What I'm Seeing Now

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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

www.jaymarinspect.com


Comment balloon 45 commentsJay Markanich • January 30 2013 03:31AM

Comments

Morning Jay that is some serious damage sir.  The cost to repair that is going to be something I'll bet ya.  thanks for the post sir have a great day.

Posted by James Dray, Exceptional Agents, Outstanding Results (Fathom Realty AR LLC) over 5 years ago
Jay, great post, and a strong reminder that issues unseen by the buyer can be a serious issue that can build into a major issue later on.
Posted by Sandy Padula and Norm Padula, JD, GRI, Presence, Persistence & Perseverance (Realty National) over 5 years ago

Soil, grass and an extended downspout James.  And it has to be done.

Norman - this is a serious issue now!  That vapor retarder has been poorly placed for some time too.

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) over 5 years ago

Jay, Grading is very important and your detailed explanation will help buyers/seller to prevent Water from being the  Killer of the home over time.

Posted by Bob Ratliff, "Sold on Bob" (CB Stagecoach ~ Broker Associate) over 5 years ago

Grathiath Bob.  We don't often have the benefit of seeing such a dramatic result.  This opportunity affords it!

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) over 5 years ago

"when the home inspector suggests better grading". . . .

It's time to move on.

Posted by Lenn Harley, Real Estate Broker - Virginia & Maryland (Lenn Harley, Homefinders.com, MD & VA Homes and Real Estate) over 5 years ago

Not a bad analysis Lenn, but, as you know, I don't get involved with telling people whether or not to buy a house.  I have swayed a few young couples away from houses with the silent head shake though!  But I didn't say anything!

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) over 5 years ago

I'm having a dead Dogwood tree replaced and my landscaper advised me yesterday that my downspouts have been pouring too much rainwater to the dead tree which is why it is a DEAD TREE....need to REdirect my gutter run off  * YUK!

Posted by Wallace S. Gibson, CPM, LandlordWhisperer (Gibson Management Group, Ltd.) over 5 years ago

That's it Wallace!  I'm turning you in!  You know that Dogwood is the Virginia state tree!

https://www.google.com/search?sourceid=navclient&hl=en&q=virginia+state+tree

Oh, the shame you must feel now.

 

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) over 5 years ago

Holy Moly.... or moldy I should say! I hope you were wearing your PPE!! It never stops, gutters, then downspouts, then splash stones, then grading. Water, our most precious resource. Right?

Posted by Fred Hernden, CMI, Albuquerque area Master Inspector (Superior Home Inspections - Greater Albuquerque Area) over 5 years ago
Try to cite this chapter and verse to homeowners so they understand water is not your homes friend.
Posted by Cindy Jones, Pentagon, Fort Belvoir & Quantico Real Estate News (Integrity Real Estate Group) over 5 years ago

Good gosh Fred!  If I am wearing the vaunted PPE how can I taste that stuff to make sure it's what I think it is?!  Huh!  Go ahead, answer me that!

Boy, you people sometimes really rile me up!

Oh, as you know, it tastes like chicken.

PPE, sheesh...

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) over 5 years ago

P.s.  Give me a freaking break, you rabble rouser.

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) over 5 years ago

It can be Cindy, in a nice bubbly bath!  But alas, front yards aren't known for that.

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) over 5 years ago

Hi Jay,

OH BOY,

Were anyone in the home sick from all the mold in the air?

That is one terrible looking crawl space.

I hope they can get this rectified and quickly.

Have a great day in Bristow.

Best, Clint McKie

Posted by Clint Mckie, Desert Sun Home, Comm. Inspection 1-575-706-5586 (Desert Sun Home, commercial Inspections) over 5 years ago

Vacant house Clint.  Maybe they all died from lung diseases...?  Kidding.

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) over 5 years ago

Block foundation walls aren't ideal either. Of course with good drainage they should not seep. 

Posted by James Quarello, Connecticut Home Inspector (JRV Home Inspection Services, LLC) over 5 years ago

Yeah, but contrary to Fred's point, Jim, they are tasty.

That was a yucky crawl space in more ways than one!

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) over 5 years ago

Jay, if there is moisture there is going to be mold as evidenced by the photo. It doesn't look good.

Posted by Michael Setunsky, Your Commercial Real Estate Link to Northern VA over 5 years ago

  A consistent thing we ALWAYS see on inspection reports is grading...most homeowners do not get a passing grade !

Posted by Sally K. & David L. Hanson, WI Realtors - Luxury - Divorce (EXP Realty 414-525-0563) over 5 years ago

Heeeey, I never said that it wasn't tasty! Does it really taste like chicken? I just don't know how you got enough traction to get outta there! Of course, if you were wearing the correct PPE...

And... what's a rabble?

Posted by Fred Hernden, CMI, Albuquerque area Master Inspector (Superior Home Inspections - Greater Albuquerque Area) over 5 years ago

It's amazing how such a seemingly small amount of slope can make a significant difference. I always hear inspectors advising buyers regarding grading.

Posted by Olga Simoncelli, CONSULTANT, Real Estate Services & Risk Management (Veritas Prime, LLC dba Veritas Prime Real Estate) over 5 years ago

It isn't Mike.  And that is truly what happens over time.

S&D - I put a mention of grading on my reports even when there isn't a problem so it is in the buyer's mind.

Fred - once at a get together I made that joke and someone pulled me aside later and asked me how I knew it tasted like chicken!  I said, "You are a very literal fellow, aren't you!"

From Oxford - rabble 1. disorderly crowd, 2.  ordinary people regarded as socially inferior or uncouth.

Like me!

There is a reason for that Olga!  Fortunately I could document one here with this photo.

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) over 5 years ago

Thank you for a good reminder about grading. Water is a killer to a home & grading is super important. This is a good reminder for me.  Jim

Posted by Jimmy Faulkner, The Best Of St. Augustine (Florida. Homes Realty & Mortgage) over 5 years ago

I recently went on a listing appointment where the owner had removed the downspout extender because he did not like how it looked. And there was a nice hole at the foundation wall where the water had been eroding the soil. 

Posted by Kathryn Maguire, Serving Chesapeake, Norfolk, VA Beach (GreatNorfolkHomes.com (757) 560-0881) over 5 years ago

You're welcome Jimmy.  This is a frequent thing on home inspections.

Kathryn - I have seen that hole 8' deep!

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) over 5 years ago

Jay, another thing that I caution buyers about is that sometimes what looks like a good slope at the exterior merely conceals a drainage plain under the surface that is functionally draining water at the foundation.

Posted by Charles Buell, Seattle Home Inspector (Charles Buell Inspections Inc.) over 5 years ago

I had a home at one time that had a similar problem. Had to put in a French Drain to redirect the water. But, it fixed the problem.

Posted by Gary Burleson, Myrtle Beach Homes, Condos, Foreclosures, Investment Propery (Beach Water Realty - www.beachwaterrealty.com) over 5 years ago

Yeah, Charlie, but hard to know and inspect.  Unless there is evidence inside I wouldn't bring that up unless there was a specific question.

Gary - those work, if they have a place to send the water.

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) over 5 years ago

Jay I had this come-up recently and all our attention to remedy was diverted to this. The enemy has been sighted

Posted by Richie Alan Naggar, agent & author (people first...then business Ran Right Realty ) over 5 years ago

But wait Jay, isn't a concrete wall supposed to be water proof? How can water get through a water proof concrete wall? I am so confused, said most homebuyers.

Posted by Scott Seaton Jr. Bourbonnais Kankakee IL Home Inspector, The Home Inspector With a Heart! (SLS Home Inspections-Bradley Bourbonnais Kankakee Manteno) over 5 years ago

You see a problem. I see mountains at sunset.

Posted by Rob Ernst, Reno, NV-775-410-4286 Inspector & Energy Auditor (Certified Structure Inspector) over 5 years ago

Hi Jay,  great post...thanks for sharing with us in ActiveRainLand.

Posted by Ronald DiLalla, No. Orange Cty Real Estate (Century 21 Discovery DRE 01813824) over 5 years ago

It has been nice a wet in there for a long time, especially if you are going through a dry spell and it is that dark.

Posted by Than Maynard, Broker - Licensed to List & Sell - 405-990-8862 (Coldwell Banker Heart of Oklahoma) over 5 years ago

Jay -- it is amazing what the universal solvent is capable of doing, given some opportunity!

Posted by Steven Cook (No Longer Processing Mortgages.) over 5 years ago

Great Post Jay-- Simply amazing what can happen over time and really go un-noticed.. Thanks for taking time to share, I think I will go crawl under my home now....

Posted by Robert Hicks (United Country River City Realty) over 5 years ago

Jay, That dang water, it can make a straight stick crooked ; )

Posted by Donald Hester, NCW Home Inspections, LLC (NCW Home Inspections, LLC) over 5 years ago

Richie - you had no choice but to remedy!

Scott - I can't understand it myself!  Gee, the horror, the horror...

Ever the optimist Rob!  And dem's some beeeertiful mountains!

I'm very glad you enjoyed it Ronald!

Than - 'tis true.  The whole place was soaked.  Not good.

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) over 5 years ago

Steven - I have heard, but don't know cause I haven't seen it, that water can cut a huge gorge into mountains and plains!

Robert - photos!  We want photos!

Don - sure made me feel crooked for a while!  And I am one straight stick!

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) over 5 years ago

Cool photo serves as a graphic reminder.  Thanks for sharing this!

Posted by Scott Nowling, Prudential Starck (Prudential Starck) over 5 years ago

It's both of those things Scott!  And you're welcome.

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) over 5 years ago

North Carolina Building Code requires positive grade for 4' from the foundation

Posted by Martha Free, Davidson-Lake Norman (Lake Realty of Charlotte-Lake Norman NC) over 5 years ago

Martha - every code does, but things will settle over time.  Even if the local codes do not enforce it, Mother Nature will!

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) over 5 years ago

Hi Jay, the picture is worth a thousand words.  Glad you spend the time to evaluate carefully with your clients.  Homeowners need to understand what they're doing to themselves if they don't pay attention.

Posted by Michael Dagner, Your Denver Homes Realty Expert (Brokers Guild Classic) over 5 years ago

Thanks Michael.  You are right, of course!

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) over 5 years ago

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