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Thread: Drainage issue

  1. #1
    Joe Mathias's Avatar
    Joe Mathias Guest

    Unhappy Drainage issue

    Home is about 10 months old and I'm having a drainage problem on back side of house (North facing) that builder doesn't seem to want to fix. Attached picture shows mud that is taking over what was once newly planted sod. The house is a walkout and there is a small grade away from the house (though not much sun).


    Have had a couple people out and some recommend french drain systems and others are recommending extending gutter downspouts (currently just have splash blocks). Area still seems to stay wet for days after rain, could part of this be just water pockets coming out from the building process? Anyone have recommendations on best fix and any experiences getting the builder to pay for them?

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  2. #2
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    Default Re: Drainage issue

    Quote Originally Posted by Joe Mathias View Post

    water pockets coming out from the building process?
    .
    Sure Hope Not.
    .
    Was it Built At the Bottom of and Old waterfall ?
    .


    It Might have Choked Artie But it ain't gone'a choke Stymie! Our Gang " The Pooch " (1932)
    Billy J. Stephens HI Service Memphis TN.

  3. #3
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    Default Re: Drainage issue

    Joe,

    Poor drainage is a common complaint and problem.

    First thing is to do the easy things first - add a downspout extension and give it awhile to see if that area dries out.

    Keep the complaint open with the builder by having them do a test to see how much help the downspout extension will help, making sure to NOT accept this as a final repair before monitoring it over the next 12 month period (to go through rainy season, winter, spring, and summer again).

    If it works and solves the problem, good.

    If not, you still have that open on the warranty request.

    If the builder says if he puts in a downspout extension that will be his fix, then tell him to forget the downspout extension and bring workers and equipment back in to properly grade the yard for proper drainage - he should very quickly see the downspout extension as an inexpensive test which is well worth it.

    Jerry Peck, Construction / Litigation Consultant
    Construction Litigation Consultants, LLC ( www.ConstructionLitigationConsultants.com )
    www.AskCodeMan.com

  4. #4
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    Default Re: Drainage issue

    Here is A code reference, maybe not exactly what you have in your area, but it should give you an idea of what to expect.
    If the builder meets the code required grading, it will be very difficult to have water stand around long enough to be a problem. Underlining is mine. Oh, by the way it would not hurt to turn the splash block around and have it sloped to direct water away from the foundation.

    • Grade and drainage codes
    R401.3 Drainage. Surface drainage shall be diverted to a storm sewer conveyance or other approved point of collection so as to not create a hazard. Lots shall be graded so as to drain surface water away from foundation walls. The grade away from foundation walls shall fall a minimum of 6 inches within the first 10 feet.
    Exception: Where lot lines, walls, slopes or other physical barriers prohibit 6 inches of fall within 10 feet, drains or swales shall be provided to ensure drainage away from the structure.
    R404.1.6 Height above finished grade. Concrete and masonry foundation walls shall extend above the finished grade adjacent to the foundation at all points a minimum of 4 inches where masonry veneer is used and a minimum of 6 inches elsewhere



    Jim Luttrall
    www.MrInspector.net
    Plano, Texas

  5. #5
    A.D. Miller's Avatar
    A.D. Miller Guest

    Default Re: Drainage issue

    JM: Just as JL has noted above, St. Louis has adopted the 2003 IRC and your builder is obligated to comply with the drainage provisions therein. Extending the downspouts, may perhaps prove helpful to some extent, but is not required except in areas with expansive soils. St. Louis does not appear to have underlying expansive soils. Correcting the grading either through soil elevation alteration or mechanical means is required.


  6. #6
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    Default Re: Drainage issue

    Quote Originally Posted by Joe Mathias View Post
    there is a small grade away from the house (though not much sun).
    Quote Originally Posted by A.D. Miller View Post
    Correcting the grading either through soil elevation alteration or mechanical means is required.
    Depends.

    As Jim posted, the required slope is really not much "The grade away from foundation walls shall fall a minimum of 6 inches within the first 10 feet." and Joe stated there was a small grade away from the house.

    That is why I suggested trying the downspout extension first - because if that does not work AND *IF* the slope still meets minimum requirements ... the regrading STILL must be done as the code is only requiring a minimum slope to ATTEMPT TO achieve drainage, and if drainage requires a greater slope, so be it - the code has that covered with "Lots shall be graded so as to drain surface water away from foundation walls.", i.e., whatever it takes for the slope is what is required, with 6" in 10' being the minimum required.

    Jerry Peck, Construction / Litigation Consultant
    Construction Litigation Consultants, LLC ( www.ConstructionLitigationConsultants.com )
    www.AskCodeMan.com

  7. #7
    Ted Menelly's Avatar
    Ted Menelly Guest

    Default Re: Drainage issue

    Quote Originally Posted by Joe Mathias View Post
    Home is about 10 months old and I'm having a drainage problem on back side of house (North facing) that builder doesn't seem to want to fix. Attached picture shows mud that is taking over what was once newly planted sod. The house is a walkout and there is a small grade away from the house (though not much sun).


    Have had a couple people out and some recommend french drain systems and others are recommending extending gutter downspouts (currently just have splash blocks). Area still seems to stay wet for days after rain, could part of this be just water pockets coming out from the building process? Anyone have recommendations on best fix and any experiences getting the builder to pay for them?

    Almost, and I repeat, almost all builders have an account to deal with drainage issues. Unlike some I do not believe down sout extensions will do the job. I write up at least half of the new builds I inspect about drainage issues and inground/frnch drains. As the code states the water cannot be allowed to sit next to the foundation and must have a means to drain away. Staying wet for days equals a draiange problem. Standing water anywhere on the lot is a drainage problem. The builder must deal with it. You need an inspector to come to your home and evaluate the fact that there is standing water and a muck pit next to your foundation.

    I will state that never has a builder refused to correct drainage issues on any home I have inspected. The last one was in Irving Texas. They supposedly (and did) add 2 more suface drains to the property. The soil inbetween the new drains was still a mudd pit. They dug it all up and added proper perforated piping to drain the ground water away. Before all they had was standard PVC in the ground. I can give you a countless stroies of the same situation. Saturated soil will do nothing but rot the grass and turn it into a slab of soggy dirt and then when it dries nothing but a dry bare slab of dirt.


  8. #8
    Joe Mathias's Avatar
    Joe Mathias Guest

    Default Re: Drainage issue

    Thanks everyone for all the great responses. Jerry, I will try the downspout extension first and see if that helps. (That seems to be the easiest solution to try). If that does not work, it sounds like I should push the builder for improving the grade and/or adding some surface drains.

    Ted, when I first moved in (last November) I did have a home inspector do a thorough inspection and at the time he documented a recommendation to the builder to extend the downspouts. Builder has been pretty much giving me the runaround ever since. Hopefully pressing them on code will get them going!


  9. #9
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    Default Re: Drainage issue

    For god's sake.... turn the splash block around so the open end is away from the house


  10. #10

    Default Re: Drainage issue

    For god's sake.... turn the splash block around so the open end is away from the house
    It must take someone from OR to see the obvious (no, I don't think that will solve the problem though)


  11. #11
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    Default Re: Drainage issue

    Quote Originally Posted by Jim Luttrall View Post
    Oh, by the way it would not hurt to turn the splash block around and have it sloped to direct water away from the foundation.
    It must take someone from OR to see the obvious (no, I don't think that will solve the problem though)
    Well second ain't bad.

    Jim Luttrall
    www.MrInspector.net
    Plano, Texas

  12. #12
    Gary Cox's Avatar
    Gary Cox Guest

    Talking Re: Drainage issue

    Hi Joe,

    Ten months old? In my area builders "want" to get their bond release from the county once the subdivision is completed. Grading is always a speedbump they hit at the end, and the county wants homeowner grading issues resolved. At this point they tend to really respond quicker. Check with the county. Having dry and flood photos to email to a county source works well.

    Also, go to the top. Often people don't consider writing a letter with photos directly, personally to the owner of the company. The siding on my house was replaced when I showed the owner of a very large builder here, the photos of blown off, unsecured siding. Also showed in the photos how the siding was nailed...too tight...with tearing observed.
    Pretty dramatic response. He sent a different person to the house, releiving the lady that had been on the case not getting much done. Next thing you know, I had a whole different group of people helping, and a complete tear off and redo. That was 8 years ago..and siding is perfect.

    The photo? Extend it out at least 6 feet.
    As strange as this sounds...consider one of those water collection barrels here, you use the water for gardening. It will certaining dry things up here.
    Saw this recently at a home. Old school stuff but it works.

    GC

    Last edited by Gary Cox; 08-14-2009 at 06:16 AM. Reason: Clarify

  13. #13
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    Default Re: Drainage issue

    Make sure the fill used around foundation is a impermeable soil so water travels away from foundation before being absorbed.

    Tom Rees / A Closer Look Home Inspection / Salt Lake City, Utah

  14. #14
    Cobra Cook's Avatar
    Cobra Cook Guest

    Wink Re: Drainage issue

    It looks as if there are two building corners. Does the valley and gutters have a diverter at the bottom to prevent rain water from overshooting the gutter? It might be a good idea to move the down spout to the other end if extending it out does not solve the problem. It will definitely need to be extending at the very least past the left hand part of the building. Most likely can bury a little for cosmetic looks.

    Last edited by Cobra Cook; 08-14-2009 at 09:13 PM.

  15. #15
    Michael Farha's Avatar
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    Default Re: Drainage issue

    Looking at the picture, it appears that the splash block is turned the wrong way. Try turning them around to direct the water away from the footings. If problem still exists, add extensions to the downspouts farther away from footings.


  16. #16

    Default Re: Drainage issue

    Well second ain't bad.
    Looks like Michael and I do a lot of post skimming...


  17. #17
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    Default Re: Drainage issue

    Quote Originally Posted by A.D. Miller View Post
    JM: Just as JL has noted above, St. Louis has adopted the 2003 IRC and your builder is obligated to comply with the drainage provisions therein. Extending the downspouts, may perhaps prove helpful to some extent, but is not required except in areas with expansive soils. St. Louis does not appear to have underlying expansive soils. Correcting the grading either through soil elevation alteration or mechanical means is required.

    Oh yes we do! (Bold & underlining in the quote are mine.) It's not as big a problem here as in other areas, but yes, we do have expansive clay soils in and around St. Louis as well.


  18. #18
    A.D. Miller's Avatar
    A.D. Miller Guest

    Default Re: Drainage issue

    Quote Originally Posted by Michael Chambers View Post
    Oh yes we do! (Bold & underlining in the quote are mine.) It's not as big a problem here as in other areas, but yes, we do have expansive clay soils in and around St. Louis as well.
    MC: My post says "does not appear to have". And that referes to this map:

    Expansive Soils Extreme Weather Hits Home – Weblog

    Looks like you have, a the very most, moderately expansive soils in a small part of the state and not in most of the state.

    BTW: my area is in the red stripe to the south of you.


  19. #19
    Ted Menelly's Avatar
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    Default Re: Drainage issue

    Quote Originally Posted by Brandon Whitmore View Post
    It must take someone from OR to see the obvious (no, I don't think that will solve the problem though)

    If it is well sloped and you have splash blocks it is advisable to have them reversed so when the water hits the back splash it blows up in the air still away from the home and keeps the soil from eroding at the end of the splash block. Even a moderate slope I suggest it. Low to flat....Never.


  20. #20

    Default Re: Drainage issue

    If it is well sloped and you have splash blocks it is advisable to have them reversed so when the water hits the back splash it blows up in the air still away from the home and keeps the soil from eroding at the end of the splash block. Even a moderate slope I suggest it. Low to flat....Never
    I've never heard of that, but makes sense if you guys drain water that close to a foundation.

    I tell my clients to get rid of those things, and install proper drain pipes that deposit water least 6-10' from the foundation.


  21. #21
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    Default Re: Drainage issue

    6 inches in 10 feet is only a half of 1% fall / slope which is next to nothing. Raising the grade at the foundation 3-4 inches and increasing the slope would help immeasurably. 1.25 inches of fall in 10 feet equals 1% of slope, which is usually the amount of slope most garage floors have.

    Good Luck !


  22. #22
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    Default Re: Drainage issue

    Our Code in BC, Canada requires that backfill shall be graded to prevent drainage towards the foundation AFTER ALLOWING FOR SETTLEMENT. It is this last part which is NEVER addressed. How many builders use a "jumping jack" after backfilling each 18 inches of soil up to the finished grade? How many municipal inspectors are there, at the time of backfilling, to ensure that this compliance is met?

    I would venture to say virtually NONE! If this requirement was met on every house there would be a lot less problems with drainage around the foundation. I find improper grading on at least one side of the house in about 9 out of every 10 homes which I inspect. This gets a rating of being "significantly deficient" and "must be repaired" in every one of my reports. I state that, "Failure to remedy this condition may lead to water entry and damage in the basement/crawl space under the house, or settlement of the foundation".

    Get the builder to excavate down to near the footing and re-install the backfill with proper compaction methods up to the finished grade. Then have the soil sloping away at 8% (1 inch per foot) from the house for at least 5 feet, and preferably further. After 10 years, the house will likely still meet the proper grading requirements.

    However, good luck with that.


  23. #23
    Jay Etheredge's Avatar
    Jay Etheredge Guest

    Default Re: Drainage issue

    First turn the splash blocks around so they drain properly without debris build up. Next have the home owner add a few bags of sand to the areas to improve the slope away from the home. The sand will work its way down into the voids and displace the water. They can also add a little compost to promote grass growth.

    Then document all aspects of the changes made, with pics, and send billing to the builder. If he refuses to pay the minimal amount file a small claims. It looks like the problem could be solved for a couple of hundred dollars at the most, but you never know?


  24. #24
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    Default Re: Drainage issue

    Ted,
    (If it is well sloped and you have splash blocks it is advisable to have them reversed ) they do that here also. Slows the water down to keep from washing out the soil at the mouth of the splash block. Even on a low slope lawn the lawn should be pitched and if not splash blocks shouldn't be used and drainage pipes added.

    Mike Schulz License 393
    Affordable Home Inspections
    www.houseinspections.com

  25. #25
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    Colorado
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    Default Re: Drainage issue

    Did the builder due the landscaping at the back and the sides of the house. In my area it is common for builders to only landscape the the front and up to the fence on the sides. If so he could possible say that the grading was satisfactory and the people who did the landscaping changed it.


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