First up, apologies to Steve, as well as VodkaPundit's regular readers, for taking up space with an entirely personal request.
I have an occasional problem with water in my basement. Since I bought my house (summer 2001), I've had to rip up and replace the carpet pad twice, most recently this last week after Hurricane Ivan dumped about a million gallons on Atlanta. I also have a very noticable damp spot in the basement's "low point" after other heavy rainfalls.
It's obvious what the problem is: the grading on the uphill side of the house has eroded away, and there's basically now a downhill slope onto the wall of the basement (also, the people I bought the house from were lying slime who deserve to be dipped in Aunt Jemima syrup and tied to a large fire ant bed, but never mind that now).
I confirmed this yesterday by ripping up all the landscaping across the wall in front of the basement; you can actually see the holes in the dirt where water can flow down to the slap, slip through the slab/wall crack, and proceed to make my life miserable. I've got a jury-rigged plastic tarp that's hopefully protecting the basement from Jeanne at the moment, but it's definitely not a permanent solution.
Having read up a bit and asked a contractor buddy for advice, I'm planning to re-grade that part of the yard and install some kind of drainage just uphill from the new grade to carry water around the corner and away from the house. I've had one waterproofer come out for an estimate, which I don't have yet but expect to be substantial (he wants to dig down to the foundation, apply a rubber/polymer layer to the wall, then recover the wall, regrade, and put in a drain). I'm having another couple of estimates done over the next two weeks.
Anyway, my question for those who've (a) had this done before, and/or (b) have actual expertise in the matter, what would you do? My first reaction is to do the cheap thing first, i.e., put in a grade and a simple drain myself, then if that doesn't work, call in the professionals and write that big check.
Any thoughts, comments, suggestions, or even helpful insults would be most appreciated. I'm damn tired of moving furniture and ripping up carpet--and you don't even want to know what my wife thinks about it...