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The Basement Waterproofing work done by AquaGuard Waterproofing Corporation is marked by failures across the board. Practically everything they promised to do was done poorly, if it was done at all. In this posting we’ll look at their failure to do the contracted crack repair work, and then learn how they tried to wiggle out of responsibility for this obvious failure. Buyer Beware! Talk is cheap and AquaGuard is a prime example of such behavior.
Good faith dealing for all items is a basic assumption in the contracting process and a minimum expectation. In this posting I’ll examine one of many specific examples of AquaGuard Waterproofing Corporation contract breach in the basement waterproofing done in my home. The extensive list of these breaches deserves item-by-item examination as each highlights an aspect of what can go wrong. Attention to details by the contractor, but also by the knowledgable homeowner, will result in a better final product. This assumes the company is interested in quality work and has pride in what they produce; otherwise Buyer Beware!
This specific example relates to crack repairs that I contracted to have done and what actually was “delivered”. Our old house, built in the early 1920s, has a poured concrete foundation with a few feet of blocks finishing it at the top of the walls. You can see the transition from block to poured concrete in the left side picture at the top of this posting. You’ll also note the crack which runs from the top to the bottom of that wall. The other two pictures show a couple of other portions of the same crack, in the middle and at the floor respectively. This was the biggest of the cracks and there were several others. Past experience showed that water tended to come in through the walls, flow to the floor, and spread out from there. This fact was provided to the AquaGuard Senior Inspector, but he dismissed that as a source of “surface” water flow, sticking to his assertion that the “real” source of the problem was water pooling up from the bottom, around the foundation, and then through the cracks. This was the central piece of his sales pitch, i.e., the so-called clay-bowl effect. In the case of our house this was false, as later events showed, and also very self-serving but that’s the topic of a future posting.
Getting back to the crack, I insisted on getting these patched and contracted to have that done. How to repair a crack? AquaGuard has a description of such work on their website, which is consistent with what the senior inspector described, and was consistent with how the work was written up. Unfortunately that was not done by them at all, which is consistent with practically every other thing they did or I should say failed to do. Let’s look at the details using the sworn testimony of AquaGuard’s “Senior Inspector”. In the following, “Q” represents questions by my side, “A” are the responses of the Senior Inspector. His entire deposition can be read at “AquaGuard Sales Rep Depo Transcript 090612“.
Q. Did you indicate to him that that repair procedure would include cutting out the existing crack in the shape of a V that would then be —
A. It’s typically in the industry called a V groove.
Q. Okay. And how is that V groove created? What tool is used or what methodology is used to create the V?
A. I’m not sure. I’m sure that there are several different tools to utilize that.
Q. The V is —
A. I mean, it’s generally power, power tool.
Q. And that V groove is then plugged with some material?
Q. Are you familiar or are you aware of the type of material that is used to plug that V groove?
A. Typically, a product called Aquafin. Typically, Thoroseal. Sometimes hydraulic cement or waterproofing cement would be used.
In other words, the industry standard practice would be to cut a slot where the crack is in the shape of a V groove and seal it with some material that would inhibit the flow of water through the crack. This is essentially the same description provided on AquaGuard’s website and provided by all the inspectors and other contractors who offered an opinion on how to do such repairs. One would think this is well understood practice. Unfortunately it was either unknown or purposely ignored by AquaGuard’s foreman, i.e., the subcontractor they gave the job to.
If one hopes from clarity from the testimony AquaGuard’s General Manager, then I point you to the comments in his deposition (AquaGuard General Manager Depo Transcript 091212 ) pages 44 through 46 or the hearing transcripts (Arbitration Hearing – 110512) pages 208 through 211. The familiar refrain of “We contracted for …” is given with no regard for the written documents within the contract (which specifies lateral stitching in the block, not the poured concrete), the testimony of AquaGuard’s own expert witnesses and our expert witnesses, the description given by their senior representative at the time of the contract signing, etc. None of this phases the General Manager. In other words, if it isn’t specified exactly in the contract, at least those parts of the contract that they care to focus on, then you are out of luck.
The real point is that no one, with the exception of their General Manager, thought the cracks were repaired correctly. If AquaGuard Waterproofing Corporation had an unbiased inspection and quality control process this, and so many other issues that will be outlined in future postings, would have been caught immediately. Addressing those problems would have taken time, additional effort, and would have been far more cost-effective.