The working principle of diverting the destructive force of water away from buildings can trace itself as early as Ancient Egypt. Similar concepts were borrowed and developed by the Ancient Romans and other Middle Eastern civilizations. However, one of the earliest forms of drainage systems still being widely used today began in the mid-19th Century.
Anyone may take a wild guess that the French drain was invented by its namesake nationality. But on the contrary, it pays homage to the visionary farmer named Henry French who wrote a book about soil irrigation and drainage. His idea of properly channeling surface water out of the drenched soil via a gravel bed somehow paves the way to understanding one of the most effective counter-measures against soil erosion.
Today, the French drain becomes the single most well-known method of draining surface water in rural or suburban areas in many countries worldwide. Instead of steel or PVC, the first French drains were made of clay pipe.
National Average Cost
Knowing the importance of the French drain is one thing. But for anyone who needs it in their property, how much does French drain cost? According to Fixr, the average French drain price in the United States is anywhere between $1,000 and $1,500. This standard projection already includes the basic materials, labor, and a number of small upgrades. The lowest average spending is somewhere around $400 to $600, especially given that the drain only covers a short distance.
However, it is important to take note that getting deeper into the crude quotation means knowing the several types of French drains. After all, the overall scope of the home improvement project determines the exact amount of money needed to fund the construction. Essentially, one type of French drain is basically more expensive than the other.
3 French Drain Settings
When it comes to the overall cost to install French drain, it is important for homeowners to know which part of the property requires draining. After all, the imperative is simply to divert the residue of water seeping into the interiors of the building as a result of hydrostatic pressure. These are the different types of French drains highlighted by House Logic:
Shallow French Drain
Installing a shallow French drain is a straightforward way of dealing with accumulating surface water anywhere outdoors. From a problematic area to the drainpipe’s exit, the channel must maintain a downward slope of at least 1 inch per 8 feet of length. This type of French drain costs $10 to $16 per linear foot.
Deep or Interior French Drain
In order to avoid pressurized water from seeping into the basement, a homeowner may choose to install a deep French drain and burrow the depths of the property’s foundation. Considering the challenges extensive renovation as well as building a pump to make up for the absence of slopes for the drain’s exit, creating this type of French drain costs $12,000 for a 1,500 square foot basement located 6 feet deep.
A cheaper alternative is the interior French drain. In many ways, it is similar to the deep French drain in terms of the complexity of renovating a relatively old and furnished basement. But unlike the deep French drain, this system does not require extensive digging. Hence, it only costs $3,000.
Retaining Wall & French Drain
While retaining walls keep the steep elevations from eroding, these foundations may eventually weaken from several waves of weathering and hydrostatic pressure. Building a French drain through the retaining wall channels seeping water out of the retaining wall, relieving the potential pressure build-up inside the wall. Installing this type of French drain costs around $5,000.
DIY Cost Inclusion
Considering that hiring professionals somehow contribute to the overall cost, how much does French drain cost if the homeowner does all the work? Strictly in terms of monetary value, a 50-foot long French drain may cost a total of $208 or $388. These are the following items comprising the overall Do-It-Yourself (DIY) budget:
- Excavation: $20 for one shovel
- Plastic PVC Drain Pipe: $20 for 50 feet long
- Drainage Gravel: $75 for 3 yards coverage ($115 including delivery)
- Landscape Fabric: $40 for 3×50 foot roll
- Grass Seed: $10 for a 3-pound bag
- *Trenching Tool: $125 to $200 per day
Renting a trenching tool is an option that may add up on top of the average French drain price. While it may increase the budget, it reduces the time and effort required to digging a channel for setting the drain pipe. Many people would consider this a sound investment.
Hiring the Professionals
The basic cost to install French drain always includes the first five materials mentioned in the DIY section of the article. However, homeowners may prefer to increase the significant premium on avoiding the physical and mental drudgery of the task by as much as a total of $2,750 for the complete 50-foot French drain. Hiring professionals may not always be an exorbitant deal, especially if the property in question sits on a very treacherous terrain.
Renting a backhoe alone only costs at least $300. However, the overall price could climb up to $1,500 if one includes the service of a professional operator. A professional contractor functions as the customer’s main workforce, costing around $25 per linear foot. These are the specific laborers one must take note when choosing contractors:
- Drainage Contractor: for all types of French drains
- Landscape Contractor: for exterior/shallow French drains
- Basement Contractor: for interior French drains
- Waterproofing Contractor: for retaining wall French drains
Top 10 Low Labor Cost Areas
Certain areas in the United States cost less than the projected national average. When one is looking forward to hiring professionals, it may benefit living in these following locations:
- Fruitland, Utah: 30% less
- Byron, Michigan: 27% less
- Lynchburg, Virginia: 23% less
- Albuquerque, New Mexico: 14% less
- Eugene, Oregon: 11% less
- Athens, Georgia: 9% less
- Fort Wayne, Indiana: 7% less
- Chesapeake, Virginia: 6% less
- Cary, North Carolina: 5% less
- Hamilton, Ohio: 3% less