Select Reputable Contractor
The basement waterproofing contract I signed with AquaGuard Waterproofing Corporation was mainly a collection of costs with no clear description of the work to be done and a lengthy list of legalese meant to protect them when the inevitable screw ups occurred. In the end all the legal disclaimers couldn’t save them from having to give back the money they took us for. It was a tough battle as they sure tried to keep it all! Buyer Beware!!
Once I got rid of these clowns, I still had to deal with cleaning up AquaGuard Waterproofing Corporation‘s basement waterproofing gross negligence and numerous contract breaches. Once the real source of the water seepage was known, something AquaGuard failed to recognize or at least acknowledge, the solution was obvious. Before work could begin, however, I needed to contract the job to a reputable company. I chose Chamberlin-Washington, Inc to do the work. The contracting process in this case was much better than what I experienced with AquaGuard. Gone was the slick sales pitch and faulty proposal. Gone too was the pre-printed contract form and numerous “Terms and Conditions” mainly in small print on the back of this legal-sized document. If you want to read all 25 of those conditions, get a magnifying glass and click on: Contract Agreement I Page 2
On the other hand, don’t bother as it’s mainly what they aren’t responsible for, what you can’t hold them responsible for, what they’ve not agreed to do, … you get the picture. I would note that the very first term discusses how they will do the job in a workmanlike fashion, use appropriate materials, etc, all of which they failed to do! By the way, there certainly isn’t anything wrong in trying to protect yourself against unreasonable expectations. In the process, however, one shouldn’t lose sight of, i.e., fail to describe, the goods and services that were presented to the customer in the sales pitch.
The company I chose to get the job done correctly provided me with details of the work to be performed AND INCLUDED THEM IN THE CONTRACT! They provided a single “Contract Proposal” document. Contrast that to AquaGuard. They used a separate “Proposal” that was effectively useless in its details because they don’t feel bound to provide you anything in it. As their General Manager said under oath: ”The contract is the only thing I look at. That’s the binding thing.”
As if that isn’t bad enough, the General Manager also stated, under oath, that the form used was misleading. You might ask yourself why a company would knowingly use a misleading form? Lots of answers come to mind, none of those give you a warm feeling about the people you are dealing with. At the end of the day, none of it hardly manners because, as the General manager went on to say regarding the honesty of his sales force, “… and every week, they go out and lie.”
On the other hand, if you want to see a contract with real details about the work to be performed, as opposed to a lot of stuff that is basically there to protect a contractor who fears their customers, then click on the image below.
There are several important differences. First, in the case of this reputable contractor there is no separation of the “Proposal” from the “Contract”. We’ve already seen the mischief that can cause and how AquaGuard attempted to use this separation of paperwork as a dodge for responsibility. Second, notice that the price for the work is just under $23,000. This is around 30% more than AquaGuard’s contract but it is well under the estimate AquaGuard’s so-called senior inspector gave me for comparable work; $35,000 to $50,000 were the numbers he threw around (see picture in posting: Clay Bowl – Myth or Fact?).
So, for more than $18,000 AquaGuard’s subcontractor was at my house working for around 5 days, ripping me off on almost every aspect of the job, and leaving me with a useless mess that didn’t work. For $5,000 more, Chamberlin-Washington, Inc was there over a month addressing the real sources of the water seepage, doing a fantastic job, working closely with me whenever an issue arose, and providing me with all I ever wanted; a dry basement and confidence it would stay that way for a long, long time. I think the extra money was worth it.
The reputable outfit earned their money installing an effective system. They took time and expended effort, vice what AquaGuard did. The reputable guys may not have made the huge profits that others get, so I guess they are suckers in the eyes of some. I’m a sucker too, I suppose, because I paid more to get the job done right. On the other hand my house is in much better shape than it was. When the time comes for me to sell it, I will know I’ve done right by the next owner, not just put a band-aid on the problem and got the hell out of there. This was not about the money. It was, and should always be, about honesty and fair dealing.