French Drains/Footing Problems

Discussion in 'Plumbing Forum, Professional & DIY Advice' started by lisacan, Apr 22, 2007.

  1. lisacan

    lisacan New Member

    Messages:
    6
    We were installing a french drain system in a basement and discovered that their footing is inadequate and requires reinforcement before we contin ue work.
    Client insists that it is our responsibility to reinforce footing since we opened up the trench for the french drain and it is no longer virgin soil.
    We feel that since they knew (they admitted this) about this problem but did not tell us about it before we started excavating, it is their problem and our contract states that any problems found that comprimise the structural integrity of the workspace (which this obviously did) will incur additional fees.
    We feel like we are being taken for a ride since they knew about the problem and didnt tell us about it ahead of time.
    What would you do? (we're waiting to see what lawyer says but client is going nuts and threatening just about everything at this point)
    Thank you!
  2. i don't know how many Q's one is required to pose to a customer prior to commencing work, in your field, in your location, so I cannot comment. I think no-one can comment for long about what will suffice in a court of law, as no matter what the precedents and the rules (of that jurisdiction you fall under) may be (and they may be clear or unclear), judges still have the right to pick and choose among elements and to draw their own conclusion.

    In general, the more you can document the fact that "they" knew in advance something they didn't reveal, the more various lawyers involved will concede you have one good point on your side. Documenting is a way to reinforce a story. Video is good, letters written from one person to another are also not bad, if then he doesn't refute stongly enough what he may have already admitted. That's all I can say; more said is less helpful.

    If you are not licensed and your friends are no longer "with you" as friends, you may scrape by this once but I would predict that from now on you'll need to write exams, pay fees, and treat every situation as a high-risk one from now on. A recent thread from an apprentice who was tempted to take work on the side dealt with this problem. It's because anything can spiral out of control at any time.

    david
  3. lisacan

    lisacan New Member

    Messages:
    6
    Our plumber is licensed and the problem with the footing is not consistent around the entire perimeter. In other words, some sections seem to have this problem, some do not...the excavation of the french drain did not initially reveal this either...it just so happned that the huge rain that swamped this part of the country happened a day or two later and while it all drained (to our client's benefit, otherwise they would have been under several feet of water), some soil washed away and we were able to see the problem with the footing. We could have just closed it all up with none the wiser, but we were prudent and called a structural engineer who recommended reinforcing the footing in certain areas....suggested to client that they might want to do this and they went nuts and are saying that we caused this problem, which as we know (also by photographs, that we took every step of the way), that we didnt. We are fairly new to contracting though and this is the first time we have encountered this type of situation where clients acted this way. We felt we were doing a service by mentioning the deficit and by suggesting that we reinforce before closing. Now client is talking out of both sides of his mouth by slipping that he knew about problem from when he originally bought the house but by saying that the foundation was strong and could have lasted 100 years and that we should have checked footing before digging. What do you think? (Thanks for hearing me out!)
  4. leejosepho

    leejosepho DIY scratch-pad engineer

    I took my small truck to a shop a few months ago and told (hired) them to do the diagnostics and "fix it" if they could do so for no more than a certain amount.

    > Your customer hired you to do some work for no more than a certain amount.

    After the mechanic had done a little diagnosing and removed a fouled spark plug from the engine in my truck, he immediately stopped all work and let my truck sit just as it was at that time until I could decide whether or not to spend quite a bit more to get my truck's valve problem fixed ... and in the end, and probably mostly for the sake of good PR, I was quite surprised to only be charged for a new spark plug and 15 minutes labor.

    You possibly have far more time and material invested, but in your situation I would quietly let the customer know you cannot proceed until he has agreed to pay the additional cost required ... and if he does not, then just walk away and send him a bill for your work so far and later file a mechanic's lien on his property if he does not pay.

    "Business is business", they say, and my truck would still be sitting dead in that garage if that mechanic's customer had in any way been unreasonable.
  5. toolaholic

    toolaholic General Contractor Carpenter

    Messages:
    874
    Location:
    Marin Co. Ca.
    Lets See How This Works

    I'M A GEN CONTR. When we open up walls ,while remodeling,We often find rot.
    Repairs are done t+m We get paid for that xtra before we continue with our original contract work. Where did You find these people?????

    Go to court ,If You must ,You will win , no brainer
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