Lot Grading- Easy Improvements to Avoid Failure

Many times during my home inspections a defect hasn’t yet taken place but items that can lead to major defects are identified and should be taken serious for the future homeowner’s maintenance of their property. Spring is coming and with that our most wet season in Northern Colorado. I regularly tell buyers that the number one thing they can do for their home is route water away from it.

Negative or neutral lot grading is a common concern and even though in itself it’s not a defect it may bring unwanted moisture in your basement/crawlspace or even worse, structural failure by causing excessive weight in the soil that surrounds your foundation. Your home should ideally be built up where compacted soil sheds water away from your home and its foundation. Older neighborhoods (1960s and earlier), were commonly built on flat sites without any slope at all. Hillside built homes of course will have negative grading towards one side of the house. Even newly constructed properties are found to have vulnerable areas.

In general, the ground should slope away from the home a minimum of 1/4-inch per foot for a distance of at least six feet from the foundation. Proper downspout extensions should also be provided to divert roof drainage as far from the home as possible.

This spring, walk around your home to identify any areas that might have vulnerable lot grading. Compact soil in these areas to improve drainage. You should monitor where water drains during rain storms and make adjustments as necessary.