MINIMIZE THE RISK OF BASEMENT FLOODING - Bosley Real Estate Ltd. Brokerage - Homes and houses for sale in Toronto including Cabbagetown, The Annex, Danforth Village, Lawrence Park and Riverdale


22 June 2015
Bosley Real Estate

Spring thaws, summer storms, fall floods — Toronto’s weather, whatever the conditions, is increasingly intense. Strong, sudden rains bring flash flooding, which cause havoc with traffic on the roads, increase the likelihood of power outages, and unfortunately,  this is often the time when homeowners find out their basements aren’t as waterproof as originally thought.

The City of Toronto has designated just over 30 areas across town as being susceptible to basement flooding, including some of Toronto’s most desirable neighbourhoods, from Long Branch in the west, Hogg’s Hollow in the north and Brickworks and Lower Don towards the city’s east end.

While the City is working to improve its sewer system, which includes underground pipes and catch basins, its capacity is finite. Neighbourhoods expanding in density mean there’s less green space to absorb rainwater; areas in which one finds tree-lined streets, like Leslieville, High Park and North Toronto, suffer from tree roots, small and large, finding homes in clay pipes and drains; and older homes with foundation cracks, poorly placed downspouts or yards sloping towards the house instead of away all lead to increased chances of basement leakage.

Bill Johnston, manager and legal counsel and Bosley, notes “experts say that 90% of basement flooding is caused by improper sloping of soil around the house or improper location of downspouts. These are easily curable problems.”

Although the City of Toronto warns, “Every home is at risk of basement flooding, even if there has never been a flooding incident,” there are things one should consider when buying a home. “Buyers should also ask the seller if there have been any issues during their ownership of the home, including water intrusion,” Johnston says. “One of the big concerns regarding flooding is the potential for mould accumulation. Mould can cause respiratory problems in some people, and it can lead to unpleasant odours in the home.”

He adds: “Buyers should always consider having a home-inspection condition in their offer, or even have an inspection done prior to presenting their offer if they are entering a multiple-offer situation.”

If you are the seller, you have a duty to disclose anything that occurs on the property between selling and closing — including basement flooding. “Depending upon the seriousness of the matter, the buyer may seek a price abatement, require the seller to remediate, or even cancel the sale,” Johnston says. “The buyer has recourse if he or she can prove that the seller knew or should have known that the property had a water intrusion issue.”

When preparing to sell your home, remember to check for and fix foundation cracks; ensure the ground slopes away from the house — and if it doesn’t consult a landscaper about the severity of the slope and possible solutions — and divert the house’s downspout from the sewer system (this is mandatory for homes in the City of Toronto). 

The City’s Basement Flooding Protection Subsidy Program helps homeowners install flood protection devices, including backwater valves, sump pumps and pipe severance and capping of the dwelling’s storm sewer, via funds of up to $3,400 per property.