Chris' Corner: Good grading makes a difference

Good grading makes a difference


Here is some great advice from Northern Virginia area Home Inspector, Jay Markanich, something I have shared with clients for years... even if a home is "dry" at the moment, you can foresee areas of concern and possible future issues by looking at how the home sits on the lot and inspecting nearby and the neighbouring grading.
Looking for a home in New Tecumseth? In the smally rural communities of Alliston, Beeton, Tottenham or Tecumseth Pines... Call me, Chris Smith, @ 1.866.936.3500 for assistance in finding a home that will serve you well, now and in the future..
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When this house gets a better grade, I'll give it a better grade. Why?  Because grading is everything! 


A bit hard to see from this picture, fully one half of this driveway, and all of the front sidewalk, drains water toward the house.  You can see that the front yard is below the driveway AND the street!

This front yard is a bowl.

There has been an attempt to divert water around the front of the house.

But is it working?

The front stoop is a squishy area.  The slate tiles move so much all the mortar is cracked or missing.

My weight alone moves every one of them as they rest on a soup of mud and water.  They were very poorly founded.

And they are inclined toward the house.

As I arrived water was pooling near the front step.

Washington gets about 35" of rainfall annually.  In the past two months we have gotten 14-17" depending on where you live.

That's a lot of water.  Is it affecting this house in a bowl?

There is a basic "mildew" smell in the basement.  It's really a mold smell, but everyone uses the word "mildew."

The image on the left is under the front stoop.

This is the last stair entering the basement.

This step and wall are about 1' from the front foundation wall.

The image on the right is the corner in that same room, some 12' away.

Being that far from the wall and still showing moisture means that there is a lot behind the wall.

Those little spots on the carpet are the cat's footprints.  He came to investigate the red light (the camera's laser beam so I can better see where I am looking) as it shined on the wall.  His warm feet made a temperature impression on the carpet.  That is very indicative of how sensitive the camera is!  It measures temperature differences in terms of 1/10 a degree Fahrenheit.  And I shooed him away immediately!


The re-grading of the front yard is essential to the elimination of the water inside.  The indoor moisture levels, and associated problems with microbial growth, cannot be eliminated until the water collecting around the foundation walls is removed.

Is this grading a problem?  YES!  We can't see the foundation wall's condition or how much moisture is behind the drywall.  But there is a lot there!  So, as I said, when this house gets a better grade, I'll give it a better grade.

My recommendation:  when you pull up to a house, see how it is positioned relative to the street, driveway and neighbors, and the general grading around the house.  Is water diverted toward or trapped near the house?  If the slope is toward the house or away from the house, that will help determine the comfort and healthful nature of the environment inside!




Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC

Based in Bristow, serving all of Northern Virginia

Chris Smith CSSBB
          Sales Representative

Interested in Buying or Selling Real Estate?

  ph: 1.866.936.3500

Chay Realty Inc.,

Comment balloon 0 commentsChris Smith • October 21 2011 01:28PM