Home Improvement May 20, 2022

Cooking Switch – Gas to Induction


The Technology

Under the ceramic/glass cooktop (called a “hob”), there’s a copper coil – when you turn on the power, electric current flows through the coil, producing a magnetic field. This magnetic field causes the iron in your cookware to generate heat – this heated pan then transfers the heat to your food/water inside it, while the surface of the cooktop remains cool to the touch. Heat is only generated when there is a pan on the induction burner – this cuts out the intermediate step of heating a burner to transfer that heat to your pot/pan.

Logistics & Costs

You may need new cookware – your traditional copper/aluminum/glass vessels aren’t going to work with an induction stove. Check your existing pans with a magnet – if it sticks to the bottom of the pan, it should be induction-compatible! Cast-iron pans, enamel-covered iron pots, and even some magnetic stainless steel that you already have may work. OR: you can get an induction interface disk.

  • Cooking time may increase a bit, since the heat is created in the disk, and then transferred to your pan (rather than being created directly in an induction-compatible pan)
  • Usually requires a 240V outlet (looks like a “dryer outlet”)
  • Choose between a drop-in cooktop that is separate from any oven – or a range combo that pairs the cooktop with a connected electric convection oven
  • Since it’s electric – you won’t be able to use it in a power outage!
  • In use, you may notice a slight buzzing noise – there’s a fan inside the cooktop for internal cooling purposes. Heavier pans can dampen this noise
  • Learning curve – like anything new, it may take a bit of adjustment to get the hang of the cooking controls
  • Appliance cost: just like many other appliances, you can find models across a wide price range based on brand, features, and size from $1500-$5000+
  • Cookware cost: from $170 for a set, to over $2000, you can probably find an induction compatible set of cookware to match your budget and your cooking style


Fast, efficient cooking! You can reduce up to 50% of your cooking time because of the rapid response of the electromagnetic system. Plus the temperature of the pan changes the instant the current is adjusted – cooks have more control over the temperature, and especially so on the low end.

  • Efficiency: electric cooktop cooking only allows 60-70% of the heat from the stove to reach the food, and with a gas range it’s only 40-55%. Induction cooking allows 90% of the heat to reach the food, resulting in your kitchen staying cooler
  • Better for the climate and your home environment – gas stoves release nitrogen dioxide, carbon monoxide, and formaldehyde during the normal cooking process
  • Safer – no open flame or exposed heating element to accidentally start a fire. Even if you turn on an induction burner with no pot on it, it won’t heat up – and when you remove your pot from the induction stove, the heating immediately stops. The only hot surface that could potentially burn you is the pan itself. Also, many induction hobs can sense whether a pan is on them, and if not, will automatically shut off.
  • Easy clean-up of the smooth glass cooktop.


  • Myth #1:  The electromagnetic radiation waves are harmful

These appliances do create non-ionizing or low-frequency EMF. According to the National Cancer Institute, there are no current studies that show this type of radiation causes any adverse effects, including cancer.

  • Myth #2:  I get better control when cooking with gas

Induction responds far quicker to the temperature, and includes temperature displays to help you fine tune your cooking to the exact degree – resulting in faster, more precise control over your cooking than gas.

  • Myth #3:  Since I can’t preheat my pan, I can’t saute properly

With induction, you no longer need to warm your pan prior to sauteing – this cooking nuance developed because of the inefficiencies of cooking with gas. Also, when you remove your pan from the induction cooktop, it still retains its heat, much like when you take a pan out of a flame.

  • Myth #4:  The glass surface will warp and crack with heavy use over time

Induction units don’t use tempered glass (only for use with temps under 600F) – they use tempered ceramic glass, which is significantly stronger and can withstand temperatures up to 1200F.

  • Myth #5:  It’s not safe for people with pacemakers?

While it may indeed be safe enough to use, be sure to check in with your doctor before using any electromagnetic frequency, like induction cooking, around anyone with a pacemaker!


So – what do you think? Are you considering making the switch? I’m curious – drop me a line with your thoughts!

Click here to learn more about induction

Market Updates March 28, 2022

Blockchain Technology and Cryptocurrencies in Real Estate

Wondering how crypto and blockchain are already playing roles in real estate transactions? Me too. Take 10 minutes to check out the most recent “Mondays with Matthew” video to get our chief economist’s 10,000-foot view, and enough information for some talking points at your next dinner party…
(transcription below)


Hello there, I’m Windermere Real Estate’s chief economist, Matthew Gardner, and welcome to the latest episode of Mondays with Matthew. This month we’re going to take a look at Blockchain technology and cryptocurrencies themselves and how both may impact home buyers and sellers in the future.

But before we dive into the potential impacts of cryptocurrency on the residential housing market, I must preface this by saying that the very word “crypto” is one that certainly divides people. Some see it as revolutionary, a tangible asset that will take over one day as the de-facto global currency, while others believe it to be unsustainable and ultimately valueless. And there are even some who firmly believe that it’s nothing more than a Ponzi scheme.

Now, everyone is certainly entitled to their opinion, and I will refrain from offering my own view on the currencies themselves, but, although still in its infancy, it continues to evolve and is garnering significant interest from individuals and large corporations alike.

Why are corporations interested, you ask? Well, a recent report from Crypto.com1 put the number of people around the globe who own some form of cryptocurrency at more than 295 million and they are forecasting this number to explode this year and hit the 1 billion mark! And the value of all these currencies today? As of March 14, the combined value of all cryptocurrencies was 1.74 trillion dollars2 with the largest, Bitcoin, valued at almost 740 billion dollars. So, it should not be a surprise to see many mainstream companies across multiple industry sectors start to introduce ways to accept crypto as payment for goods and services.

Companies moving into this space include AMC movie Theaters3 who recently announced their plan to accept coins by the end of this year. Fintech companies like Paypal and Square are also betting on crypto by allowing users to buy currency on their platforms. And, unsurprising to most, Tesla is also interested, but have yet to confirm whether they will accept coins as payment for their vehicles or not.

With cryptocurrencies now gaining traction in mainstream businesses, the housing sector has started to take an interest too with the emergence of companies like Propy, whose goal is to totally automate the home sales process by introducing Blockchain based technology to allow transactions to occur entirely online using smart contracts. Other companies are figuring out how to use blockchain technology to grow the “fractional-ownership” segment of the housing market.

But when it comes to simply buying a house—well that is an entirely different situation. Of course, a home buyer could easily cash out the Crypto they have and use those funds for a down payment, or even to buy a house outright. But we don’t see more of this today as they understand selling their currency is a taxable event and, more than likely, taxes owed will hit their balance sheets pretty hard. And knowing that this is a real issue in the market, it should come as no surprise that a company has come up with a plan to overcome what is seen as one of the biggest obstacles to using digital currency for home buying.

Blockchain Technology and Cryptocurrencies in Real Estate

A slide introducing the cryptocurrency-based real estate company Milo and how their transactions work.


And they are Milo, who claim to offer the world’s first “crypto-mortgage”. Essentially, they will allow borrowers to use Bitcoin—but only Bitcoin as of right now—as collateral for a 30-year mortgage.

How this works is pretty simple. All buyers have to do is to “pledge” their coins on a one-for-one basis. Simply put, someone looking for a $500,000 mortgage would have to put up $500,000 worth of Bitcoin. This way, they don’t actually have to sell their coins, so there are no tax implications. And instead of going through a FICO credit check and showing proof of income to evaluate a borrower’s creditworthiness, Milo evaluates them based on their crypto wealth as well as the value of the property they are hoping to buy.

And in exchange for locking up their crypto, borrowers get a 30-year mortgage for their home purchase can also make their mortgage payments via traditional currency or Bitcoin. But there are differences between this and a traditional mortgage. First off is the interest rate. It currently ranges anywhere from 5 to 8% depending on the loan-to-value ratio. This is higher than the rate they could get today.

And the interest rate is not fixed, but variable, and based on the prevailing price of Bitcoin. The rate can go up or down depending on the value of the Bitcoin they have pledged, and this mortgage rate will be adjusted every year. Interestingly, if the price of Bitcoin goes up, borrowers can actually take back some of their crypto once a year. If the price of Bitcoin goes down, they may be asked to provide more crypto as collateral.

And finally, when the buyer sells, on closing Milo is paid back in U.S. dollars, and then the seller gets the Bitcoins they used for collateral back, along with the profit made on the sale.

I think that this is certainly an interesting play in the ownership housing sector and, although still in its infancy, looks to meet the needs of crypto owners who don’t want to face the tax obligation that would occur if they were to sell their coins to buy a home. Now, I must make clear that Windermere is certainly not endorsing Milo. In fact, I personally have concerns about the program given how volatile cryptocurrencies are.

You see, it is possible that users may be caught out by the value of their Bitcoin dropping significantly and, if this occurs at or around their anniversary date, it could significantly raise the interest rate—and therefore the monthly payment—on that loan, and if the price drops too far, then they may have to go through what is, in essence, a margin call, where they will have to submit more funds to the lender to bring them back to a point where equity in the home combined with the value of the Bitcoin covers the loan itself.

And I would add that if for some reason the buyer has to sell the home within the first three years4 of purchase there are pre-payment penalties that will be incurred. All in all, it is an interesting model, but it is still in its infancy. As always, time will tell how well it gets adopted.

The bottom line for me is that the likelihood of Cryptocurrency revolutionizing the way we buy homes from a finance perspective is still several years away, but after that, who knows! Something that does have the capacity to be adopted into the mainstream far quicker is the blockchain technology itself. I personally see title insurance as a segment that could benefit significantly and may well adopt this tech sooner than others.

With title insurance companies responsible for verifying and ensuring that a buyer or lender (depending on the type of title insurance) gets either clean ownership or a lien position in the land in question, Blockchain could change many aspects of how these processes are carried out. Here are some of the benefits:

The Potential Benefits of Blockchain Technology in Real Estate

A slide showing the benefits of Blockchain technology in real estate transactions, namely added security.


Security. More than 25 percent of title reports (alta.org) detail some form of defect to the title itself, but the ability of blockchain to immediately detect erroneous or potentially fraudulent information can significantly help to support the reliability of the records, therefore making the job of title insurance companies much more straightforward.


A slide showing the benefits of Blockchain technology in real estate, smart contracts, for example.


And then there’s smart contracts, which are actually a form of e-closing that is already beginning to be embraced by some in the industry. This technology makes the transfer of ownership almost seamless. Literally, it would take just a few clicks of a mouse. And this is also a massive benefit for the industry as the closing process would also change dramatically and become far more effortless and less time consuming than today’s standard means of closing on a home purchase.


A slide showing the benefits of Blockchain technology in real estate, improved record-keeping included.


And finally, record-keeping. While fraud and tampering are huge concerns for title companies, blockchain could all but eliminate these instances within ownership records. And, as it would convert land records to a distributed ledger, it cannot be altered within the blockchain itself, therefore making it safe in perpetuity. Blockchain, by design, prevents bad information from disrupting the chain and any attempt to tamper with it can be easily detected and therefore avoided. This is a massive upgrade from the county ledger that title insurance companies find themselves working with today.

No one can deny that Blockchain and cryptocurrencies, while still relatively new, do not appear to be just a flash in the pan. As we have discussed today, a number of companies continue to make inroads into the real estate world. Will some fail? Of course. But others will succeed. So, while still in its infancy, we should all have some sort of understanding of its potential to be a disruptor in the housing space in the future.

It’s my own personal belief that the Blockchain tech itself will be the thing that gets adopted by the real estate world faster than the rise of crypto as a way to buy or finance a home but, whatever your thoughts on this topic are, I think that it is highly unlikely that we will see it simply fade away over time.

As always, if you have any questions or comments about this particular topic, please do reach out to me but, in the meantime, stay safe out there and I look forward to visiting with you all again next month. Bye now.



  1. https://crypto.com/
  2. https://coinmarketcap.com/
  3. https://www.reuters.com/
  4. https://help.milocredit.com/
Home Buying & Selling March 9, 2022

Why it’s critical to price your house right

Why It’s Critical To Price Your House Right

Why It’s Critical To Price Your House Right | MyKCM

When you make a move, you want to sell your house for the highest price possible. That might be why many homeowners are eager to list in today’s sellers’ market. After all, with record-low inventory and high buyer demand, many homes are selling for more than asking price. Data from the National Association of Realtors (NAR) shows that, nationwide, 46% of homes are selling above list price today.

But even in a market like we have now, working with an agent to set the right asking price is critical, as pricing it too high or too low could have a negative impact on your final sale. Here’s why.

Pricing Your House Right Is Crucial Even in a Sellers’ Market

The price you set for your house sends a message to potential buyers. Price it too low and you might raise questions about your home’s condition or lead buyers to assume something is wrong with the property. Not to mention, you could leave money on the table, which decreases your future buying power if you undervalue your house.

On the other hand, price it too high and you run the risk of deterring buyers. When that happens, you may have to do a price drop to try to re-ignite interest in your house when it sits on the market for a while. But be aware that a price drop can be seen as a red flag for some buyers who will wonder why the price was reduced and what that means about the home.

In other words, think of pricing your home as a target. Your goal is to aim directly for the center – not too high, not too low, but right at market value. Pricing your house fairly based on market conditions increases the chance you’ll have more buyers who are interested in purchasing it. That makes it more likely you’ll see a bidding war, too. And when a bidding war happens, you’ll likely get an even higher final sale price. Plus, when homes are priced right, they tend to sell quickly.

To get a look into the potential downsides of over or underpricing your house and the perks that come with pricing it at market value, see the chart below:

Why It’s Critical To Price Your House Right | MyKCM

Lean on a Professional’s Expertise To Price Your House Right

There are several factors that go into pricing your house and balancing them is the key. That’s why it’s important to lean on an expert real estate advisor when you’re ready to move. A local real estate advisor is knowledgeable about:

  • The value of homes in your neighborhood
  • The current demand for houses in today’s market
  • The condition of your house and how it affects the value

A real estate professional will balance these factors to make sure the price of your house makes the best first impression and gives you the greatest return on your investment in the end.

Bottom Line

Even in a sellers’ market, pricing your house right is critical. Don’t rely on guesswork. Let’s connect to make sure your house is perfectly priced.

Maintenance Tips March 1, 2022

Keep it sealed – your grout, that is

If you have tile in your home, then you likely have grout too. And if you have grout, you likely have some degree of challenge keeping it clean. Whether dirt gets ground into it on the floor, cooking grime on tiled kitchen counters, or the inevitable mold/mildew in the shower grout – the commonality is that it can be comically hard to clean it and keep it that way.

There are numerous cleaning solutions and potions you can research on the internet – take your pick of baking soda/vinegar, lemons, peroxide, or fancy brand-name products. But I just discovered an indispensable tool that will make any of them work 10x harder – THE DRILL BRUSH! How am I this old and have never tried this until now?! I used to scrub endlessly, and still be disappointed with the results… but this worked like a charm on my shower walls and floor – this is definitely the cleanest I’ve seen this grout in years.

a drill with brush head attachments for cleaning

The Drill Brush attachments!

OK, now that your grout is clean, you want to keep it that way – and since grout is porous, you also want to keep moisture from seeping in. Here comes the grout sealant. For high traffic areas like your main shower, you really do need to seal the grout at least annually (yep, go do a catch-up now – and don’t worry, you’re not alone if you haven’t done this in ages). Less-used areas like a guest bath can go longer. Here are some other grout sealing tips that I appreciated reading.

tile and sealed grout showing water beading off the sealant

Water beads off properly sealed grout (or is absorbed into unsealed grout).


While you’re at it, this is a great time to re-caulk your tub, shower doors, or any other old caulk connections.

And seriously… get yourself a drill brush…

Home Improvement February 21, 2022

Take care of your sewer line, so it can take care of you

Seems like an underground system made of tough PVC, iron, and concrete pipe should be nearly indestructible. But the “underground factor” weighs in heavily here – if anything DOES go wrong, it can be invasive and expensive to fix. Older homes (and older sewer lines) definitely need your TLC and may even need to be put on your annual or regular maintenance plan.


My first home was a post-war cottage in Charlotte, NC, and when I moved into it in 2000, the sudsy water from my first load of laundry promptly came gurgling up my bathtub drain. It, um, could have been uglier, I suppose… a call to a rescue plumber revealed a sewer scope video of tree roots grown inside the old terracotta side sewer pipe (this was my first introduction to that old method of construction!). Before we knew it, the front yard had been trenched to the street, old pipe removed, and shiny, smooth, new PVC pipe laid in its place. And silver lining: the water main was also near this pipe – and fell apart in the plumber’s hands when he moved it, so we had it replaced at the same time for very little added cost (and felt much better about our drinking water).

trench with new sewer line

All-new sewer line and water main, Charlotte, NC, 2000.


Next home in 2008 was a new-construction townhome. Not even remotely concerned about the sewer line… but this was my first introduction to King County’s sewage treatment capacity charge – a fee to connect new construction (since 1990) to the sewer system, amortized over 15 years and billed to us quarterly. When you sell your home, you have the choice to pay off the balance or pass it along with the property to the new owners.


Fast-forward to this week in my 1958 mid-century home:  water flooding various parts of the basement again! If you read my stories on basement waterproofing, you’ll understand why I was so confused to find MORE water in areas that had been waterproofed. I mopped it up with towels, threw them in the laundry, and puzzled over where the water was coming from… and then MORE water appeared. At that point, it was clear that the laundry water (deja vu?) was coming up the shower drain in the basement – the lowest point of exit in the sewer system.

Rescue plumbers were called in to clear the blockage – but their tools had a tough time getting through the twists and turns and different pipe types added into our system over the years. The sewer line had been scoped just nine months before, and we knew there were some pitted, cracked, and eroded areas of the line that could potentially cause problems in the future. Of course it now looked like one of the eroded turns in the pipe had accumulated debris like a pocket, which eventually blocked the line and caused the back-up. It would have been relatively straightforward to use a high-pressure water jet to dislodge the block, if there had been an exterior sewer cleanout to provide access to the pipes. Next up? Install a cleanout!

sewer cleanout cap

Looking for a sewer cleanout at your home – example 1

sewer cleanout with downspout

Sewer cleanout example 2.

The sewer scope/locator tools (and their operators) are pretty amazing – they can help pinpoint not just the linear location along the pipe, but also the depth in the ground! Several hours of digging three feet into hard, wet, clay soil exposed a portion of concrete pipe, which was then fitted with a vertical pipe extending back up to the surface. Through this, we’ll now have much easier access to jet the line when needed. The blockage turned out to include many rocks and bits of rubble, likely fallen down the bathroom drains when it was being demolished for waterproofing – learn from my project, and don’t let this happen!

hole dug near driveway

Excavating to add a new sewer cleanout.

garden with new sewer cleanout

Completed installation of new sewer cleanout.

Home Buying & Selling January 31, 2022

Buyers Want To Know: Why Is Housing Supply Still So Low?

rows of colored houses

One key question that’s top of mind for homebuyers this year is: why is it so hard to find a house to buy? The truth is, we’re in the ultimate sellers’ market, so real estate is ultra-competitive for buyers right now. The number of buyers searching for a home greatly outweighs how many homes are available for sale.

While low inventory in the housing market isn’t new, it’s a challenge that continues to grow over time. Here’s a look at two reasons why today’s housing supply is low and what that means for you.


1. New Home Construction Fell Behind for Several Years

The graph below shows new home construction for single-family homes over the past five decades, including the long-term average for housing units completed. Builders exceeded that average during the housing bubble (shown in red on the graph). The result was an oversupply of homes on the market, so home values declined. That was one of the factors that led to the housing crash back in 2008.

Since then, the level of new home construction has fallen off. For the last 13 straight years, builders haven’t been able to construct enough homes to meet the historical average (as illustrated in green on the graph). That underbuilding left us with a multi-year inventory deficit going into the pandemic.

Buyers Want To Know: Why Is Housing Supply Still So Low? | MyKCM

2. The Pandemic’s Impact on the Housing Market

Then, when the pandemic hit, it fueled a renewed appreciation and focus on the meaning of home. Having a safe space to live, work, school, and exercise became even more important for Americans throughout the country. So, as mortgage rates dropped to at or below 3%, buyers eagerly entered the market looking to capitalize on those low rates to secure a home that would fulfill their changing needs. At the same time, sellers hesitated to put their houses on the market as concerns about the pandemic mounted.

The result? The number of homes available for sale dropped even further. A recent article from realtor.com explains:

Last month, the number of home listings dropped 26.8% compared with the same time a year earlier. This meant there were about 177,000 fewer homes listed in what’s already typically a slower month due to the holidays and colder weather. . . .”

What Does All of This Mean for You?

For a buyer, low inventory can be a challenge. You want to find the home of your dreams, and you don’t want to settle. But what if there just aren’t that many homes to choose from?

There is some good news. Experts are projecting more homes will soon become available thanks to sellers re-entering the market. Danielle Hale, Chief Economist at realtor.com, shares this hope, but offers perspective:

We expect that we’ll start to see a turnaround and inventory will stabilize and start to go up a little bit in 2022. . . . But that means we’re looking at inventory levels of roughly half of what we saw before the pandemic. For buyers, the market is likely to continue to move fast. If you see a home you like, you want to jump on it right away.

Basically, inventory is still low, even though more homes are coming. But you shouldn’t put your plans on hold because you’re waiting for those additional houses to hit the market.  Instead, stick with your search and persevere through today’s low inventory. You can find your next home if you’re patient and focused.

Remember your goals and why finding a home is so important. Those things should be the driving force behind your search. Share them with your agent and be clear about your priorities. Your trusted advisor is your greatest support as you navigate today’s low housing supply to find the home of your dreams.

Bottom Line 

If you’re planning to buy this year, the key to success will be patience given today’s low inventory. Let’s connect to discuss what’s happening in our area, what homes are available, and why it’s still worthwhile to prioritize your home search today.

Home Buying & Selling January 13, 2022

How To Hit Your Homebuying Goals This Year 

If you’re looking to buy a home this year, you may want to put these items on your to-do list:

  • It’s important to start working on your credit and saving for a down payment early.
  • When you’re ready to begin your search, work with a real estate professional and lender to get pre-approved so you know how much you can borrow.
  • Connect with a real estate advisor (like me!) so you have the guidance you need to achieve your homebuying goals this year.

How To Hit Your Homebuying Goals This Year [INFOGRAPHIC] | MyKCM

Home Improvement January 6, 2022

Home Office Reno/Refresh

After waterproofing our basement, we were left with some unfinished walls, no flooring, and the opportunity to change the look and functionality of our home office – a fresh beginning for a space that’s become mission-critical during the pandemic! We decided to tackle it DIY-style to learn new skills and save some money.

home office with blue counters and floors

Office before construction

home office with blue counters and floors

Office before construction (back wall)


Wall Repair:  To fix the framing, the sill plate had to be secured with adhesive in all spots where the drains and waterproof membrane were installed. From there, we screwed short segments of 2″x4″s to each stud and the base to serve as patches. These photos and measurements will be passed along to any future homeowners, so they’re aware of the “jog” in each stud.

Drywall repairs like ours aren’t particularly difficult, but we learned it pays to be precise! The demolition left us with the dreaded “butt-joint” repair at 24″ high around the full perimeter. The videos at Home RenoVision DIY are filled with helpful tips and techniques and encouragement!

mid-construction image of a wall being rebuilt

Studs extended over the waterproofing to the new sill plate.

drywall in the middle of being repaired, the seams have been taped and mudded

Taped and mudded. Be precise when cutting out those outlets and junction boxes!


Flooring:  I firmly believe that carpet installation is best left to the professionals! We picked a pet-friendly product in a pewter-gray, with a wave pattern that reminds me of the beach at low tide. The installers seamlessly connected the office with the guest room. We liked the carpet so much, we decided to continue it into the TV room, replacing its distinctive (but worn) Kermit-the-Frog-green carpet and linoleum pathway. The room feels so much bigger now, and the office is much warmer than before!


dark gray carpet with wave pattern in empty white office

New carpet installed and baseboard seams caulked.

lime green carpet and red-green linoleum flooring in basement tv room

Before: TV room with old flooring

dark gray carpet with wave pattern in empty basement tv room

After: TV room with new carpet


Functionality:  The previous built-in countertops were part of the demolition, but we were able to save the cabinetry and rearrange to suit a new configuration with two adjustable sit-stand desks. The new acacia-wood countertops were finished with tung oil for a lovely natural shine; they’re also REALLY heavy – save your toes, and get help when lifting them! Lastly, the new paint job in medium gray cuts down on the glare from screens and overhead lighting.

acacia wood counters shown before and after application of tung oil

Acacia counter tops before and after applying several coats of tung oil.

finished photo of remodeled home office

Finished office, ready for work!

final photo of remodeled home office back wall printer cabinet

Office back wall with printer and filing cabinets.

Home Improvement November 20, 2021

Basement Waterproofing – fix it from the inside

Wet basement? Yep, me too. But not anymore! In my previous post about French drains, I mentioned that I’ve been struggling with water entering my finished basement for the past five years I’ve owned my home. Luckily the worst part was floored with linoleum-type material, not carpet that would saturate – but I still had no idea if the water was damaging or causing mold inside the walls. Exterior French drains were installed, but the water always found a way back into the office.

After reaching the conclusion that we live on top of a “seasonal spring” and realizing no further exterior work was feasible, tearing up the basement to waterproof the “cold joint” (the place where the concrete foundation walls meet the slab) sounded like the best option. This solution involves putting an interior French drain around the perimeter of the basement and covering it with a waterproof membrane before closing up the walls and floors. Water then seeps into the pipe and drains out by gravity if you have the slope for it, or by sump pump if you don’t. Rather than continually fight the water intrusion, this feels like a much more Zen-like approach:  allow the water to enter where it wants to, capture it, and then redirect it where YOU want it to go to avoid damaging your home.

Diving in? Surprisingly, this can be a pretty fast process – my project took one week for the demolition and the drain install. The repairs to walls and floors took longer because we chose to DIY.

Here are some progress photos of the office portion of the project; the guest room, bathroom, laundry room, and garage were part of the full endeavor.

Demolition:  drywall, insulation, and framing are removed to a height of 2’ throughout the entire area. Flooring also needs to be removed, and in my case, completely replaced.

a home office with built-in cabinetry

Office: before construction

office with walls removed 2' from floor

Walls demolished and prepped

water staining on white concrete wall

Markings from water intrusion at the cold joint


Trenching:  the drainage team jackhammered a trench into the foundation. In the process, they discovered this home ALREADY had a basement drainage system, but it was completely clogged and clearly not waterproofed! They ripped it out, cleaned up the mud, and replaced it with new piping and gravel.

muddy, clogged basement drain

Trench exposed an old, clogged drain which was removed.

basement trench with new drain and gravel

New drains installed, new gravel


Waterproofing:  the black waterproof membrane was installed behind the studs and over the drainage trench, and then it was covered with a layer of concrete to provide a level base for flooring to be installed over it. Note:  use only adhesive products when reinstalling framing and flooring over the drains. Any screws/nails/bolts will puncture the waterproof membrane.

Finished drain with waterproof membrane and concrete covering

Finished drain with waterproof membrane and concrete covering


Maintenance:  this system has four “clean-out” ports for access. Once or twice a year, I’ll run water into the system at the beginning, and watch to make sure it flows past each of the ports and out of the system. I can also check during the rainy season and see that the system is collecting water, which sort of puts my mind at ease.

a hole in the drainpipe for cleaning and maintenance

One of four access points to the new drainage system


Future:  Friends who’ve had their system for a few years have said their new-found peace-of-mind during winter storms is incredible. I’ll admit it’s hard to shake that anxiety about water intrusion, but I already feel 100 times more comfortable in this first season testing it out! Next up:  putting the walls back together…

Home Improvement October 1, 2021

Drain the rain away…

As we enter the rainy season here in Seattle, your home (like mine!) may experience too much water…

Water flooding your yard, or especially entering your basement, is really scary and overwhelming. You think, how can I possibly move this water somewhere else, or even soak it up because it just keeps coming. It’s a little like bailing the ocean. After dealing with water problems in several houses, I can honestly say it’s much less scary now, and yes, still annoying. French drains can be your best friend, both inside your home (a story for another day) and outside.

This is a system that uses gravity to divert water away from your home or yard, along with water’s natural tendency to follow the path of least resistance. The typical French drain consists of two main parts – the drain field, where excess water enters the pipes, and the drain exit which is the lowest point and where water leaves the system. Essentially, it’s a gravel-filled trench lined with a perforated pipe, providing an easy channel for water to flow through, leading it away from your home.

In the fall of 2016, Seattle experienced record-breaking rains – and my home experienced a flooded patio and basement. Drainage experts installed 150’ of new French drains around the home and patio perimeter, and tied my gutters into a solid pipe system to make sure roof run-off was not adding water to the problem. The hand-dug project took about a week (too tight to get any machinery behind my home), and was covered over in red lava rock instead of plain gravel.

French drains are effective and low-maintenance, but not NO maintenance. Every year or so, you need to move some gravel and see if run-off dirt is clogging it, making it harder for the water to reach the perforated pipe. If so, you need to remove the stones, wash the dirt from them, and replace them around the pipe. If you have drainage issues, feel free to contact me for my experiences, contractor recommendations, or just to commiserate!

french drain under construction

french drain under construction

french drain under construction

french drain under construction