The rain in Nashville falls mainly in your basement

Friday, September 6, 2019, Vol. 43, No. 36

Albert Hammond had a big hit with a song he co-wrote called “It Never Rains in Southern California.’’ Maybe not in California, but in Nashville, it rains and it rains all year. In February, the rain topped the charts with 12.55 inches, the most the city has seen in its history in that month.

According to the WPLN website, Nashville averages 47.24 inches per year, a number that solidly thumps Seattle’s 37 inches. Seattle can boast 147 days of rain compared with Nashville’s 119, hence its reputation for moisture.

In Nashville, when it rains, it pours and with all of the recent growth, the water is flowing differently than before and eroding the soil, knocking down fences in places and wreaking total havoc on crawl spaces and basements.

J.R. Vaughn was trained as a horticulturist and had a bustling business, but is now a modern-day Noah, having been called to save humanity and their shelters from the flood waters. He has been forced to double his workforce and is unable to attend all in need.

Try as it may, Nashville is has not gotten a handle on stormwater runoff.

Construction and wild weather have ravaged any chance of designing successful systems. When a couple of inches of rain fell two weeks ago, backyards in Green Hills had rivers running through them, a result of removing the storm water from the overladen sewer pipes.

Trends and fads – hailed at the time as breakthroughs – have exacerbated the problems in some cases. The much-ballyhooed encapsulated crawl spaces are now found to mask significant water problems. Recently, John Watkins of Nashville Home Inspection, one of the area’s most revered minds, once walked through an encapsulated crawl space and noted that he felt like he was “walking on a waterbed.’’

The homeowner had invested a significant amount of cash to have the system installed and called the company to repair the damage and the representative noted the area was “dry as a bone.’’ He was right, inasmuch as the plastic placed over the water was dry, but beneath the plastic, water ran.

In these situations, Vaughn noted that the water at times comes through holes between the foundation blocks where no mortar had been used. He said that at times footings are too high and allow water to run underneath and then rise to ground level where the water can flow below the plastic moisture barrier.

Additionally, sump pumps should be in the lowest point in the crawlspace and often are not installed in the lowest points as the limestone subsurface in Nashville can prove difficult.

2232 Chickering Lane

When probing sites, Vaughn explained that the limestone may be six inches below ground at one point and 12 inches below ground five feet away and then back to six inches five feet from the other site.

He refers to the limestone formations that rise and fall as washboard formations since they resemble a washboard from the side. The abundance of limestone beneath Nashville soil is not beneficial to the water issues as the water cannot percolate into the soil if it runs atop limestone.

J.R. Vaughn is of the opinion that the encapsulated crawl space should have the systems removed so that water problems can be more easily identified and then addressed. With a Southern accent and homespun wisdom that would rival David Crockett, Vaughn drawls, “We can fix the problem.’’

He added: “We may not get in on the first try. Maybe not the second, but we’ll get it.” Water’s tricky.

Sale of the Week

Until last week, only 11 houses had closed for $3 million or more all year in Nashville. Last week, the house at 1901 Edenbridge closed for $3,295,000, selling on its first day on the market, and the house at 2232 Chickering Lane in the Forest Hills area sold for $3 million even after spending only eight days on the market.

To be fair to the Chickering house, the Edenbridge house had a second residence included in the sale. Of the 13 sales, five have been in Belle Meade, and until last week only six had been outside the Belle Meade city limits, but the rest of the city is gaining on the bastion of affluence.

According to listing agent Paula Hinegardner, the belle of the Forest Hills real estate, at least for last week, the Chickering house was loaded with all the bells and whistles and its 37215 zip code was not a hindrance to the 8,312-square-foot manse plopped among two sprawling acres.

Hinegardner boasted that the house had a “stunning design element with smart technology” and was in “prestigious” Forest Hill, a well-deserved description. In addition to the custom wine room, the “recline stream shower,’ the home features the requisite nano wall.

With the nano wall in place, the outdoor living area is on display replete with a grilling pavilion, a pool, water/fire features and a spa. Some people grill, others use barbeque as a verb. A barbeque pavilion lacks the luster of a grilling pavilion.

At $361 per square foot, the neighbor and the tax assessor are happy.

Richard Courtney is a licensed real estate broker with Fridrich and Clark Realty and can be reached at