Searching for the Perfect Home?
Put a Properly Graded Lot on Your Must-Have List
During your search for a new home, have you ever noticed water pooling near the base of the house after a rain? There could be several circumstances causing this damaging situation, including a clogged or broken gutter system. A trained home inspector may look deeper into the situation to discover the gutters are fine but the soil around the property is not.
When it comes to foundation damage, improper grading around a house is one of the most common culprits. For the family shopping for their dream home, a properly graded lot may not sit atop their wish list of “must-haves,” but it’s something that shouldn’t be ignored.
A certified home inspector, like those at A-Pro Home Inspection, has years of experience recognizing ineffective grading that can cost homeowners big time to repair foundational damage. Further, a home inspector can recommend what needs to be done to correct the problem. The good news: fixing inadequate grading is relatively easy and affordable.
Here are some of the lot grading issues A-Pro home inspectors commonly discover:
Negative Grade: Your home inspector will note instances in which negative grade, also known as “poor grade,” directs water toward the building. This condition results in rainwater collecting against foundation walls, particularly at downspouts, window wells, and near steps. Water penetration can cause costly foundation deterioration. Saturated soil can also bring on settlement issues and water intrusion into basements and crawlspaces.
Level Grade: Flat surfaces around a house, while not as bad as negative grade, should be promptly addressed. The good news is that this condition can be taken care of rather inexpensively by raising the soil level near the foundation walls or, in cases where this is not possible, digging a swale to divert water from the foundation.
Settled Grade: When back-filled soil gradually settles around the foundation, grading that was originally positive will no longer efficiently move water away from the house. Steps should be taken to achieve positive grade once again. In newly built homes, this problem is often covered under the builder’s home warranty.
Siding Too Close to Grade: It is recommended to keep a minimum of six inches between the bottom of siding and the ground to prevent water from splashing on and underneath siding. When grading infringes on siding, this can lead to water penetration and rotting of the house’s frame.
Water from the Roof: Having proper grading is still no guarantee that you won’t have drainage problems. A home inspector will make sure that the gutter system is fully functional and that downspouts and downspout extensions are doing their job in directing roof water away from the foundation.
Too Much Mulch: Mulch may look attractive, but it can cause more harm than good when positioned close to or touching foundation walls. Water-retaining mulch, which rests on top of the soil, can also trick you into thinking you have positive grade. Bottom line: Remove mulch that is too close to the foundation.
An inspection when the ground is dry can only tell part of the story. Next time it rains, observe where the water flows – toward the house or away from it.
A complete grading assessment is part of an A-Pro 500-point inspection. To schedule a home inspection, call 406-426-2766.
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