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Old 04-23-2013, 08:30 AM   #1
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Bought a house, backyard has slight slope towards the house


Hi all,

My first post here...probably the first of many, new home owner. My wife and I are expecting our first child so we went and bought a house in the suburbs. It's large, but needs a bit of work so we can slowly grow into it.

We had our home inspection and the inspector told us the backyard has a slight slope towards the house and we would want to remedy that as soon as possible to avoid any water damage to the foundation and floods in the basement. The slope is barely noticeable and the house was built in 1989...the foundation has very minor cracking which the inspector says is completely normal and has probably been that way for about 20 years. No signs of leaking in the basement at all.

I noticed the basement windows have window wells, which would probably suggest the house has weeping tiles. The windows also have covers on them.

My question is, how difficult would it be for me to fix the slope myself? And how urgently would you think it needs to be done? I've watched enough Mike Holmes to know it's a priority, but given that the house is over 20 years old and is showing no signs of water issues, would simply building a slight slope out 10 feet or so from the house suffice?

Thank you!

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Old 04-23-2013, 11:34 AM   #2
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Bought a house, backyard has slight slope towards the house


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I've watched enough Mike Holmes to know it's a priority, ...
Sorry I can't really add any value to the thread, but thumbs up for this!

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Old 04-23-2013, 12:07 PM   #3
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Bought a house, backyard has slight slope towards the house


Had similar issues. Thought it wouldn't be a big deal. I'm now 3 months and $4,500 in correcting the situation:
Backyard Retaining Wall Build
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Old 04-23-2013, 12:25 PM   #4
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Bought a house, backyard has slight slope towards the house


Yikes! I don't think mine is going to be to that scale...it's a smaller yard than yours for sure. I'm actually wondering if I can just take some of the dirt from the back of the yard and relocate it closer to the house...in effect sloping the yard the opposite way.

You look like you did a great job with the retaining wall and based on what I've read, a French drain would work really well on the slope you've created...those things are pricey though!
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Old 04-23-2013, 12:31 PM   #5
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Bought a house, backyard has slight slope towards the house


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I'm actually wondering if I can just take some of the dirt from the back of the yard and relocate it closer to the house...in effect sloping the yard the opposite way.
That would be my first choice. How about posting some pictures so we can see what you're dealing with.

Welcome to the forum btw.
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Old 04-23-2013, 12:36 PM   #6
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Bought a house, backyard has slight slope towards the house


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That would be my first choice. How about posting some pictures so we can see what you're dealing with.

Welcome to the forum btw.
Thanks!

Unfortunately all I've got are the pics from the MLS listing, but it should give you a general sense of what I'm working with:
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Bought a house, backyard has slight slope towards the house-h310420319.jpg   Bought a house, backyard has slight slope towards the house-205397619.jpg  
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Old 04-23-2013, 12:36 PM   #7
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Bought a house, backyard has slight slope towards the house


A lot of times covers are on the window wells because the wells aren't connected to weeping tile.
also, most times, the siding is already too close to the ground and you will need to change the slope by removing dirt, rather than adding it by the house.
Pictures would help, because without them, we are just best guessing.
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Old 04-23-2013, 01:09 PM   #8
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Bought a house, backyard has slight slope towards the house


First, it's hard to tell slopes from photos, but I don't see a Major drainage issue there. I would likely try adding some mounded flower beds or similar along the house to help address it.
If you take dirt from back by the fence to add near the house, first think about where your water would go from there. You'll end-up creating a standing water area if its the lowest spot on all sides.

And from WAY out in left field: I built a bench/railing on my deck exactly like that one with those same plastic brackets. The brackets worked just fine, but the hardware that came with them was just Zinc-coated stuff not galvanized or otherwise coated for exterior use and it was certainly not okay to use in pressure treated lumber. Translation= check the bolts, lag screws and screws holding that bench in place to make sure they aren't all rusting away. Swapping out the hardware is no big deal.
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Old 04-23-2013, 01:12 PM   #9
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Bought a house, backyard has slight slope towards the house


Thanks, that's relieving to hear...so it shouldn't be a huge expense to fix this, hopefully!

Thanks for the tip on the deck. Whoever built it didn't do a great job. Wood touching soil, railing isn't up to code, etc. Have some work to do there but at least it isn't mission critical in comparison to the grading and the kitchen I have to gut.
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Old 04-23-2013, 02:32 PM   #10
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Bought a house, backyard has slight slope towards the house


As mentioned it's hard to tell from those pictures.

The "important" thing is with whatever you do that there's at least 6" from grade to the bottom of the siding or any wood.
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Old 04-23-2013, 08:31 PM   #11
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Bought a house, backyard has slight slope towards the house


i can see the slope = look at the fence on the side, it steps down.

if you add dirt to the back of the house, that would probably help. but, you have to be aware that the water needs somewhere to go. and your neighbors yards are NOT that place. if i see correctly, behind that deck bench, there is a slight ditch there. aim your water to that, and then aim that, if it isn't already, to the street.

is that a shed or garage ?
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Old 04-23-2013, 08:36 PM   #12
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i can see the slope = look at the fence on the side, it steps down.

if you add dirt to the back of the house, that would probably help. but, you have to be aware that the water needs somewhere to go. and your neighbors yards are NOT that place. if i see correctly, behind that deck bench, there is a slight ditch there. aim your water to that, and then aim that, if it isn't already, to the street.

is that a shed or garage ?
That's a shed.

I will see if I can aim for that ditch. I take possession if the house in June so it'll be much easier to see what works then!
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Old 04-23-2013, 08:45 PM   #13
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Bought a house, backyard has slight slope towards the house


Hi Mark,
Big congrats on the purchase of your new home. It looks great. Welcome to what I call "sweat equity training".
The slope is noticeable and it is possible that the water makes it all the way to your back wall but does not enter (yet). It is not a good idea to bring surface drainage to the side of your dwelling. It could cause erosion, leaks, excessive settlement, and damage to the exterior surface. The damage could be cosmetic but don't rule out structural damage if you leave it for long. This is why your inspector suggested you remedy this sooner rather than later.
The idea is to keep the soil 6" below non-cementitious foundation wall. The idea of removing dirt from the back and stacking it to the front might raise the area near your dwelling too high to maintain that 6" clearance but here's an idea:
You don;t need to shed the water to the back, just not towards the house. If you simply grade an area about 5' away from the back wall of your home to be lower than both sides and then grade it to drain to either side yard, the water will not reach your home and the problem will be diverted.
Additional items you can add to the surface drainage would be a french drain system, a perforated pipe, a deeper gravel pit to drain excessive rain fall/snow melt. You can also design & build a concrete walk/patio from your home towards the back. Keep it shedding toward the back but at least 3" above the finish grade when you terminate the concrete improvement. This will "dam" the water at the concrete edge of the walk/patio and also keep the water away from your home.
These ideas will not require a complete regrading of your back yard.
Hope this helps,

InspectorZo

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Originally Posted by markx83 View Post
Hi all,

My first post here...probably the first of many, new home owner. My wife and I are expecting our first child so we went and bought a house in the suburbs. It's large, but needs a bit of work so we can slowly grow into it.

We had our home inspection and the inspector told us the backyard has a slight slope towards the house and we would want to remedy that as soon as possible to avoid any water damage to the foundation and floods in the basement. The slope is barely noticeable and the house was built in 1989...the foundation has very minor cracking which the inspector says is completely normal and has probably been that way for about 20 years. No signs of leaking in the basement at all.

I noticed the basement windows have window wells, which would probably suggest the house has weeping tiles. The windows also have covers on them.

My question is, how difficult would it be for me to fix the slope myself? And how urgently would you think it needs to be done? I've watched enough Mike Holmes to know it's a priority, but given that the house is over 20 years old and is showing no signs of water issues, would simply building a slight slope out 10 feet or so from the house suffice?

Thank you!
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Old 04-23-2013, 09:11 PM   #14
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Bought a house, backyard has slight slope towards the house


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Hi Mark,
Big congrats on the purchase of your new home. It looks great. Welcome to what I call "sweat equity training".
The slope is noticeable and it is possible that the water makes it all the way to your back wall but does not enter (yet). It is not a good idea to bring surface drainage to the side of your dwelling. It could cause erosion, leaks, excessive settlement, and damage to the exterior surface. The damage could be cosmetic but don't rule out structural damage if you leave it for long. This is why your inspector suggested you remedy this sooner rather than later.
The idea is to keep the soil 6" below non-cementitious foundation wall. The idea of removing dirt from the back and stacking it to the front might raise the area near your dwelling too high to maintain that 6" clearance but here's an idea:
You don;t need to shed the water to the back, just not towards the house. If you simply grade an area about 5' away from the back wall of your home to be lower than both sides and then grade it to drain to either side yard, the water will not reach your home and the problem will be diverted.
Additional items you can add to the surface drainage would be a french drain system, a perforated pipe, a deeper gravel pit to drain excessive rain fall/snow melt. You can also design & build a concrete walk/patio from your home towards the back. Keep it shedding toward the back but at least 3" above the finish grade when you terminate the concrete improvement. This will "dam" the water at the concrete edge of the walk/patio and also keep the water away from your home.
These ideas will not require a complete regrading of your back yard.
Hope this helps,

InspectorZo
Very insightful, thank you! That sounds simple to do which is always a welcome quality in a project.
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Old 04-24-2013, 05:52 AM   #15
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Bought a house, backyard has slight slope towards the house


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