Hi everyone, My house is the second one from the end. that's my red Ranger parked right in the way of where I'm digging.
I'm over my head here technically, and neck deep in water, otherwise...I could use some help.
I have a 170 year old row house in Downtown Baltimore Maryland. I've owned it for a year now, and I knew it had big water problems in the basement before I bought it, but not this big. I love this house that is full of storybook charm, but the water is a problem. I had a Regional Waterproofer come in and they sold me a sump and drain tile system, which did little to help anything, but it lightened my pocket of $9300.
Now, I want to excavate the front and rear foundation wall of the house and parge and tar the foundation wall. I had to jump through ten hoops at the One Stop Permit Shop here in Baltimore to get ready for the work. I'm ready now. Among the hoopettes I hopped through were the permit to block the sidewalk people. the regular building permit people, a City engineer to approve my plans, and the Historic neighborhood folks. It was many more than one stop. The permits will probably end up cost more than me doing the work.
Anyway, I started digging out the front foundation today and hit concrete at 8 inches of depth. Apparently this 2' X 6' slab is a foundation for a planter. It extends two feet out from the front of the house, and runs between the steps on one edge of the 11'8" wide house, to the neighbors house, or about six feet. Below this, I have gas, water, and electricity lines, and also obsolete water and gas lines that are still there-- five lines I have to watch out for.
I want to remove this concrete and continue digging down to the footer. Should I just water proof the best I can and not remove the concrete?
There is no actual footer in this house. I want to dig to about 8 inches below where the slab is and put gravel there and a perforated drain pipe running the 6 feet with end caps. I'll cover this with about 4 inches of gravel.
I plan on parging in two coats and then two or three coats of a tar substance I bought at Home Depot. I'll calk between the steps and the wall of the house, etc. I only have to dig about four feet down total.
Question: Can I backfill with pea gravel instead of dirt? I read that when sinking fence posts that are not of a rot resistant wood, to sink them in gravel. The idea is that the gravel will cause the water to fall away from the posts, and the posts will not remain wet all the time. I'm thinking the same idea here. The water will fall down to my sump system. could it hurt the neighbor's house? Is a backfill of gravel considered better than dirt?
Actually, I also want to put a plastic vapor barrier between the final coat of tar, and the backfill gravel. Then I'll put a barrier a few inches below grade, from the house, out about two feet towards the road to drain the surface water away. I'll glue it to the house with tar, like roof flashing.
Could anyone please comment on these plans and tell me if any of these ideas are not good ideas? Also, any alternative ideas are appreciated.