What I'm Seeing Now

head_left_image

When This House Gets A Better Grade, I'll Give It A Better Grade

When this house gets a better grade, I'll give it a better grade. Why?  Because grading is everything! 

WATER IS THE KILLER OF HOUSES, INSIDE AND OUT!

A bit hard to see from this picture, fully one half of this driveway, and all of the front sidewalk, drains water toward the house.  You can see that the front yard is below the driveway AND the street!

This front yard is a bowl.

There has been an attempt to divert water around the front of the house.

But is it working?

The front stoop is a squishy area.  The slate tiles move so much all the mortar is cracked or missing.

My weight alone moves every one of them as they rest on a soup of mud and water.  They were very poorly founded.

And they are inclined toward the house.

As I arrived water was pooling near the front step.

Washington gets about 35" of rainfall annually.  In the past two months we have gotten 14-17" depending on where you live.

That's a lot of water.  Is it affecting this house in a bowl?

There is a basic "mildew" smell in the basement.  It's really a mold smell, but everyone uses the word "mildew."

The image on the left is under the front stoop.

This is the last stair entering the basement.

This step and wall are about 1' from the front foundation wall.

The image on the right is the corner in that same room, some 12' away.

Being that far from the wall and still showing moisture means that there is a lot behind the wall.

Those little spots on the carpet are the cat's footprints.  He came to investigate the red light (the camera's laser beam so I can better see where I am looking) as it shined on the wall.  His warm feet made a temperature impression on the carpet.  That is very indicative of how sensitive the camera is!  It measures temperature differences in terms of 1/10 a degree Fahrenheit.  And I shooed him away immediately!

SO, WHAT STARTS OUTSIDE ENDS UP INSIDE.

The re-grading of the front yard is essential to the elimination of the water inside.  The indoor moisture levels, and associated problems with microbial growth, cannot be eliminated until the water collecting around the foundation walls is removed.

Is this grading a problem?  YES!  We can't see the foundation wall's condition or how much moisture is behind the drywall.  But there is a lot there!  So, as I said, when this house gets a better grade, I'll give it a better grade.

My recommendation:  when you pull up to a house, see how it is positioned relative to the street, driveway and neighbors, and the general grading around the house.  Is water diverted toward or trapped near the house?  If the slope is toward the house or away from the house, that will help determine the comfort and healthful nature of the environment inside!

 

 

 

Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC  

Based in Bristow, serving all of Northern Virginia.

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

www.jaymarinspect.com


Comment balloon 23 commentsJay Markanich • October 21 2011 06:11AM

Comments

Is the old saying true water, water everywhere...  Sad though keep us up to date on the outcome

Posted by James Dray, Exceptional Agents, Outstanding Results (Fathom Realty AR LLC) almost 7 years ago

Hi Jay,  Boy is that true.  I had a custom built home in MD and the grading (lack of) made it a nightmare.

Posted by Bob Miller, The Ocala Dream Team (Keller Williams Cornerstone Realty) almost 7 years ago

Jay, Poor grading is something we see on a regular basis, but something typically no one wants to do anything about.  Fortunately we rarely see it quite as bad as this example.

Posted by Liz and Bill Spear, RE/MAX Elite Warren County OH (Cincinnati/Dayton) (RE/MAX Elite 513.520.5305 www.LizTour.com) almost 7 years ago

Good morning, Jay. Living in our "PC" world, folks like to use the word mildew because it doesn't sound so damning. Mildew is mold but what the heck...

Posted by Michael Thornton, Nashville Area - Photography & Videography (RadnorLake Video) almost 7 years ago

James - I will probably never hear!  Unless the people end up buying the house and the problems continue after "repairs..."

Bob - grading should be a part of the report card buyers use to rank houses when they buy them.

It's hard post facto to do anything about it Bliz!  Especially on a house like this, over 50 years old.

Michael - I get it, but still, it's a misnomer.  When the moldie is oldie, I think that's mildew.

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) almost 7 years ago

Squishy....a technical term I have used for years....let's hope this house studies hard and upgrades it's slopes to earn a passing grade from the Supreme Inspector !

Posted by Sally K. & David L. Hanson, WI Realtors - Luxury - Divorce (EXP Realty 414-525-0563) almost 7 years ago

S&D - I don't know if a seller would be willing to go the whole route of regrading everything this yard would need.  Very expensive to say the least.  Maybe the next inspector won't have a camera to show his clients what's going on!

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) almost 7 years ago

A few months ago I purchased a home to flip. The property was really priced right, the drawback was that the basement was wet. Very seldom do I see a property, that the ground is graded toward the house and there were no gutters.

I spent $2,800 to regrade the round, put gutter on and to be safe, put in a sump pump. Magic, no more water.

Posted by Joe Petrowsky, Your Mortgage Consultant for Life (Mortgage Consultant, Right Trac Financial Group, Inc. NMLS # 2709) almost 7 years ago

Joe - some houses are conducive to sump pumps.  This one is not.  However, getting the water away from the house is the answer.  A sump pump is back up, as you suggest.

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) almost 7 years ago

Jay, I love that camera and the story it can tell. It's almost like the ones the TSA uses, only reveals things in a different way. I really appreciate your posts and what I learn from them. Even after 23 years in this business I'm constantly learning new things, that's why I love it so much. Have a great weekend!

Posted by Michael S. Bolton, MN Appraiser (Michael S. Bolton,Inc.) almost 7 years ago

Actually, Michael, it doesn't see like the TSA thingee.

My understanding of the TSA thing is that it SEES you!

Here is what a person looks like!

I always take an image of the clients and send it to them.

They think that is very fun...!

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) almost 7 years ago

Great advice Jay, and something I have shared with clients for years... even if a home is "dry" at the moment, you can often tell if there might be an issue in the future by looking at how the home sits on the lot and the neighbouring grading.

Posted by Chris Smith, South Simcoe, Caledon, King, Orangeville Real Esta (Re/Max Chay Realty Inc., Brokerage) almost 7 years ago

Chris - and it's best to deal with that BEFORE it becomes a problem!

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) almost 7 years ago

Jay, Water can be a problem in and at EVERY home. People need to realize that one of the best times to do an inspection is during or after rain.

Hire a professioal with all the right tools and credentials like your self.........a Professional

Enjoy the day

p.s. can you do ultrasounds with that thing ?

Posted by Don MacLean, Realtor - Homes For Sale - Franklin MA (Simolari & MacLean REMAX EXECUTIVE REALTY) almost 7 years ago

Thanks Don.  This was on a morning during a rain that had been happening for two days!  Perfect timing.

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) almost 7 years ago

I prefer my cereal in a bowl, not my house. 

Posted by James Quarello, Connecticut Home Inspector (JRV Home Inspection Services, LLC) almost 7 years ago

Except for the rear corner of one side of the back yard, Jim, this yard would have been a great bowl for the Jolly Green Giant's cereal!

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) almost 7 years ago

GEEZ!  I saw that grading problem in the photo immediately.  Sadly, there are many examples in communities with small lots where mounding wasn't an option.   A retaining wall between those two lots might have helped. 

I wouldn't want to sell that home and if the owner "disclosed" that there has been no water in the basement, I wouldn't believe them. 

Then again, I give Disclosure Statements no credence whatsoever.

 

Posted by Lenn Harley, Real Estate Broker - Virginia & Maryland (Lenn Harley, Homefinders.com, MD & VA Homes and Real Estate) almost 7 years ago

This is in Arlington, Lenn.  Right on Williamsburg.  You know how so many houses there are below the road, and are in bowls!

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) almost 7 years ago

Jay.  I know the area well.  I once owned a home in that area.  Small city lots. 

Posted by Lenn Harley, Real Estate Broker - Virginia & Maryland (Lenn Harley, Homefinders.com, MD & VA Homes and Real Estate) almost 7 years ago

Yes, and they all drain consecutively to the guy on the end!

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) almost 7 years ago

Jay -- any way that a French drain around the house might be of assistance?  That might be the place for a pump.

Posted by Steven Cook (No Longer Processing Mortgages.) almost 7 years ago

Steven - that may be the only solution, given the road in front and slope of the front yard.  Water needs a way to go.

Can we call it a Freedom drain?

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) almost 7 years ago

This blog does not allow anonymous comments