Water Proofing a Basement in Brooklyn

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Dear Money Pit,
My husband and I are long time listeners. We own a fixer upper in Brooklyn NY that was built circa 1918. We have pulled out wood paneling that were covering the walls in the basement and noticed that the basement walls looked a bit worn down. We want to waterproof them- get them into shape so that eventually we can finish the basement properly. We called in a waterproofing company just to get a free estimate and some ideas as to what action we need to take. The rep came in and proceeded with the scare tactics right away. This rep was a huge bully told us we would need to excavate the entire foundation and so forth. Then he said there was another option (this was said after he said we need to excavate) which was to bore holes in the foundation drain the water, put in French drains, their patented drains, their patented pump then spray walls...and he went on for 2 hours with what we needed to do. Final quote 20K. My husband and I refused to sign the dotted line...told him thanks for the info and that we would think about it. He became agitated that we didn't want to go with them right away...to the point where I had to say "It's nothing personal we just like to weigh all options".. At one point we almost kicked him out of our house. Needless to say we are frustrated and are looking for some advice. We know that something needs to be done to our walls. We do have some of the "white stuff and it is a bit damp but we do not believe that our basement is in critical shape. Can you suggest any reputable companies who can come and give it a look or maybe even methods we can do ourselves? We are handy have been fixing up the house ourselves for the past 5 years. We like to do things right and are not worried about having to pay to make that happen but we don't like scam artists and we don't like feeling bullied. Would it be a good idea to call a home inspector in to tell us what he/she thinks we should do? Any light you could shed on this would be greatly appreciated.
Brooklyn Basement

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