The Importance of Maintaining Proper Grading Around the Foundation of Your Home
As a result of (common) backfilling practices that most home builders incorporate, the lot grading around the perimeter of the concrete foundation (Grading Around House) will settle (sink) over time. This is one of the reasons why we (as a landscaping contractor) are unable to provide any warranties with Patios or Sidewalks that are built in close proximity to the foundation walls. Read on for more information about grading problems (grading yard for drainage) and how our yard grading services can help!
Here is one example of a client that was experiencing consistent water problems in their basement:
They purchased a $1.2 Million Dollar home in Edmonton that was only 4 years old. In the space of just “one” year, their basement had flooded “four” times. They contracted us to assess and rectify the problem. The first thing we did (and always do) was to “survey” the lot in order to verify where potential grading deficiencies existed. After we did this we came to the conclusion that they were experiencing problems with water entering their basement for “two” primary reasons. 1. Their neighbour’s sump pump discharge hose was directing water onto their property. 2. A “Builder Installed Window Well” had not been installed correctly and surface runoff water was finding its way underneath the Window Well. During heavy rainfall the ground around this particular area of the home would become “Super Saturated”. As a result, the ground could not absorb any more moisture, so the water level would rise and it would find its way through the sliding window and into the basement. We rectified the “Grading” and “Window Well” deficiencies… and their basement has been dry ever since!
Common Drainage Problems Associated with Newly Built Homes
The reason the ground around the perimeter of the foundation is subject to settling (sinking), is very “little” or “zero” effort is applied to ensuring the backfill material is compacted when it is used to fill the cavity that was created in order to construct the foundation. Instead, most home builders elect to hire “Mother Nature” and let her take care of this process for them.
Why do they do poor grading around house?
Because it’s “cheaper” and it “saves time”. It’s really that simple! The problem with this practice… it’s a slow process and is only accelerated with the aid of moisture that is introduced into the ground by rainfall and the melting of snow and ice in the spring.
Depending on the time of year the backfilling is performed, the ground around the perimeter and close to the foundation may be subject to even more “severe” settling. This is more evident when the backfilling is completed during “sub-zero” temperatures.
Why is temperature important to lot grading?
When the foundation is excavated the native soil (clay) is typically moist or even wet. It is piled and stored above grade until such time the basement walls have been poured and the forms have been removed. After the concrete has had sufficient time to cure, the backfill material that was stored above ground is used to fill the cavity between the basement wall and the undisturbed ground. The problem with this practice and especially during the winter months, is the (moist and wet) material that was excavated and stored above ground a number of weeks ago, has frozen! The practice of utilizing “frozen” backfill material creates even more problems with future settling, as it has numerous “annular spaces” and “air pockets” in-between the frozen lumps of clay. When the frozen material eventually (and it will take some time) thaws, it compresses together, resulting in the settling (sinking) of the ground above. As a result of the “settling” of the soil, it will start to create a “negative” grade situation.
What do we mean by negative grade?
Instead of surface runoff water being driven “away” from the foundation, it will now be driven “towards” the foundation. On newer built homes, the water will find its way down to the “Weeping Tile System” and into the “Sump”. When the water level rises to a pre-set level in the sump, the pump kicks in and water is pumped out. If the sump pump hose is long enough and positioned correctly, the water will flow away from the property and into the storm water sewer system as intended. If the discharge hose is not long enough or positioned incorrectly, the water has the potential to flow back towards the foundation and into the Weeping Tile System… and the process is repeated all over again.
If the grading around the perimeter of the foundation is not rectified, the foundation of the house will continue to be subject to the build-up of excessive amounts of moisture. This typically occurs and is further “compounded” after the thawing of snow and ice and after heavy and prolonged periods of rain in the spring. The (dry) ground acts like a sponge and has the capability to absorb a certain amount of moisture, but if the ground becomes too wet it becomes “Super Saturated”. When this occurs the excessive moisture will start to have a “negative” effect on the foundation and walls. The build-up of excessive amounts of moisture will start to impose “Hydraulic Pressure” on the foundation walls. This process will compromise the concrete and may eventually lead to water entering the basement.
Excessive amounts of moisture in and around the perimeter of the foundation can also create other problems. As winter sets in the moisture freezes and turns to ice. As a result, this will impose additional (external) pressure on the foundation walls. As a result of the external pressure being applied to the concrete, (small) cracks will form. Moisture will enter these cracks during “Thawing” cycles and “Re-Freeze” when temperatures drop below zero. When this happens the concrete is further “compromised” as a result of the expansion of the cracks. This is not something that happens overnight, but if it is not rectified it will eventually lead to the (concrete) foundation being compromised and the potential for water to find its way into the basement.
Conclusion on lot grading:
If grading issues are addressed and addressed relatively quickly, you can avoid the risk of incurring water damage to your basement and the costs and inconveniences that go along with it.
I hope you found this article to be both educational and informative!
For landscaping in general, and for deck and patio planning, when we meet with clients to discuss their “OutdoorSpace” needs, we always start off by asking the following question… “How do you intend on using your OutdoorSpace”. This is a critical question that helps us understand how our clients intend on using their OutdoorSpace… BEFORE we head down the path of creating a landscape design.
We truly believe that our “Outdoor Space” is an extension of our “Indoor Space”. Let me put things into perspective for you. When you build a house you spend a lot of time and resources selecting or modifying a plan or design to suit your individual or family (lifestyle) needs. So why would you not do the same when creating a design for your OutdoorSpace?
Considerations for Your Deck & Patio
With this in mind, why don’t we start with a common (hardscape) Landscape feature such as a deck or patio. These types of features are typically one of the most expensive components of any landscaping project, so why wouldn’t you take the time to make sure you’re create something that is going to work for you?
All too often decks and patios are constructed with absolutely no thought or consideration for their intended use. For instance, do you plan on setting up a table and chairs for lunch or dinner, or are you are planning on using this Space to relax in some BIG FAT COMFY lounge chairs? What if you intend on introducing a nice fire table to keep you warm on those cool Edmonton summer evenings?
These are all things that need to be taken into careful consideration… BEFORE you create your design!
Whatever the intended use, you should also make sure you create adequate space to position the furniture the way you want it. There is nothing worse than purchasing the furniture you want, only to find out that it won’t work with the space you have created.
Maybe you plan on installing a gazebo after the deck or patio has been constructed?
These are all things that should be taken into consideration PRIOR to constructing these types of landscape features.
When we conduct Landscape Design Consultations with potential clients, we ALWAYS suggest that they consider the following before they decide on sizing a deck or patio.
- What is the intended use for the specific area?
- What does the footprint (layout and size) of the furniture look like?
- Are you are planning on installing a gazebo to cover the area?
Size of Your Deck & Patio
Once you have made the above decisions, you are now in a position to correctly size the deck or patio.
If I can put this into perspective for you. Let’s say you have a “size 12 foot”. Would you go out and purchase a pair of “size 8” shoes? I think you get the idea of where I am coming from!
These are the following steps I recommend you take, PRIOR to establishing the size of a deck or patio:
- Decide on the intended use for the space
- Select the type of furniture you intend on purchasing for the space
- Obtain measurements with everything positioned the way you intend and make sure you have provided yourself with enough space to sit comfortably, as well as navigate around the furniture. There is nothing more uncomfortable than being too close to a Fire Table, having your chair fall off the outer edge of a Patio or jammed up against the House or Deck railing!
- If you are planning on installing a gazebo to cover the furniture obtain the size of the structure
NOW… you are in a position to correctly size the Deck or Patio!
Don’t put the “Cart Before the Horse”, or in this case… Don’t construct the “Deck or Patio Before You Choose Your Furniture”.
We are pretty sure of one thing… if you follow the advice that we have offered, you will be glad that you did!
Should you have any questions or if you would like some help designing your own OutdoorSpace… We would love to help you with that! Contact us here.
We just kick-started our marketing for the 2017 landscaping season. We installed a 51′ x 7′ Vinyl Banner on the side of our Dry Van Trailer that is parked on the west side of the QE2 highway just south of the city limits. This should get us some attention!
We are already starting to book projects for the “2017 Landscaping Season”. Let OutdoorSpace help you realize your landscaping dreams!
We just completed some improvements to our website. We added a whole bunch of photos from projects that we completed this past summer. We also separated the photos into categories. Hope you like the “new look”
2016 was a busy and successful year for Outdoorspace and we are looking forward to helping more clients realize their landscaping dreams in 2017!
We have officially launched our new website!