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  • Writer's pictureRachel Loussaert

Water In, But Why?

1 in 60 insured homes filed a water damage claim from 2016 to 2020 according to information compiled by sources throughout the insurance industry. That calculates to 1.16% of insured homes, which consists of both new and old homes. There is no limit or reason why one home is safe, while another is compromised. $11,650 is the average water damage claim from this same time frame and very little thoughts are introduced in regard to preventative measures while designing and deciding how or what to be used.


Single family new home starts in 2023 is projected to be in the 800,000 range, which is 40% less than in years past. The math behind water intrusion issues state that 1 in 60 of these homes will suffer from the vast list of negative effects associated with a damp basement. New home builds will account for roughly 13,334 (800,000/60) homes having issues at a total cost of (11,650 x 13,334) or $155,341,100 in 2023 costs. There is no time associated with when the problems would occur, so inflation numbers do not exist.



Builders, developers and homeowners need to do better. The time to eliminate the problem is early in the design phase but it’s rarely discussed. The problem here is everyone is always in “fix it mode” vs “prevention mode.” For years I have watched firsthand all parties involved in building overlook water intrusion not only at the below grade level, but above grade as well. At the below grade level no one takes responsibility for it. The excavator defaults to the concrete crews as they normally handle the footings and the flatwork. The concrete crew will install a sump pump pit (but no pump or discharge) in a location only decided by its ability to not be seen. This sump pump is supposed to be the collection point of corrugated tile lines that run up, over, and around clusters of dirt and debris. Many times, these tile lines are not even connected and virtually serve no purpose. Water management companies only allow water to run 70’ until it needs to exit or discharge into a sump pit. This means a sump pump can be placed in the middle of 140’ runs. Now, measure these foundation walls being built linear footage wise and you will quickly see that 1 sump pump in a mechanical room attached to drain tile on 372’ linear feet actually requires 3 pumps. None of this even matters if the tile lines are clogged or not filled in with gravel (see picture below).


An even worse fact lies on exterior drainage. The excavator defaults to the concrete guy who then in turn defaults to the person backfilling, a plumber, a homeowner, or anyone willing to lay the same corrugated tile on the outside. The tile line makes a continuous loop all the way around the building but exits nowhere. Most municipalities will not allow this to drain into the city sewer or curb and gutter system, and this assumes the footing of the house is even above the road (most likely not). What happens if the lot is level? Where do these poor tradesmen go with this water they may have collected? The water starts at the footing. It is a simple, scientific fact that water will sink and flow to the lowest point it can. It will puddle up and create what is known as hydrostatic pressure.



A great way to understand hydrostatic pressure is to think of a zip lock sandwich bag with the same water in it. Squeeze it and force the water to the liner. Now poke this liner with a pen or a needle and the water sprays and shoots out. The more water collecting, the more pressure. The more pressure the more water looks for a crack, a hole, or the cold joint between the footing and the wall.



The $155 million dollar question for homes being built in North America in 2023 is who owns

this water. The answer is a sad but true answer. This water is owned by the end user, more

specifically the homeowner. The homeowner’s insurance policy they bought and paid for will

not cover this. General contractors’ contracts get them out of this and all the manufacturers’

warranties run super far away from it. The terrible thing about water intrusion and moisture

prevention is that very rarely homeowners and clients are given an option or a chance to

understand it. Even more rare is the builder, excavator, concrete company, and plumber being able to create a plan and work together in preventing this from happening.


The technology and the procedures to warranty a foundation are now available. The options

are becoming more and more, and builders are shying away from it as they would rather talk about interior, high margin finishes. The same finishes that will be compromised with improper water management. Problems are so bad in new construction that the preventative measures taken by builders are now becoming suggestions-suggestions of not using hardwood flooring on concrete floors, suggestions of not building basements, suggestions of petroleum-based products that carry no warranty. Builders will offer a 1-year warranty and even this 1 year doesn’t help as that is from the time of installation, not occupancy. Lifetime warranties that transfer through ownership and that stay with the home are now available and offered. Oddly enough, these up-front costs in new construction for 1 sump pump and 140 linear feet is less than the average repair costs.


Nexgen ICF is changing this narrative with our home starts. Nexgen ICF is changing this

narrative with every foundation placed under a builder’s home. For details on water

prevention, not management, call Nexgen ICF for your next project!

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