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Hiring A French Drain Contractor


by Allison E. Beatty
Repair-Home Columnist

A French drain is an important home improvement project that should be handled by an experienced contractor. The following pointers can help you find the right contractor to improve your yard drainage with a properly directed trench and gravel drain.

Many landscaping companies install French drains, because they have expertise in drainage and yard grading. Basement waterproofing companies and plumbing companies also offer this service. Start by calling local landscaping and general home improvement contractors and asking if they offer this service.

When you call landscaping companies, remember that installing a French drain requires different skills than cutting grass and maintaining shrubs. Companies that have a licensed landscape architect on staff often install French drains, because these professionals have a more advanced level of training. Landscaping contractors who focus primarily on yard maintenance generally don't install French drains.

Interviewing Contractors

Once you have a list of names, have the contractors look around the site and offer suggestions. Ask open-ended questions about your overall water issues instead of just asking to have a French drain installed. Look for a contractor who will look at the whole problem and offer various options.

Be leery of any contractor who tries to give you a price over the telephone, without looking at your property. Because each yard is different, you want a contractor who will tailor the solution to your situation. Stay away from contractors who ask for large payments in advance or refuse to get necessary building permits. These can be warning signs of unscrupulous contractors.

Checking Contractor References

As you narrow your list of contractors, ask for references of customers who have had similar work done. Ideally, you want someone who had a French drain installed several years ago, so you can ask how the work has held up over time. Go visit the properties to see how the drainage was changed.

Checking references can be a time consuming process, but one that should pay off in the end. Ask plenty of questions and select the contractor who spends time answering questions and explaining the process. To succeed, this home improvement project requires a thorough search process.

About The Author
Allison E. Beatty is an avid old house enthusiast who has been renovating houses and writing about them for more than 10 years. She contributes regularly to national newspaper, magazines and web sites.