Thanks to Jay Markanich.
This is a great reminder to always watch the water - particularly at this time of year. In this area, water penetration can easily begin as snow falls and melts allowing water to build up and pool along the foundation.
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