According to Wikipedia “A flood myth or deluge myth is a symbolic narrative in which a great flood is sent by a deity, or deities, to destroy civilization in an act of divine retribution.” Well, our civilization was not destroyed, and hopefully we have paid our dues to whatever deity was angry with us.
Ed and I first looked into buying a house in this neighborhood in 2006. We originally settled on a house across S. Columbia, but that one fell through. Then we found our house on N. Carter. We learned that it had only had two owners – the original owners (who had been here for decades) and the second owners who only stayed for a couple of years. The first owners, the Hughes, apparently had some AWESOME tomatoes, because a few people asked me if they were still growing in the back when we moved in (they weren’t). The second owners had very similar tastes to our own, in terms of paint and tiles – so that was really nice that we wouldn’t have to redecorate. Also, the master bedroom had a GIGANTIC closet, that was to die for. It was mainly this closet that I wanted to buy this house. Remember this bit, its important.
Once we got the inspection, it became apparent that there was a lot of work to be done. They had removed a load bearing wall, the ceiling needed to be reinforced. The electric system was a total mess (the inspector actually used the phrase “death trap”). we made those changes and happily moved in. We were fine for a little while, then I noticed a little wet spot on the carpet in the master bedroom’s walk in closet, yep that same closet. There was no wet spot on the ceiling, so I had no idea where the water was coming from. I pulled up the carpet to discover that the entire carpet padding in the whole closet was soaked (there was a plastic coating between the pad and the carpet that kept the water from coming through, except for one place where the plastic was broken). At this point I figured the water was coming from the bathroom that was adjacent to the closet. It made sense, the bathroom shower had a window where the water splashed down into and there was a huge crack in the grout. I figured it was dripping through to the room next door. We called a friend who was an interior designer. After he inspected, he found that 1) the master bathroom was not built to code – there was no crawlspace underneath where you could reach the plumbing. and 2) there was no shower pan. The shower tiles were placed directly on top of the wood beneath. so of course, the wood was almost completely rotted away. I guess they had done all of the renovations under the table. So we spent a bunch of money redoing the bathroom, putting in a new shower. A few months later, this must have been in 2008 or so, Atlanta had a deluge – I mean days and days of rain. I come home from work and see water GUSHING in from under the closet floor, our entire closet and bedroom is under several inches of water. This picture does it no justice. This picture was taken on a day when the flood was caught early. If the flood was not caught early (we were asleep, or at work) 1-2 inches of water would be covering the entire walk in closet, and out into our bedroom up to our bed.
I freak out. We pull up as much carpet as needed and suck up the water with hoses and pumps. The water was never coming in from the bathroom, it was coming in from the outside all along. We learned eventually that the master bedroom was also not build to code. It was built into a hill, with a retaining wall, but with no drainage system. Every time it rained more than 2 inches at a time, all that water came into our closet. WITH A CURRENT. it was like a stream, there were leaves flowing in it. I wish I had pictures of this, but I cant find them – I think I am trying to block it out. This went on for 1 year. Every time it rained more than 2 inches in a few days, our bedroom became a fish pond. We called countless contractors, most didnt want anything to do with us. Fish pond. We called waterproofers, they never called us back. Fish pond. We couldn’t go out of town, because we were terrified it would rain while we were gone. If it started raining while I was at work, I would rush home in the middle of the day to turn the pumps on. We lived in a constant state of panic. We finally got someone to come in and put french drains. They give us a REALLY good offer. After they finished their job, we realized that they only put the french drain in 6 inches underground, and the pipes had NO HOLES IN THEM. If you dont know how french drains work, see here, but suffice it to say, perferations are needed. He ripped us off.
Fish pond. So then we hired a concrete pourer. Our logic at this point was that we needed a concrete “moat” around our house to redirect the water away from the house. This cost a lot of money. Although I will say that I have never seen Ed so excited as he was when that huge concrete pouring truck with the 100 foot arm rolled up to our house. He’s so cute! Well, it helped. But not completely. We went from flooding every time there was 2 inches of rain, to flooding every time there was 2.5 inches of rain. Not good enough.
Still a fish pond. Another contractor, who came highly recommended, came to the house and looked everything over. When I asked him what should we do, he answered “Sell the house?” Now, despite all of the problems we have had, we really did love this house. More, we loved the neighborhood, and did NOT want to sell. What else could we do? “build drains like the roman aquiducts”. So thats what we did. They came in, tore down our fences, our trees, our bushes, our landscaping and dug a 150 foot trench 7 foot deep. Filled it with 24 tons of gravel and an honest-to-god- perforated french drain.
Well, now, I can confidently say that after several years, 10s of thousands of dollars, and lots of heartache later, we are still water free. The moral of this story is, find a good contractor the first time. And, you get what you pay for.