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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
So I just purchased my first house in Santa Barbara, CA but it needs a little work (built in 1920s). I have been tackling the interior but the grading is bothering me. The yard overall is pretty level but there are several spots around the house where there is soil to wood contact on the siding. Since termites are an issue not to mention other problems I basically dug a small trench to prevent any infestations for now. Luckily it does not rain too much but I am going to need to fix the grading issue since now there is just a trench that will soak up all the water. The foundation is raised with a crawl space. Any suggestions on draining? It would be a big project to try to remove enough soil to get proper grading but this might be my only option. I have heard about a french drain would this work? It seems like you need a place to drain the water though?

I attached a picture. You can see the wood siding was starting to rot. Unfortunately I cannot just remove some of the siding and grade by adding soil because the siding ends right where the foundation starts so there is no overlapping.

Any suggestions would be great:(
 

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Your foundation is that low? By the picture it looks like a basement window and a vent coming out higher. What is behind the siding on the bottom say 16" or 2'
 

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I once worked on a house with that funky flared bottom. If I remember well, behind the flare were wood posts and a dirt floor, with an access trap door that looked like what Maeling thinks is a basement window.

The question is not what to do, but how much time and money you want to spend. At the very least I would dig out a 3-foot-wide path around the house 6 inches below the first row of siding and throw some gravel on it, with some border on the side along the dirt.
 

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flipping slumlord
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connor016 said:
]Unfortunately I cannot just remove some of the siding and grade by adding soil because the siding ends right where the foundation starts so there is no overlapping.
Wrong direction.

...dig out a 3-foot-wide path around the house 6 inches below the first row of siding and throw some gravel on it...
^^This. Your grade is too high.
 

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JOATMON
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Your foundation is that low? By the picture it looks like a basement window and a vent coming out higher. What is behind the siding on the bottom say 16" or 2'
That is most likely the access to his crawl space.....

conner....do a search on French Drain. You will find a lot of info here as well as Google.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Yes that screen is ventilation to the crawl space.

So for the problem areas I could get away with digging 6" below the siding out about 3' and then put in a couple inches of gravel? To me it seems like this might be a trench to hold water but I am far from an expert in this area. The good thing is it doesn't rain much here in Santa Barbara so it might be just the fix I am looking for.
 

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flipping slumlord
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So for the problem areas I could get away with digging 6" below the siding out about 3' and then put in a couple inches of gravel?
Yes. Very roughly drawn:

|--------------------------------- <---existing soilgrade
|--------------------------------- <-- proposed gravel grade
|-----------------------\__ /-- <-- proposed (soil) grade

To me it seems like this might be a trench to hold water...
Yep. That's why you include your own trench; the "french drain" trough.
---

I love SB; even the old neighborhoods with these old shacks in them.
Your place looks like next door to the place on lower De La Vina my son recently had.
 

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Your right by making a trench and adding stone will just make a place for water to build up and get under the foundation and end up in the crawl space.
If that foundation really flaired or is it tipping?
A french drain flowing into a sump for the foundation drain and another at least 3" drain to connect rain gutter down spouts into set in the same trench will work.
Is there a ditch or swale you water could be pumped to. If not a pit can be dug and back filled with stone to drain the french drain and the down spout drain into.
I would pull some of the siding off to see how far it comes down over the foundation. It really only needs to be enough to stop air from getting in between the foundation and the bottom plate.
 

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Don't know about the west coast for sure, but around here (Climate Zone 5A) code requires:

1) A minimum 5% slope away from the structure for the first 5 feet.
2) Any soils that retain water shall be at least 8" below any wood
3) All downspouts shall discharge no closer than 5'-0' from the foundation face.
 

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Yes that screen is ventilation to the crawl space.

To me it seems like this might be a trench to hold water but I am far from an expert in this area.
That would soak up all but the heaviest rain. To keep that path from turning occasionally into a big puddle you would need a French drain and several dry wells. There's more elaborate (and expensive) solutions; keep in mind that I said "at least you need".
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
Great thanks for all the advice so far....so I think I am getting closer to a solution without having to regrade the entire yard. I am thinking a french drain going to a dry well if needed like many of you have suggested. Made a rough drawing of what I am thinking so far with my current grading. Another thing to help would be to finally put gutters on the house!

The good thing is the crawl space seems very dry, but I will see if it is a problem this weekend since we are expecting some rain.
 

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flipping slumlord
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Made a rough drawing of what I am thinking so far with my current grading. Another thing to help would be to finally put gutters on the house!
And downspouts. Also consider whats happening with your neighbor.

As those houses are pretty close together... what your neighbor is doing (or not) plays at least as much role as your own conditions. That grading and french drain work is often done together because of this.
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
Yes, since we don't get much rain do you think a simple french drain like my drawing would work but without the pipe, rather just a trench and no drywell? I am thinking with the gutters and downspouts and a simple french drain it might be enough. We had some rain this weekend and just with the overhang and no grading it was still dry by the foundation.
 

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flipping slumlord
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...since we don't get much rain...
But when you *do* get rain... your monthly amount is comparable
or even more than what happens in the rest of the country.

SB can get a lot of water. Rainfall data <-- check out the Dec-Mar numbers
Your design has to accommodate the known expectations.

How far are you from the house next door? Where is their rain water runoff going?

do you think a simple french drain like my drawing would work
but without the pipe, rather just a trench and no drywell?
Probably not (and without the pipe it isn't a french drain).

The drywell might be avoided if the drain pipe can be "run to daylight" where it won't collect or do damage (maybe the street?). Try that if the City says you can.

I am thinking with the gutters and downspouts and a simple french drain it might be enough...
Done right... it might.
 
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