Lots and Grounds

Lot and Grounds

Drainage and Grading

Proper drainage is necessary to direct water away from the house and foundation. The grade should fall away from the house one inch per foot over a 10 foot distance. A minimum clearance of 8 inches should be maintained between the finish grade and the surface of any untreated wood. Down spouts and sump discharge should also be extended at least ten feet beyond the foundation. Failure to control surface water will usually result in a wet basement.

Landscaping

Trees and shrubs that are overhanging or in contact with the house or roof may cause premature deterioration and should be trimmed. No tree should be planted any closer to the house than its expected height at the time of maturity. For example, a shade maple tree that may grow to be 25 feet tall should be planted at least 25 feet away from the house.

Retaining Walls

Retaining walls are used to stabilize and control erosion on steep banks. They may be made of wood, concrete, or stone. Many retaining walls lean because pressure from water build up and ground heaving try to push the wall over. A retaining wall that is cracked or leaning may remain stable for many years or gradually deteriorate. Repair may be made by excavating behind the wall and by providing weeping holes that allow water to drain out from behind the wall.

Sidewalk and Driveway

Any construction material that is poured or laid on the ground is subject to movement when seasonal changes cause the ground to heave. Concrete sidewalks and driveways will crack and may spall. A concrete section that has heaved more than 1/4 inch is considered a trip hazard and should be repaired. Cracks in concrete and asphalt surfaces are not unusual and can generally be repaired.

Wood Surfaces

Most exterior wood surfaces that contact the ground are constructed of treated wood or wood that is naturally resistant to rot. Untreated wood posts will deteriorate rapidly. Treated lumber requires regular maintenance in cleaning and applying a wood preservative. Wood surfaces that are not treated,  including wood siding, should be covered with an exterior grade paint or stain.

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