Tuesday, February 07, 2012

Basement Plumbing Re-cap

The basement plumbing project has been finished for a few weeks now but I wanted to get a little space between myself and the project before writing about it.  This was the best way to "let the dust settle", literally, and look at the project in a broader perspective. 

The final project took about a week and a half to complete.  I had one call back to the plumber because we had a very small leak in the main stack.  They, of course, came over immediately to fix it.   Everything is working just fine and the cleanup from the project is about half-done.  I can't help but still be anxious about the whole endeavor.  I would really like for us to get a good heavy rain to see if the whole thing works and to see if additional work is needed to remedy any groundwater issues.  I guess time will tell. 

I am very happy with the plumbers we used.  We worked with Rob West Plumbing out of Chicago and I would recommend them to anyone that is going to take on such a project.  They were responsive and smart about the project and the final cost was at their estimate.  The cost of such a project can vary greatly, depending on your home and what it requires.  We have heard prices as low as $3,000 and as high as $10,000.  In addition to the pit, pump and re-plumbing of the basement fixtures and drains, we had them install a high water alarm in the pit, repair a broken catch basin and fill holes from the catch basin to any piping in the basement and downspouts.  The cost included getting a permit from the Village, the final concrete work and designated outlet and related electrical work.  With all of this, we were near the upper end of the price scale.

If you are going to take on such a project, there are still several things I would suggest:

1.   Prior to demolition, provide your own protection in the work area.  Cover everything you want protected with plastic and seal off the area as much as possible.  If you have a forced air HVAC system, turn off the system during work and block the intake.

2.   Invest in renting a hepa filter or other similar ventialtion system used in construction to vent the area during demolition.  This is another item we had access to but since we never anticipated the amount of dust that could be caused byt it, we did not set it up.  It would have saved us a lot of headaches.

3.   If you have an uneven basement floor and if they are removing significant amounts of your basement slab, consider having entire portions or the entire slab re-poured.  I wish we had taken on this project 4 years ago.  If we had, and if I hadn't already had a finished basement with a ton of stuff in it, I would have had the entire basement slab removed and re-done.  At the very least, if I knew what the demo would entail, I would have cleaned out the entire back of the basement and done that half this year.  I wasn't prepared for this at all.  They only did "trenches" for our plumbing and I regret not having the foresight to do more.

4.  If you are picky about the concrete work, you may want to have a concrete specialist complete the concrete filling portion.  I am happy with the job I got and am not too picky about how the concrete looks down here but I imagine that people with nicer basements might be more discerning and want a higher quality concrete and finish look.

5.   Make sure you know what your bid includes.  Our bid was pretty much all-inclusive: from permitting to finish concrete and the guys at Rob West handled everything well.  I have heard of other plumbers that do some of the work but rely on "others" for things like the electrical hook up, concrete, permit, etc.  This could be a real pain and an unwanted surprise, to find out you need to do something extra in the middle of the job.        
Ultimately, I don't wish the sewer backup issues on anyone and hope that others don't have to make this kind of investment in your home.  If so, I wish you luck and hope this string of posts was helpful. 


Dave said...

Hey Chris,

We are also in North Oak Park and are looking to use Rob West. Has everything been good since the initial install? Would you still recommend them?


Chris said...

I would still recommend them and I think they did a decent job with no "surprises". The biggest caution I would still give is to seal off their working area - remove everything from your basement before starting. The saw cutting of the concrete did a number on our place from a dust perspective and I think they did a decent job of trying to cover everything up. Good luck with your proect.

Anonymous said...

Thanks Chris,

Love the blog btw. It is a wealth of information as we are doing many of the things you have done!