiring someone who does
infrared camera leak detection. I think the service is $500 and
that may seem like a lot, but I have spent thousands and am still
not 100% dry.
You mention the chimney, This is usually a roofing problem,
flashing something up there. The concrete/block wall is a
different story. If you are getting moisture or flowing water,
after all heavy rain, that is a water proofing problem, this is
much bigger. The exterior of the wall has to be completely
excavated, clean and a water proof membering apply, at the same
time a drain and drain rock should be placed at the bottom of
that excavation and allowed to drain.
Good luck, if you have any more question, feel free to ask.
Leaks are a pain to resolve -- I have chased some for years and
finally found that the best way to start is with the roof and
then work your way down. It only takes a very small hole to let
in a lot of water and water travels -- it can come from the
weirdest places and end up feet away from its entry point. Get a
good roofer to come an inspect the roof and all the flashings
around the chimney and around any vent pipes. Have a chimney
sweep (I highly recommend Irish Sweep) come out and take a look
at the chimney. Have a good painting contractor who specializes
in waterproofing (not all do), come out and take a look at the
walls and seals around windows. I used PAC WEST painting 415 457
0724 and I am still thrilled that they were able to find and
patch a small hole that was letting water into the crawl space
for decades. The hole was in a piece of molding on the underside
of the roof -- stories above.
I want to specifically not recommend contractor Mircea Ilie.
He did a major remodel for our house, including move the
bathroom and kitchen and add a master bathroom. While he
certainly completed the project on time, and has great choices
for wall colors, our drainage system is now totally screwed up
to where we have inches of water underneath the back of the new
bathroom each rainy season; we also had a major leak from the
tub he installed (as well as in two other places), very poor
crawlspace ventilation, and ensuing mold growth in under the
new bathroom, and poor roofing and foundation details. When we
kept complaining about the musty smell, and then finally found
the cause ourselves, he said it wasn't his problem. While he
has great intentions, and tries to be very accomodating, his
technical knowledge is simply insufficient. I posted a similar
post before on this forum, but somehow it has been deleted or
unhappy with remodel
I am looking for a drainage contractor work on our basement
remodel. We will need to install proper drainage below our new
concrete slab, as well as new drainage pipes along the side of
our house. If anyone has a good contractor to recommend for
this job, please let me know!
We had a French drain, patio and surface drains installed by
All Seasons Construction, 510-525-7123. The crew was great and
the job was finished very promptly. The guys worked very hard
and were polite. The owner, Mark, was very professional and was
very concerned that we were 100% satisfied. We were later
contacted by Diamond certified about our experience and gave
ASC good reviews. We recently got a letter indicating that
they had achieved Diamond Certification, which I understand is
not easy to do.
I am looking for a good, resonable priced, drainage expert,
someone with experience in putting in ''french drains'' which is
what I've been told I need to fix a water leak in my home.
We had a great experience with All Seasons Contruction in
Berkeley. The owner was very professional, prompt to respond
to our inquiries, and very knowledgable. They designed a
solution that made a lot of sense and has worked well for us.
The crew worked very hard every minute on the job. With all
the digging and soil removal, it was messy job but they cleaned
up every evening and kept the mess to a minimum. We would
definitely recommend ASC. They are at 510-525-7123.
We are huge fans of MW Construction. We recently bought a pile of bricks for a
house and knew it had drainage and foundation problems. It turned out to be a
MASSIVE drainage problem and Mark and his crew took care of it like it was no big
deal. MW's bid was fair and straight forward. They stayed on budget, arrived on time
every day, left the basement cleaner than when they started and all with a good
attitude. They were completely kind to my toddler, she still wanders around looking
After they finished the drainage, it rained the next day so Mark was able to show me
exactly how the new system was working. They also built us a great new deck using
geo-deck (like Trex) and fixed the foundation. They completed all of this work
(including drainage) in two weeks.
Mark also pointed out that our pond was most likely leaking and adding to the
drainage issue (he was right). He and his crew even fixed a sad, broken doorknob
for us as they were waiting out a rainstorm. I wish they did kitchens! We will
definitely use them again for our seismic upgrade. Highly recommended. Their
number is 510-527-1725.
I am wondering whether anyone has any feedback about Karl
Kardel. If you've used his services for your residence. I
would like to know about your experience and if you think it was
worth the cost. Thanks!
East Bay homeowner
We used Karl Kardel's services as a waterproofer several years
ago. He did the job badly, returned once to correct it, and when
we told him we still had leaks, he told us the job was done and
stopped returning our calls. He also disregarded another request
we made to him. We had to hire another company to finish the job.
We had a very bad experience with Karl Kardel. They have never
completed our job and the deck still leaks. If they had been
successful I would still have to rate them as poor due to their
poor attention to detail. Also when you check their references
the subs they actually use are not the ones they are able to
hire. Dan Lynch (now out on his own - Dan Lynch Waterproofing)
did a very poor job of supervising this job. I agree with the
comments made by the previous poster about Kardel. This is a
very unpleasant company to work with. They spin a good story but
do not follow through to completion.
Karl Kardell is currently doing a major restoration project on
our house which will result in the removal/replacement of all
stucco, windows, roof, etc. We have been very pleased with him
and his firm. Karl has been very responsive and professional,
has helped us negotiate with the insurance carrier, and
innovative in implementing waterproofing solutions; he is an
expert with regard to water intrusion particularly due to high
winds in the Oakland Hills. His project manager Aaron has been
just wonderful as well as has the work crew. The entire firm
is really topnotch. I recommend them highly and would not buy
a stucco home in the Oakland Hills without first consulting
we are going to do backyard demo (asphalt and old garage) and
then put in french drains and a yard. The first thing we need is
a demo guy with insurance, b/c the garage is up against our
neighbors garage. Ideally, the demo person could also do the
drains and maybe even the fences, etc.
Thanks for your suggestions,
Hi - we used Lance Capilla of Alameda Engineering for our french
drains. He is prompt about returning calls and gives a good
estimate of his work. While he is not inexpensive, he is
licensed and I trust his work.
We've been living with a muddy, swampy backyard lawn (and subsequent flooding in
our basement on rainy days) for 6 years now, and are ready to fix the problem...I found
reviews from 4 years ago--anyone have recent experience with an honest, smart
contractor who can fix this type of problem? Thanks
I wanted to recommend Mark from MW construction (510-527-
1725). I got his name from BPN and he totally lived up to his
reputation. We had a situation that sounds silmilar to yours;
our back yard was always spongy and during the rainy months a
lake would form for weeks, flooding our basement.
Mark not only fixed the swamp in the backyard, but his
recommendation for putting a drain in the basement was much
less expensive than the french drain other contractors had
suggested. Everything works beautifully, and our basement
stayed dry even during last year's super rains.
I don't think you can go wrong the MW Construction. Good luck.
We couldn't have been more pleased with Mark from MW
Construction (510-527-0705). We had three people come out to
take a look at our basement which flooded any time there was
more than a moderate amount of rain. Each person had something
different to recommend. We finally called in an drainage
consultant (Tom Anderberg - 510-482-2779 ), who said of the
three approaches he'd do something most like Mark's design.
We were not only pleased with the result (our basement was dry
during the most heavy rains last spring), but the service was
exceptional as well. Mark and his workers were very
professional, they cleaned up each day, and got the job done in
less time than promised. Mark even called and came back after
the first heavy rains to make sure everything was working. I
can't recommend them more highly.
After getting recommendations for Mark Wijsen (MW Construction) from this
my husband and I called him to take a look at our drainage problems. He came
and was very friendly and helpful. He provided us with an estimate, which was
significantly less than the other two contractors we had come out. We were
hire him and asked him to come back out and walk us through the work he was
planning to do. When he came back, he was a completely different person.
When we asked him
questions, he gave us short answers and acted like we were troubling him. I
not recommend him. I was surprised at the way he conducted
I am posting a recommendation for the services of Manuel
Garcia. Manuel helped us resolve a problem with water pooling
around the foundation we replaced three years agao. We were so
impressed with him. He changed the location of our sump pump
after he pointed out that the water was actually pooling in a
different area than where we had been advised to place it. He
also installed French drains for us, even working in the rain
(as he said, he ''wanted to see what the water was doing''!).
Manuel speaks excellent English, and was wonderful to work
with. He has a very strong work ethic and a lot of integrity--
he keeps checking back in with us to make sure things are going
well. Despite a very rainy winter, we have had no further
problems with water. I would not hesitate to hire him again for other
work. Although I cannot speak for his other abilities, he also
does carpentry and landscaping. You can reach Manuel at 652-
Wet soil causing floors to buckle
I am having problems with wet soil under my house causing my wood floors to buckle. I had a soil engineer come out and draw up plans for some drainage. Everyone who has come out to give bids on the drainage has given different opinions: you don't need drainage, just adjust your sprinkler system; you need $15,000 worth of drainage; you don't need drainage, you need more ventilation; you need a cement slab or vapor cover under your house....
Does anyone have a recommendation for someone who will really help to analyze the problem? I thought I had a pretty straightforward issue, but am now totally confused about the best way to solve the problem!
This is the reply from my husband Mark, a drainage contractor...
There are always a variety of approaches to every drainage issue, and the most expensive
isn't always the best value.
From what you describ, runoff from your irrigation system may be the entire problem. If
it weren't for the damage to your floors, I'd urge you to cut back on your watering,
install some venting and monitor the situation over several months. If this solves the
problem then you just saved thousands of dollars.
However, the fact that your floors are buckling, not only suggests that the amount of
water under your home is excessive, but adds a new level of urgency to your problem. Even
if taking the steps above seemed to solve the problem, you are still very vulnerable to
heavy rainfall and the possibility of runoff from adjacent properties. These events
beyond your control put your home at risk for continued damage.
That said it is probably worth your while to install some sort of system to collect water
and direct it away from your home. There are many alternatives to expensive exterior
"French Drain" perimeter systems, including interior options like strip drains and sump
pumps. Not having seen your property it is impossible to suggest what might
work best for
Finally a vapor barrrier is a good idea if installed in conjuction with a well-designed
drainage system. Mark would not recommend putting one in until you are confident you a
have a solution as it could mask a problem that could lead to damage to your foundation.
It sounds like you have more professional opinions than you need, but if you'd like
another, Mark is always happy to come out and take a look.
Mark Wijsen, MW Construction 510-527-0705
Water seeping into our house
We have had water seepage into our home from under a window. This is not a drainage problem, and there are no visible cracks from outside the house. We are looking for someone who can help us with this problem, which is too small for big companies. Thanks in advance for feedback and referrals.
We had a huge drainage problem with water under our house many months of the year. We live at the bottom of a hill in Oakland and a lot of water came into our yard, mostly underground water. I can recommend Jose Curiel for any drainage problems. He and his crew put in a drainage systen behind a wall that goes under a hot tub and drains water to both side of our yard. He connected the drainage system with our roof gutters, a drain he put in through a storage room, a sump pump, a drain he installed at the bottom of a pathway, and a drainage system he put in our soggy lawn. I am happy to say our house is drying out even though the sump pump is working much less frequently. Our soggy lawn is also becoming less swamp-like too. All of this water goes to the street and is no longer damaging the foundation of our house. Jose is not licensed and charges by the day. He and his crew work very hard and are on the job every day before 7:30 am. He can solve difficult problems!
and has many years of experience. His number is 510-821-4270. Feel free to contact me.
RE: Waterproofing Contractor
To the person looking for a contractor to replace leaking front porch, including membrane and tile: we can highly recommend WHL Waterproofing ((925) 284-5306). Bill Lambert is the owner and the one with whom we dealt; he also was here working and closely supervising the project. We had a very similar situation--our front porch was leaking into a downstairs bedroom closet. Bill ripped out the existing tile (and 2 and 1/2 tons of concrete!), replaced the membrane and then replaced the tile again. He subs out the tile and stucco work (they had to replace the flashing at the bottom of our stucco walls), and we found the sub contractors to do an excellent job, as well. The project lasted about 4 weeks, about a week longer than it should have, due to weather (this was done this past spring). We found Bill to be easy to work with and very responsible--he and his crew did a great job. (well, I guess we won't know for sure until the rains this winter! but they did test it) Good luck.
Excellent Drainage Work
We had Comacho Landscaping do our French Drains, after a
recommendation from a friend who used them. I was blown
away by how inexpensive his bid was, but he did everything
the more expensive companies said they'd do. His workers
were friendly and finished the job early! They were also
able to help out with a few other outdoor issues we wanted
done. I highly recommend you give them a call. Ask for
Ruben and tell him I sent you.415.845.8753
We are in need of some foundation work and a french drain.
I saw some old posts and would like some updated
recommendations/contact information for
contractors/engineers, specifically from those who have had
similar work done AND have noticed a dry basement after a
year or two of rain. Also, does anyone suggest whether or
not to hire a soil engineer BEFORE we get bids from
contractors, or will the contractors suffice? When we
bought our house, the termite inspection done by RJ Clark
said that we needed a whole new foundation. But then the
inspector we hired said that only certain sections needed
to be done. After living in the place for one year, the
lower level(laundry room) leaks with heavy rain due to a
We had a french drain installed in 2000. When we bought
the house their was a sump pump in the basement and water
would come under the foundation to our sump pump. Ever
since the french drain was installed, our basement has been
completely dry and we do not need to use the sump pump in
the basement anymore. Greg Carsorso of Carsorso
Construction was the contractor. We initially met him at a
drainage seminar at Truitt and White. He stayed within his
estimated time frame and budget for completing the job. He
had excellent references. In fact, he is about to start
our large basement remodel project in about a week. His
phone number is: (510) 883-0844.
Hi, just wanted to recommend Ward Construction to you. We
had them come and do a french drain drainage system for us
when we moved into a new house and knew there was seepage
into the basement which we wanted to be able to use in the
winter. They did their work on time (actually finished
early), on budget (was the mid-range of the bids we got),
and best of all we have had no drainage problems for the
last two years since the work was done. Hope your work
We were having trouble with moisture coming into our basement. We had
an engineer come by and design an elaborate and expensive project for
us. We called Glen Larsen because a neighbor had used him, and he
came up and he came up and helped me trouble-shoot different ways to
address the problem. He come up with a simpler solution then the
engineer, and our basement has been dry for the past three years--at a
fraction of the cost! His number is 510-232-9122
An excellent drainage contractor is Steve Sanchez of All
Seasons Construction 510-685-0046. His company is located
in Berkeley and he has excellent references. Steve is very
professional and skilled.
Our neighbors have proposed this idea: they need to install
a drainage system under their retaining wall and backyard, a
french drain. We already have a french drain and they would
like to know if they can hook their system up to ours? The
theory being this would save expense and the excavation of a
side yard we share. My husband is not opposed to this idea,
but I am concerned about adding the extra burden off all
their water runoff into our system. Any advice, experience
This is according to my husband the drainage
In theory there are ways that you could tie in an existing
drainage system. It would depend largely on the size
and type of pipe you are accessing (Perforated? Closed?), the amount of volume your system is
handling, and where the tie in would be located within
However even assuming you have the perfect
combination of variables, he would highly discourage
sharing a drainage system. It opens up huge
questions of liability about who would be responsible if
the system ever failed. You and your current neighbors
may get along great, but you never know who could
move in next to you someday.
If you have any more questions feel free to email.
Our house has a sump pump in the crawl space, and the water goes
under the house into the crawl space. We talked to two drainage
companies, and both of them suggested to have a french drainage
installed except the price from one bid was doubled than the
other bid. Why would the price differ by that much?
Has anyone had french drainage installed lately? Any advice on
the drainage companies to choose from and what to watch out for?
Thank you so much.
I used Carty Construction a couple of years ago to put in French
drains. It was very expensive but well worth it. My next door
neighbor kept coming over and commenting on the quality of the
work. He had had French drains put in a couple of months before
us and he pointed out how Carty had dug deeper holes, used
bigger drains, etc.
In understanding the differences in the two bids you received you
might want to ask each for more specifics about what they would
do. Where will they put in catch basins, how deep will they be,
where will the water drain to (will they build underground drains
out to the street, etc.
My husband is a contractor who specializes in this type
of work. Let me share some information...
If a french drain is not properly installed, it can wind up
creating a worse situation than what you started
with--all the water collected in the trenches seeps
through your foundation. If do you decide to go with this
sort of system you should ask the contractor whether
he can guarantee that your problems will be solved,
CHECK REFERENCES, and remember more
expensive doesn't always equal better.
That said, though the cost of french drains suggests
that they are some perfect solution to all drainage
woes, in many cases there are more effective, less
expensive approaches, especially with the type of
moisture found in the East Bay. Ask your contractor
Hopefully all of this helps. If you want additional info,
email or call my husband Mark. He can evalute your
situation and make specific recommendations.
MW construction 510-527-1725
(Abundant references can be supplied upon request)
I need to know where I can get reliable information about
installing french drains around the foundation of my house.
Specifically I am concerned about how they perform in an
earthquake. I have gotten bids from four contractors and they
give conflicting advice. Two of them say that they will dig
down to the base of the foundation, then move a foot away
from the foundation and dig down a foot further. They then
install the perforated pipe at the bottom of the deepest part
of the trench. One contractor digs a foot or two below the
foundation without moving any distance away from it once they
reach its bottom. Yet a fourth contractor only digs to the
bottom of the foundation. Since the latter two have given me
the lowest bids, I'm wondering if 1) the drain installed at
the base of the foundation (i.e. by the guy who only digs down
to the base) will be adequate to solve the basement flooding
problem, and 2) if the drain installed by digging below the
foundation without moving the trench to the side will
destabilize my foundation in the event of an earthquake. The
contractor claims that the gravel with which they backfill the
trench is sufficient to hold the foundation in place, but I'm
skeptical. I would appreciate any comments, and especially
advice on where to find good information on this problem.
For reliable information about installing french drains, I would
suggest that you contact Brockman Engineering Contractors
(925)634-2899. They work with a geologist who is a soil and
drainage expert. My understanding is that any general contractor
may offer the service of installing a french drain - this does not
mean that this contractor is an expert. We just purchased a home
were there is a significant drainage issue. We had an engineer who
did a thorough inspection under the house, inspected the foundation,
the sump pump, the soil, the downspouts, etc. But they are not cheap.
Although not an expert, I doubt digging at the base of the foundation
would work - this is what the previous contractor did that actually
owned the house - there's gravel around the base of the house - and
there's still water under the house! The engineer from Brockman
Engineering proposed digging a trench around the house, but not at
the foundation - away from the foundation. My understanding is that
ideally, you want to move away or keep water from reaching the
foundation in the first place. How is digging a trench at the
foundation going to help? Again, I am not an expert - so I guess
it's best to seek advice of the experts. I would be interested in
what others have to say regarding the issue.
We are in the process of discussing this same topic with drainage
specialists and landscape contractors and have been getting varied
recommendations as well. Would love to talk with you Carl about what
you find out or to just let you know what we've been told so far.
We just recently had a french drain installed. We went to a
seminar at Truitt & White which was given by Greg Casorso. He
does both seismic and drainage work. Although you do have to
pay him $50.00 for an estimate, it seems well worth it. We also
got bids from several other drainage contractors and similar to
your situation, we were told various different methods. Although
Greg was the most expensive bid, I feel that he really knows what
he is doing. His references were excellent. It is worth having
him come out and give his advice. Casorso Construction
Various home repair books explain French Drains and you may want
to look at them so that you understand what they are all about
(like the big one they always sell at Home Depot, etc).
Foundation problems should always be looked at by an expert,
though, because they put your house at considerable risk. My
experience is also that different contractors will give you
very different bids. Ned Clyde is very professional and has
a good reputation, intermediate in price. We had to go to court
over our problem and the legal experts feel this company has a
first rate reputation. 925 698 5411.
When we bought our house, we knew we were going to have to do
drainage work. One of the first things we did was attend a
seminar offered by Truitt & White (Berkeley) -- well worth the
investment of our time. Greg Casorso (sp?) was the speaker, and
CLEARLY knew his business. We actually had him come to the house
(I believe it cost $50, but this was about 3-4 years ago) and
look at our specific situation. It was WELL worth the money, altho'
in the end we had another contractor do the work (also, we did not
do ALL of the work that Greg had recommended, figuring that we
could do more, later, when our budget allowed).
There are some very serious issues to consider, not the least of
which is potentially undermining your foundation. Good luck with
your research, and (ultimately) your project.
Hello, we have a house in Oakland that has had some funky
add-ons without accompanying downspouts. We have other
downspouts that pretty much dump water back toward the house
thanks to some bricked-in flowerbeds. Also, the house is on
a very slight slope and I need drainage help beyond
downspouts -- french drains? -- to get water away from the
house. Can anyone recommend an honest, dependable,
not-overly-pricey person (contractor? gutter company?) to
help us? I'm looking for someone who won't end up charging
us twice as much as the last estimate, won't take twice as
long as promised, won't have to skip town mid-project, etc.
All Seasons Construction specializes in drainage issues.
Call Steve Sanchez at 510-525-7123. He is an excellent,
honest, and reasonable contractor.
For foundation and drainage work, I highly recommend Mark
Wijsen of MW Construction (510-527-1725.) He is fabulous
to work with. He is prompt, courteous, and thoughtful in
his work. His after-work customer service (i.e. phone
calls, in-person visits to check on the work during heavy
rains, etc.) went well beyond our expectations. His work
was of high quality and he is very professional. We plan
to use him in the future when we pave our driveway. Feel
free to contact me with any follow-up.
I need some recommendations for a Drainage Contractor. I
have water coming in my basement from the foundation. I
have check out the old recommendations, but they are a few
years old and I would really like to get some current
I highly recommend Dave Olnes.
We've used his services a couple of times - different
houses - and he's always been excellent. And he won't cost
an arm and a leg! Contact info is:
Dave Olnes PE, Civil an Soil Engineer, 510.568.2162
All the best,
Editor note: Dave Olnes is not a contractor and he does not do
construction work. Rather he is a consultant, a Civil and Soil Engineer who specializes
in residential drainage and foundation problems. Therefore he
can't give you a free estimate on drainage work! However he can
provide consulting services for drainage problems.
We would get standing water under our house every time it rained
and even in the summer it was always damp. My husband and I
got several estimates and decided to work with Paul Carty of Carty
Construction (528-1565), Paul's estimate was in the middle and we felt like he knew just what to do. He and his workers were
friendly, professional, neat and fast. Within a week our drainage
problems were gone! Everything was done with permits and
totally by the books. Paul is a very honest guy and very easy to
work with. We highly recommend him! We were just sorry that we
didn't have the work done sooner. Thanks to Paul, this rainy
season was stress free for us and under our house stayed bone
Best of Luck,
Cindy and Jim
Help! After reading all the advice regarding drainage
under and around a house, and after having a number
of recommended contractors do bids, I am more
confused that ever! Some advise perimeter (french)
drains, some advise under-slab drains (we are about
to pour a slab and build living space in what is now a
dirt-floor basement), etc. etc. Our land is basically level
but floods in winter, and the slab will sit just above
grade. Anyone have any experience with this?
It is my opinion that if you think that you need drainage
work that it is best to first get a professional
consultation from a drainage expert who does not do the
installation work themselves. This is because they have the
full range of experience and expertise and are not there to
sell you on hiring them for the project.
Any drainage work is expensive, and it can be even more
expensive to redo if not done properly the first time. As a
landscaper, I have seen a lot of poorly done drainage work
that did not solve the problems that it was intended for.
I'd like to recommend my colleague Dan Szumski, a civil and
structural engineer who has been specializing in residential
drainage and foundation work in the Bay Area for about 20
years. He is very well versed in the soil structure and
water patterns here and is able to recommend the most
effective solution for problems. He can recommend
experienced contractors to do the work and he can do project
oversight. He can be reached at 510-829-0399.
It is worth the investment in a consultation to be sure that
you get the work that you really need- no more, no less.
Our new home has a very 'swampy' back yard (we bought it
in the summer when the problem wasn't evident). I'm not
sure what kind of contractor deals with this. I would
appreciate any recommendations from someone who has had a
We have used the same contractor for not one but TWO swampy
backyards in the last 4 years. He is very seasoned in determining
grades, understanding where the water is coming from and how to
divert it to the street or out of your way using piping and French
drains, sump pumps, whatever is needed. He's been doing
construction for 30 years and he seems to know what he's doing.
On our first house we called in a civil engineer to confirm what the
contractor said and I should've saved my time and money; the
engineer said EXACTLY the same thing. The contractor is Cecil
Pearson (510) 385-4253
Dan Szumski is a civil engineer who specializes in
foundation, seismic and drainage inspections and reports for
homeowners. He is down-to-earth, sensible, very
knowledgeable, and thorough. He did a seismic inspection for
me that clarified conflicting information that I had been
given by several contractors. I know other people who have
been very happy with his work and real estate people often
In my experience (live and learn), it is better to have the
planning done by someone like Dan rather than by an
installation contractor. It is a bit of extra cost up
front, but it means that you are getting a complete
evaluation by someone who does not have a stake in selling
you the job. He can give you names of contractors who can
do the installation of his recommendations.
Dan's number is 839-0399.
My husband Mark is a licensed general contractor who
specializes in drainage issues.
Our house also had a swampy yard that actually turned
into a small pond during the winter and spring. He
designed a system that completely dried things up. He
also stopped the water from sheeting across the
laundry room floor every time it rained.
I mentioned your problem to him, and he said the
solution depends entirely on the source of moisture
and the topography in the area. If you'd like he'd be
happy to come out and make a recommendation based
on your specific issues. Email or give him a call at
Our house has a sump pump and drainage system that was
installed several years ago. We have spotted leaks and
would like to have the entire system evaluated and
repaired where necessary. We have reviewed prior postings
on french drains and related topics; much of that advice
appeared to be related to installing drainage systems, and
we are more interested in maintenance.
In response to the post about the failing sump pump
system, my husband is a licensed contractor who
specializes in drainage systems. He would be happy
to take a look at your situation and make
In the meantime here are some tips for the future...
PUMP/DRAINLINE MAINTAINANCE: This is key for
prolonging the life of an existing system. Debris in the
lines/pump can lead to everything from leaks to pump
failure. You should have the system maintained twice a
year--at the start and end of the rainy season.
Depending on the type of system, there's a lot you can
*Flush drainlines with a high powered hose
*Place pump in a 5 gallon bucket of clean water and let
it cycle for 15 minutes give it a rest , then do it again
*Dig all the gunk out of the bottom of the sump well
Hopefully this is helpful. Again feel free to contact my
husband Mark if you need additional information or
want him to take a look at your system.
For drainage, can anyone give feedback on these companies:
Tom Morris, Art Ward Construction, Casorso Construction,
DeMarcus Drainage company.
Thank you so much
--We recently bought a house in the Kensington hills and had
to have a drainage trench dug around the house to prevent
the basement from repeated flooding. We got MANY bids, but
of the three you mentioned I only know of Ward
Construction-- but I know a lot of them because that is the
bid we went with. It was a reasonable bid (not the highest
or the lowest), and the company (Rick, their front man, and
Art Ward as well) that we felt did the most listening and
honest assessment of our problem. Their work crew started
early and worked hard, and they finished days ahead of
schedule. Ward Constr. is often pretty busy (we had to wait
2 months to get on their calendar for the actual work to
begin) but worth the wait-- we have had no flooding since
the trench and pipes were put in-- and we have had a lot of
rain! good luck!
We live on a steep hill, and when it rains heavily (as it has been
lately!), water is seeping into our family room, most likely from
underground runoff. It's not a lot of water, it just makes one corner
damp, but the room immediately smells heavily of mildew and is most
unpleasant. Also I've read about black mold, which I understand can be
hazardous to the health of babies, and we have a 7-month old. And I'm
worried about any possible cumulative effects on the house. Does anyone
know what can be done for something like this? Whom to call?
Proper drainage should be installed outside the house to lead this water away
from your home.
But since you may not be able to get that done quickly, a dehumidifier will
provide some relief. Sears sells them online at www2.sears.com
Do you own your home? If so, you need to fix this problem!! Water damage
is one of the worst types of damage- this will seriously effect the resale
valus of your home. The smell suggests to me that this has been happening
for a while, and is a problem that will get worse with neglect. The first
thing you can do is call your home owners insurance, and have them come out
and take a look. They may cover the water damage that you have in your
walls. If they don't cover it, they may still be very helpful in
suggesting solutions (ours were when we had a flood in our basement). If
you actually can see water on your floor, you can be sure that the walls,
insulation, etc behind the visable water are also wet, and probably
damaged, molding (from the smell), and need to be replaced. Right now, you
can at least remove the baseboard, wipe everything up with bleach, and put
a fan in front of it until it drys real well (you may want the insurance
people to see it first- or at least take pictures. Call them and ask).
The cause of the problem sounds like inadequet drainage. I would
have a drainage contactor out ASAP, while it is still wet, so they can
asses the situation. We just used Art Ward Construction, and I really
Who ya' gonna call? Ghostbusters!
Actually, there are a few things to look at before calling anyone. First,
make sure that water isn't running down and collecting against the outside
wall, then seeping through, especially on the uphill side. Make sure your
drains are draining as they are supposed to and that water isn't being
dumped where it will flow in. You can channel it away from the dump point
with green plastic "hose" that comes in rolls and lays flat--water will
still migrate through it if the outlet is lower than the point it connects
to the downspout, assuming it doesn't have to climb any hills. Make sure
the ground outside the seepage point (and elsewhere around the foundation)
is cleared away so that it doesn't make contact with the house any higher
than the top of the foundation -- there really should be about 6" of
vertical clearance below the mudsill (on top of the foundation) for termite
and dry rot prevention.
If the problem is not fixed by these simple solutions, you are probably
looking at some form of french drain: a gravel filled trench next to the
foundation to capture groundwater and runoff and carry it away. Simple ones
can be done by a homeowner willing to dig; complex ones can be big
engineering jobs. If you want advice call a reputable civil engineer or
architect: Christofferson and Graff looked at our drainage; Josh Kardon is
a good civil engineer we've used as well. There are many others. You might
also ask neigbors if they have had similar problems, and what they did/who
A story: my neighbor across the street told me he used to get 3' (yes,
feet) of water in his basement every time it rained hard. He put in a
french drain and hasn't seen a drop in ten years.
Water seepage is a problem you should not leave unaddressed. I can't speak
about mold. But I do know that water contacting wood can lead to dry rot,
which undermines the structural integrity of the house and can be very
expensive and invasive to fix. Your answer probably is drainage -- perhaps
a french drain to divert water around the house. There are a lot of
contractors out there who do drainage. We had a seepage problem -- brown
sludgy water that filled our laundry room -- and used a guy named Tom Morris
((925) 254-9289) to build a french drain. He was a lot cheaper than others
who bid on the work, and his references were very strong. We have been
through three heavy-rain winters, and the place is dry as a bone.
We also live on a hill and have a seepage problem in our basement (an
inlaw unit) when it rains heavily. I called Paul Carty of Carty
Construction 510.528.1565. His specialty is drainage systems and
foundation work. I have not yet received his estimate nor had the work
done, so I can not attest to prices or workmanship, but it was a
relief to have him come by and explain what could be done to relieve
the pressure of the ground water seeping through our foundation. Good
I have a concrete sidewalk next to my house where 2-4 inches of standing water accumulates
whenever it rains. Eric Burtt (recommended by this list) charges $250 just to come out to look
at the problem and tell me how to solve it--it seems like he wants to do a complete inventory of
my drainage system which I really don't need. Although I may wind up using him, I would
like other alternatives as well.
Any other current or recent expericnces with drainage and/or rebuilding a concrete walkway?
The list on the web is a bit outdated. Thanks.
I think that you should consider calling up a few small job type concrete contractors and
taking bids on having a thin new sidewalk poured over the top of the existing one. The new
one would be formed at the proper elevations and pitch to shed water away from the house.
There are methods and mix recipes that will accomplish this but whoever does it has to know
what they are doing because your average concrete mix has to be 4 or more inches thick. I
suggest this because for one, you will not have to break up and remove the existing
sidewalk,and two, the contractor would have a minimum of form work and only need a small
amount of material. Again, I caution you that this is a job for someone who knows what they
are doing, not because the work requires any special skills beyond that of ordinary concrete
work, but because it is essential to obtain a mix that is designed specifically for this purpose
and because good bond must be achieved between the old and the new ! ! material. You can
also ask for the cost of removal and installation of an entirely new sidewalk for comparison. I
may be missing the point here since I have not even seen the situation and my suggestion
could be wrong, but I think that you just might save a good deal of money if you can find a
contractor that will take this route. Unless water is getting into your house or lack of drainage
is causing foundation settlement, I would avoid calling in a drainage guy. The problem is the
pitch and elevation of the sidewalk.
We need to have some exterior drainage work done at our
Oakland home (french drains, drain lines, etc.) and are
looking for recommendations of reliable, timely drainage
see my previous post for Mircea Ilie. he did our basement remodel plus half
bath, and put french drains in as part of the job. we were very pleased with
the work and our basement is now dry as a bone.
I have a concrete walkway along the side of the house that gets about 3 inches of
water on it every time it rains and takes a few sunny days to dry up. Does
anyone have advice or recommendation about getting this taken
care of? I'm thinking I need someone who will put a drain in the walkway. We're
We are currently having a large drainage problem resolved by Ward Construction in
Richmond. The have been in business for many years, were fairly reasonably priced (in
this ludicrous market!), and have been easy to
work with. Their number is (510) 215-3636.
We had a drainage problem that let to flooding of the laundry room and
downstairs landing. We found there are some very good high-end outfits, which
will analyze the problem and give a full written report in a
very professional glossy folder. But you pay a lot for the professionalism. We had
one such outfit come to our house for drainage assessment and a bid for the
work. They came very highly recommended and we liked them. But the work
they recommended (french drains around the house and also additional
drainage underneath) was very extensive, and expensive. We called another
highly recommended, and less glossy, guy, Tom Morris. He agreed on what the
problem was, but thought outside French drains would probably suffice and that
it would be easy to do that first and add the under-house drainage if there still
was a problem. His work was very reasonable, his people extremely responsible
and neat, and despite several years of sometimes record rain, the laundry room
and landing (and the area under the house) have been bone dry. We were, as
you probably can gather, happy with Tom's work and have recommended him to
others. His number is (or at least was several years ago) (925) 254-9289.
We just finished extensive drainage work on our house and I was just saying to
my husband yesterday that if our basement doesn't flood this winter, I would
definitely recommend the company that we selected. After getting three bids, we
chose Ward Construction and so far we have no regrets. Their bid was fair, they
were extremely professional, they were efficient and polite and they even paid
attention to the volume (noise level) of their work during nap times. We have yet
to test the drain - February is usually the flood month - but I am pretty
confident that their work will hold up. The only problem we had was that one of
the workers hit our PG&E gas line with the shovel, but even that was handled
well. You can reach Ward Construction at 510-215-3636
We are going to get some construction work done on our house, including
drainage. Does anybody know anything about, or better still have
experience of, Eric Burtt of Burtt Construction. Thanks very much in
I highly recommend Eric Burtt. Eric's company replaced our foundation and
installed drainage when we moved into our house 9 years ago. Eric was great
at laying out our options, and explaing them at a level we could understand!
His crew worked diligently, and the job came in on budget, and in the
timeframe he had outlined. We recently used Eric for a foundation and
drainage inspection on our new home. Once again, he was excellent at
explaining our options.
Erosion from hillside stream
We live in the Oakland Hills - and there is a river that runs next to our
house (there is primarily only
water in the river during and right after a rain storm). Recently it seems
the river is erroding closer to our
house, and I am concerned about the dangers, and what damage it could cause
to our foundation. I am
told a geotechnical or geologist is what I am looking for, and thus far,
have not been able to find anyone.
I am looking for someone that can look at the river and let me know if there
is any potential danger to
our house/foundation. And if there is a potential danger, what we can do
Merrylee, I would recommend giving either Waterways Restoration
Institute or Urban Creeks Council a call. Both organizations have
technical people on staff (hydrogeomorphologists would be best) that
can give advice on a consultant basis or provide contacts that are
better suited to your needs. The number for WRI is 510-848-2211 and
UCC is 510-540-6669. You might also try following up with Roger
Leventhal of Far West Engineering who does work for UCC-- don't have a
direct # for him. Good luck.
this page was last updated: Jan 27, 2013
The opinions and statements expressed on this website
are those of parents who subscribe to the
Berkeley Parents Network.
Disclaimer & Usage for
information about using content on this website.
Copyright © 1996-2014 Berkeley Parents Network