As we enter into the rainy, wet weeks of building, it reminds me how important water control is for the basement or foundation of a building project. No one likes to have water seep into a basement, especially if there is finished living area in the basement.

Basements are constructed on most residential projects. We need the basement foundation to support the house structure and usually locate mechanical systems there as well. However, the big, open spaces that look great in December and January can become problematic in April if water seeps into the basement.

Northfield Construction Company employs many construction details to try and make sure our customers basements stay dry. Some of these methods include making sure the foundation is coated with appropriate dampproofing materials, covering the dampproofing with polytheylene sheeting, covering the polyethylene sheeting with a rigid foam insulation, setting a positive sloped drain tile at the exterior building footings in a bed of washed gravel, setting a positive sloped initerior perimeter draintile in a bed of washed gravel, ensuring that the draintiles are cross connected, installing a bed of gravel or sand under all concrete floors, installing a polyethylene vapor retarder sheet under all interior concrete floors, etc. Each of these processes has to be installed correctly and watched for the duration of the construction time to see that no damage occurs. For example, it is easy for a plumber to disturb a draintile line and forget to reinstall it correctly.

You should also know that the Uniform Building Code and Minnesota Building Codes do not significantly address water control issues. Some type of dampproofing is generally required, and many communities call for a draintile line. But like so many parts of the Building Code, these requirements are a minimum level. If a dry basement is important to you, I urge you to carefully discuss what methods your builder employs to get that result.

Over our 32 years of construction, Northfield Construction Company has found a system that seems to work for most sites. However, it is very important to evaluate each building site and analyze soils, ground water elevations and surface water directions before starting construction. A well thought-out plan for water control at the start of a project can eliminate years and years of headaches later on. If a basement water control system is not put in place properly from the start it is very difficult and expensive to try and correct the situation.