Grading and Drainage: How Is It Important for Your Home?

Date Published: February 6, 2023

The exterior of a home is a very important thing. It provides the armor that protects its inhabitants from the unpredictable elements of the world. The foundation, siding, windows and roof work together to (hopefully) keep you safe and sound in your humble abode.

But as important as all those elements are, they would be lost without their surrounding allies – grading and drainage.

Explaining Grading and Drainage?

Grading refers to the slope of your property, specifically the slope that helps water drain away from your home’s foundation. During construction, builders will commonly shape the earth around the building in a declined configuration to achieve proper grading (as shown in the picture below).

Even driveways and landscaping should generally have a downward slope. The ideal slope surrounding your house should be at a 5% grade. However, grading can vary considerably from home to home.

Once the water travels away from your foundation, you don’t want it to collect in another location on the property. That’s where proper drainage comes into play. Drainage refers to the channels and systems that are designed to collect and move water away from your home.

There are several common types of drainage techniques that can be utilized depending on the building project.

Both grading and drainage should be implemented together in order to ensure that water flows away from your home and toward a specified destination (such as a storm drain).

Why Is Proper Grading and Drainage So Important?

As we discussed in our past article, Moisture Control in Homes: A “Watershed” Moment, moisture can enter the home through multiple routes. One of the most common modes of moisture entry is through the foundation.

When poor grading and/or drainage is present, water can start to pool around your home. This can lead to a number of issues.

Poor grading and drainage at foundation

Image sourced from:

First of all, as the moisture builds up around the foundation, it will eventually apply hydrostatic pressure onto the foundation. This is the biggest issue caused by poor grading in Colorado (and many other regions).

Hydrostatic pressure is “the pressure exerted by a fluid at equilibrium at any point of time due to the force of gravity.”

In other words, as water gathers up against the foundation, the force of gravity will cause it to exert pressure. As the pressure increases, the water will make its way through any tiny cracks or openings that may be present.

Temperature fluctuations can cause expansion, potentially intensifying cracks in the foundation. Water can make its way into vulnerable parts of the foundation, causing flooding and water damage. And in worst-case scenarios, the foundation wall can bow and fail.

Image sourced from:

Moisture intrusion in the home can start to initiate a domino effect. It can cause mold growth, and weaken wood components of the structure.

Furthermore, with water draining toward your house, surrounding landscaping could become saturated. This then introduces its own set of issues, such as dead plants and flowers, weed growth, and other unsightly problems.

You may have achieved proper grading, with water flowing safely away from the foundation. But as stated above, it is a two-step process. Drainage methods must also be properly configured, in order to direct the water off of the property. Otherwise, a whole list of other potential issues could occur.

Flooded yard caused by poor grading and drainage.

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With water pooling up in the yard, you may start to see dying grass and/or damage to surrounding foliage. Also, puddles of stagnant, standing water will start to attract pesky insects, such as mosquitos.

Not to mention, a mushy, waterlogged lawn can eventually turn into a mud pit – especially if you have dogs! Needless to say, proper grading and drainage is a key element to a thriving property.

Inspecting The Grading and Drainage Of A Home

During our standard home inspections, grading and drainage are two key elements of the exterior inspection. Our inspectors pay close attention to the exterior, assessing the slope of the property and looking for any signs of water pooling around the home’s foundation.

Additionally, the inspector will look at drainage methods in the yard and on the house itself. We make sure that all gutters are intact and unobstructed, and that downspout extensions are utilized when necessary.

In the case that defective grading or drainage methods are observed, we will be sure to make note of it in the final report. The photo below illustrates a situation when one of our inspectors noted a section of the home with flat to negative grade. Although no structural or moisture concerns were noted at the time of inspection, long-term issues could potentially occur in the future. Therefore, this defect was called out for repair.

Are you in need of a home inspection? Here at Scott Home Inspection, it is our goal to provide you with a non-biased, thorough, and professional assessment of the property – no matter if it’s grading, drainage, or any other aspect of the home!

For more information about our services, visit us at or contact us to schedule your inspection today!

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About the Author: Chris Kimmel

Chris Kimmel worked as an Associate Home Inspector for two years, handling numerous services including sewer scope inspections, pest inspections, mold air sample testing, radon testing, and water quality testing. Chris now works with Scott Home Inspection as a Content Writing Specialist.

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