I live in Mass, too, and it's very common to get water in the basement around here. I would suggest before your folks get into ant big project, they should try to find out where the water is getting in. It may be merely the result of yard grading, a gutter problem, or a leaky basement window. Or, it may be worse... I had water in my basement the first week I moved in my new house (and thought "oh great, what else didn't they tell me about?") but it turned out to be the result of a poorly-graded yard after a new septic system was installed (damn Title V!!). There are a number of different solutions to watery basements, so have them find the source of the problem before they dig up the yard!