The Basics of Proper Grading and Drainage

April 5, 2019

Whether or not you’re a homeowner, you likely know that keeping a building’s foundation in good shape is the best way to ensure its long-term condition. What you may not know is that the biggest threat to the structural elements of a building is not necessarily natural disasters like fires, earthquakes or major storms, but rather expansive soil damage. In fact, this is one of the primary causes of structural and foundational damage to buildings all across the United States.

When talking about this form of soil damage, we also must talk about drainage and grading, as these issues very much go hand in hand. Poor drainage can result in water building up near the foundation, which, over time, can wreak havoc on its structural integrity. Fortunately, there are a number of different ways you can combat changing moisture levels near your home through proper drainage. Of course, these strategies must be implemented properly and then maintained religiously.

Not surprisingly, having a good plan before a home is even built can go a long way toward ensuring long-term success. Here is some information about the basics of proper grading and drainage that you can implement as part of your custom home plans in Oklahoma for long-term structural integrity:

  • Backfilling and grading:
    One of the first processes involved with building a new home is bringing in heavy machinery to level off the landscape where the home will be built. This ensures a plumb surface on which the foundation will lie. It’s common practice for contractors who perform this task to reuse the dirt that was excavated as backfill material, because doing so is highly convenient and economical. However, it could result in problems if the soil includes substances that are naturally expansive, such as clay. If drainage is your goal (and it should absolutely be something you consider), working with materials such as gravel or crushed stone for your backfill will better achieve that goal.
  • Drainage systems:
    The simplest drainage systems you’ll find on most properties are rain gutters and downspouts. Their primary purpose is to keep water away from the walls of your building during a storm. Using gutters and downspouts can help you strategically direct water toward locations away from your home, which prevents steady streams of water from getting down deep into the soil and saturating the area near your foundation. It’s important that you keep those gutters clean, because buildups of material in the gutter will result in water overflowing and accumulating next to the structure.
  • Waterproofing:
    If you have a basement, it’s important to do some waterproofing, as the basement is going to be more susceptible to water damage due to flooding, leaks or other issues. One common method of waterproofing is to create a concrete apron that extends a few feet out from the base of the foundation to maintain soil moisture levels at consistent levels. You can also use strategic landscaping to slope the land down and away from the home to create more natural drainage.

For more tips about grading and drainage when developing custom home plans in Oklahoma, contact the team at Perry House Plans today.

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