Installing a French drain is a simple project that can be a considerable help in draining water away from your home's foundation or crawl space. In areas where the water table is high, or there is a small depression in the surrounding landscape, or there is a lot of rainfall, it is important to provide a means for water to move away from your home. The French drain is easily installed by a do-it-yourselfer, but seldom done, despite the fact that the cost is not prohibitive.
Installing a French drain is something you can do even if you are on a limited budget. The costs are minimal because the materials involved are few and inexpensive. Basically a French drain is a combination of PVC pipes and crushed rock that is laid in a small trench. The costs are not going to be a limiting factor.
Providing the Labor Yourself
The installation process of a French drain, while not a costly one, entails a lot of labor on your part. To save the expense of hiring a contractor, you will have to dig out a space around your crawl space or foundation. While you won't have the advantage of professional equipment, neither will you suffer the attendant damage to your landscaping. Doing the work yourself will save roughly $1,000 to $3,000 depending on the size of the drain.
Costs of Materials
Only two materials are needed to install a French drain. They are lengths of 4-inch PVC pipe, along with couplings, corners, and Ts, plus enough crushed rock to cover the bottom of the trench up to a depth of 2 feet. Depending on the size of your home, or where the French drain is needed, the costs can vary. However, crushed rock can be purchased as a cost of $2 to $4 per square foot depending on your area. PVC piping is an inexpensive material and very easy to work with.
Doing the project yourself will minimize a lot of the installation costs. In some instances, you may need to rent heavy equipment. At the very least you will need a compactor at approximately $65 to $85 a day. A Bobcat with a back-hoe attachment is something else that can be rented and make short work out of the digging of the trench. This cost can be $150 to $200 per day. A few dinners for friends that help out can be another cost factor, but well worth it.
Once the French drain has been installed you do not have to worry about ongoing costs. Since it is buried, maintenance issues seldom arise unless there is some sort of natural disaster or unusually high flooding. On the other hand, the potential savings in damage to your home with the installation of a French drain can be considerable.