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Old 2020-11-14, 12:05 PM
Trepex Trepex is offline
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Default Geotechnical engineer - Navan custom build

Hello, we’re building a custom home in Navan. Foundation is in, first floor is nearly all up, but we’re concerned with the amount of water remaining in the basement. Even in cases where we’ve pumped it and have had several days of dry weather, the water has over a couple days risen back above the footings. We pumped it mostly all out again yesterday within two hours, but this morning it’s come back up (though admittedly a lot slower than before).

Our general contractor kind of shrugs and just says that’s why we’ll have a sump pump, and recommends a backup. I told him I’d like the engineer to look at it and discuss with us. The contractor has been trying to work with the engineer, who says he will consult others at the firm, but the firm is really dragging their feet.

Does anyone have a recommendation for a geotechnical engineering firm in the area that we could bring it? I realize it will cost us, and it’s possibly simply an issue of current conditions and all the construction going on around us, grading, etc. but I think we’re still better of getting a professional to look at it now while the excavators will still be on site and where we can find a solution if we have to.

Thanks in advance!
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Old 2020-11-14, 08:59 PM
Halton Home Inspector Halton Home Inspector is offline
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Originally Posted by Trepex View Post

we’re building a custom home in Navan.

Our general contractor kind of shrugs and just says that’s why we’ll have a sump pump, and recommends a backup.

I think we’re still better of getting a professional to look at it now while the excavators will still be on site and where we can find a solution if we have to.

If the foundation and basement floor is already in place then the sump pit and pump should already be in place and working. Sump pits are put in place before the basement floor is poured, not after.

Sumps are not a building code requirement. The local municipality determines whether a home has a sump or not.

Once the lot grading is done things could improve considerably.

Sumps can not be busy at all, only busy when it rains, or very busy.
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Last edited by Halton Home Inspector; 2020-11-15 at 09:42 AM.
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Old 2020-11-15, 09:43 AM
Trepex Trepex is offline
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Thank you for the reply!

Foundation is in, but not basement pad. Our concern is mostly that freezing weather is only days away now. What will they do with 4 inches of water covering the basement (which subsequently freezes) and then the saturated ground beneath? Or maybe we really don't need to worry and they will just figure it out, eventually install the sump pump (we're being advised to do a primary pump + backup pump)

Also, we met our neighbour yesterday who told us that they had actually opted to raise their foundation with 2ft of stone. We were never given this option unfortunately and now it's too late. It probably would have cost us too much as well given the $25K price tag he paid for it and to adjust the rest of the grading.

The neighbour did mention that their engineer had suggested given they were 80ft back from the front ditch/drain, they could tie the drainage system directly into the drain. I will explore this option next week but it will depend obviously on how low we're sitting.

I think at this point I'll just insist on the site visit / meeting with the engineer. I'm irritated when the GC acts as a buffer. I paid, he stamped the drawings, I'll talk to him directly. Fair?
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Old 2020-11-15, 10:46 AM
bpsmicro bpsmicro is offline
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One advantage you have is that you now know roughly how much water to expect when your sump pump eventually fails or you have an extended power failure. It would have been nice to have known this in advance so you could build higher, but indeed that would have cost a bundle. To do it now would likely mean tearing out the entire foundation and starting again. And even then the water table could rise/lower over time.

Rural people just resign themselves to the fact that sump pumps will be part of their lives. :-(

If you can afford it, I'd recommend you plan now for an automatic generator. At the very least do the electrical with an aim to add a generator (natural gas or propane depending on what's available).

Get a *good* pump (expect to pay about $500 for a good one), maybe a backup and maybe even a battery-powered backup. The problem with battery ones is that you need to keep a close eye on the actual batteries & charging setup. They tend to die before the pumps do. Also get an audible sump-level alarm, and/or one tied into your alarm system (if you get one) or at least a cloud-based alert. If your sump is at risk of overflowing, you want as much advance warning as humanly possible.

Hopefully your GC is using a plumber well-versed in rural. A good rural plumber will put in the effort to set it up right because they've probably seen first-hand the results of crappy workmanship in that area.

They won't pour the concrete floor until the water's drained (which may mean the sump already wired in and running). I'm not sure if it's required, but hopefully they'll have a layer of foam insulation underneath the concrete, so once it's all poured freezing won't be a major concern. Personally I'd have preferred you were past that point by now though. For our rebuild last year, the rest of the structure was pretty much done before they did the actual floor (ran the hose through a basement window), but that was still by early-Fall.
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Old 2020-11-15, 01:08 PM
Halton Home Inspector Halton Home Inspector is offline
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Make sure the builder installs the sump correctly.

Before the concrete floor is poured at least 4 inches of clean gravel needs to be spread out AND they need to dig a hole for the sump pit. Gravel needs to be placed around the sump pail. This way any water that accumulates under the concrete floor can easily be directed to the sump.
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Old 2020-11-15, 05:32 PM
Trepex Trepex is offline
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Originally Posted by bpsmicro View Post
One advantage you have is that you now know roughly how much water to expect when your sump pump eventually fails or you have an extended power failure. It would have been nice to have known this in advance so you could build higher, but indeed that would have cost a bundle. To do it now would likely mean tearing out the entire foundation and starting again. And even then the water table could rise/lower over time.

Rural people just resign themselves to the fact that sump pumps will be part of their lives. :-(

If you can afford it, I'd recommend you plan now for an automatic generator. At the very least do the electrical with an aim to add a generator (natural gas or propane depending on what's available).

Get a *good* pump (expect to pay about $500 for a good one), maybe a backup and maybe even a battery-powered backup. The problem with battery ones is that you need to keep a close eye on the actual batteries & charging setup. They tend to die before the pumps do. Also get an audible sump-level alarm, and/or one tied into your alarm system (if you get one) or at least a cloud-based alert. If your sump is at risk of overflowing, you want as much advance warning as humanly possible.

Hopefully your GC is using a plumber well-versed in rural. A good rural plumber will put in the effort to set it up right because they've probably seen first-hand the results of crappy workmanship in that area.

They won't pour the concrete floor until the water's drained (which may mean the sump already wired in and running). I'm not sure if it's required, but hopefully they'll have a layer of foam insulation underneath the concrete, so once it's all poured freezing won't be a major concern. Personally I'd have preferred you were past that point by now though. For our rebuild last year, the rest of the structure was pretty much done before they did the actual floor (ran the hose through a basement window), but that was still by early-Fall.
This is great feedback, thank you. I have confidence in the GC honestly but sometimes not in their willingness to just sit back and wait for answers. I spent my entire weekend running the pump and keeping things as dried out as I could. I wish we had been a few weeks or months further ahead, but COVID really killed us on the permit process. It took forever to get our sewer permit from the local conservation association, and then the City took their time too. Understandable, but a difficult delay.

My biggest question at this point is what they'll do if there remains 5 inches of water that then freezes in the basement. Chunk it up then remove it prior to pouring the floor?

Oh well. I wrote a really detailed email to the GC this afternoon with photos and insisting on a site visit to work through the plan.

I really appreciate you taking the time to reply!
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Old 2020-11-15, 05:34 PM
Trepex Trepex is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Halton Home Inspector View Post
Make sure the builder installs the sump correctly.

Before the concrete floor is poured at least 4 inches of clean gravel needs to be spread out AND they need to dig a hole for the sump pit. Gravel needs to be placed around the sump pail. This way any water that accumulates under the concrete floor can easily be directed to the sump.
Excellent, thank you! It's certainly a different adventure building your own home versus the two previous tract builds I've done. In some ways nice to have more control, but at the same time daunting to know you need to stay on top of everything and that there's no new home warranty to hold over anyone's head at the end of it!
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Old 2020-11-15, 05:42 PM
Trepex Trepex is offline
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Just replying with a couple of photos to show before/after. Saturday and Sunday were similar when we showed up each morning. It accumulates pretty quick. Mainly pushing at this point for answers as to the current state of the weeping system, and when we can complete the drainage.

I don't see any pipes at the basement window wells for the weeping, despite them having backfilled with sand/soil. I asked about that too...

https://imgur.com/a/Bm52k2S
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Old 2020-11-16, 09:24 AM
bpsmicro bpsmicro is offline
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Geez, if my GC had seen the sub-trades leaving such a gawdawful sloppy mess, he'd be kicking their asses up and down the stairs. Doesn't reflect well on him as a GC in my opinion (which, admittedly, tends to be a tad harsh).
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Old 2020-11-16, 10:19 AM
Trepex Trepex is offline
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Originally Posted by bpsmicro View Post
Geez, if my GC had seen the sub-trades leaving such a gawdawful sloppy mess, he'd be kicking their asses up and down the stairs. Doesn't reflect well on him as a GC in my opinion (which, admittedly, tends to be a tad harsh).
Hahaha!! Fair enough, though it probably looks a bit worse than it was. The joist cut-offs lying around were actually spread out by my son who was playing "the floor is lava" while he patiently chilled with me for two hours of water pumping :P The trades were good about collecting all the scraps with exposed nails, piling up the rebar scraps, etc.
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