What I'm Seeing Now


This Is What A Negative Grade In The Front Yard Looks Like Over Time

A photo will follow.  This is what a negative grade in the front yard looks like over time.

The first thing I do when I get to a house is walk around it a couple of times.  And hopefully that before the client arrives.  Then I walk around again with the client, and we talk.

One thing we often discuss is grading and how water is carried away from the house.  Water comes from rain, snow, downspouts and sump pumps. The square footage of a roof represents a lot of water.  One inch of rain in an area only 11"x19" is one gallon.

Provision has to be made for that water to be encouraged away from the house.

The best encouragement is a positive slope, or terrain that slopes downward as it gets further from the house.

A lot of slope isn't necessary, only an inch or so every 5' or 6'.  Extending downspouts and sump pumps is very important part of this positive-grade encouragement.

The slope in soil doesn't photograph well.

But walking around a house it is easy to see and feel.

This house is a long ranch, with the typical downspout discharge near the front corner.

The soil has become a big dimple in that area.

When the downspout discharges it certainly forms a little pool.

Buyers can see and feel that.

Usually they do not want to venture into the crawl space with me so photos will have to suffice.

But it is easy here to see the severe moisture caused in the foundation wall and soil just inside that corner.

The soil here is only 3' below grade.

And it had not seriously rained here in a while.

Water is THE killer of houses over time.  It has to be controlled.  This is just one photo of a lot of area of wetness. 

All in all this is an unhealthful condition, for the structure and the human being!  And it is an easy fix.

My recommendation:  when the home inspector suggests better grading, it is for a reason!  Sometimes the result of improper grading cannot be seen, only smelled or felt.  But those bad results are there!  So proper grading is essential, with a positive slope away from the house and the extension of water discharge points.




Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC  

Based in Bristow, serving all of Northern Virginia.

Office (703) 330-6388   Cell (703) 585-7560


Comment balloon 45 commentsJay Markanich • January 30 2013 03:31AM
This Is What A Negative Grade In The Front Yard Looks Like Over Time
A photo will follow. This is what a negative grade in the front yard looks like over time. The first thing I do when I get to a house is walk around it a couple of times. And hopefully that before the client arrives. Then I walk around… more
Isn't A Front Porch Roof Heavy? How Should It Be Attached?
I like a front porch on a house, which usually has its own roof. But, isn't a front porch roof heavy? How should it be attached? Compared to Mother Nature's power, a front porch roof weighs very little. It should be attached such that it is… more
Inspection Class Was In Session
Approaching a backyard shed I was greeted by what was obviously a group of eager students wanting to watch and learn. They followed me around as I looked about. There was one recalcitrant fellow, strutting around, even talking loudly during… more
So, Why Was No Air Blowing From The Kitchen HVAC Register?
We noticed the kitchen was noticeably cooler when I went in to drop off my tools and start the dishwasher. So I felt the floor register. No air was blowing. So, why was no air blowing from the kitchen HVAC register? I LOVE STARTING OUT A… more
On This Inspection I Ran Into A Real Hornet's Nest
I really did - on this inspection I ran into a real hornet's nest. And it was gorgeous! It's bigger than a basketball! What kind of bee is this? It is the Bald-faced Hornet. And they are nasty. Hornets don't like… more
Mouse Highway!
Some people think that if their house is in "the big city" there is less chance for mice to bother the house. Not true. They are around, and when it's cold they will want to get in. It's best not to provide them a mouse highway! A… more
Three Heat Exchangers In The Attic
While it would be unusual to have three heat exchangers in the attic if they were furnaces, these three were not. Instead of furnaces, these heat exchangers were all skylights. This house has been vacant for some time. I noticed… more
Sister, Sister
Nothing but wood talk here when I says sister, sister. A technique for strengthening or shoring up wood framing is to "sister" another board beside the one you wish to strengthen. However, it pays to attach the two firmly and… more
Inside Job
Sometimes, just looking at things from the outside, you get a sense that there's going to be an inside job. Not every inside job is a crime, but in some cases… So, what was going on outside? The perfect storm between a tree, the… more
When Is It Too Cold To Paint Outdoors?
When is it too cold to paint outdoors? Driving through a neighborhood of new construction, and arriving at the finished house I was to inspect, I noticed something that disturbed me. I saw painters painting the foundation walls! … more