Taking Care of your House

Home Inspector with Massachusetts Home Inspections MA. License#566

The easiest way to take care of your house is to keep unwanted moisture away from the exterior, particularly the foundation, and out of the interior, particularly the attic, closets, and interior ceilings. This typically means little or no watering next to your foundation. This typically translates into no high-water-use plants next to your foundation. (What's a high water-use plant? Typically they are big plants, tropical plants, and plants that have large foliage or lots of flowers.) I recommend regular monitoring and maintenance of the exterior roof, walls, and foundation to include the structural and mechanical components attached to them and all interior walls and floors under any upper stories.



Home ownership! It's not easy being a homeowner, and there will be many things that become problems while you own your home in which you will need to spend money to resolve. I recommend proactive preventive maintenance rather that after-the-fact reactive repair. To that end, throughout your inspection report you may read certain recommendations of homeowner monitoring and maintenance. This means that things will fall apart or become problematic if you don't take care of them periodically. Some items will need to be monitored and maintained Daily - (plumbing fixtures, basement, etc.), Monthly - (GFCI outlets, etc.) or Annually - (roof, water heater, fireplace, gas-using appliances, etc.). You're investing a substantial amount of money in your home. Please take care of it or hire professional service contractors to continually take care of it for you.



Grading and drainage are probably the most significant aspects of a property, simply because of the direct and indirect damage that moisture can have on structures. More damage has probably resulted from moisture and expansive soils than from most natural disasters, and for this reason I am particularly diligent when I evaluate property conditions. In fact, I compare all properties to an ideal. In short, the ideal property will have soils that slope away from the house (not towards or leveled out) and the interior floors will be at least several inches higher than the exterior grading. Also, the house will have gutters and downspouts that discharge into area drains with catch basins that carry water away to hard surfaces.

If there are no gutters in place, rainwater heads right for the weeping tile around the basement and can overload your foundation drainage system causing a flooded basement. The land around many homes settles over time, and then slopes in toward the foundation. If your foundation grading slopes inward, you'll want to fill in and grade the lot so you have at least 6 feet out from around the entire foundation. Ultimatey, you'll want all foundation grading always sloping away from your house.

If a property does not meet this ideal condition, or if any portion of the interior floor is below grade, I will not endorse it, even though there may be no evidence of moisture intrusion.

I have discovered evidence of moisture intrusion inside homes (when it was raining) that would not have been apparent otherwise. I recommend that you consult with a grading and drainage contractor. Please go to"Maintaining Your Foundation", where I have explained (in more detail) about perfect exterior conditions.


Comments (11)

Rosario Lewis
DDR Realty - Newburgh, NY
GRI, SRES - DDR Realty - Orange County, NY
A good garden supply or greenhouse should be able to tell you if a plant is appropriate for near your house. You just need to remember to ask!
Dec 22, 2007 12:42 AM
David Valley
Massachusetts Home Inspections - Methuen, MA
Massachusetts Home Inspections


If the plant requires watering, it is not a good idea to saturate an area outside your foundation due to this water accumulating next to your foundation.


Homeowners who have homes with no basements and are built on slab, should keep their plantings and vegetation away from the siding of their home for obvious reasons.

Dec 22, 2007 02:05 AM
Gene Allen
Fathom Realty - Cary, NC
Realty Consultant for Cary Real Estate
We have a lot of homes around here that are below grade.  You really just have to deal with it if you want a home.   Of course right now there are so many on the market you can choose not to have one below grade.
Dec 22, 2007 02:52 AM
Erby Crofutt
B4 U Close Home Inspections&Radon Testing (www.b4uclose.com) - Lexington, KY
The Central Kentucky Home Inspector, Lexington KY

Here's a good example of why you should keep your grading below the foundation line as recommended.

Picture 1 is the outside showing the planter beds higher than the top of the foundation.

 Soil level higher than foundation

Picture 2 is what happened to the sill plate and joists.  Remember sill plates are 1 and ONE HALF inches thick, not one inch.

rotted sill plate and rim joist



Dec 22, 2007 05:47 AM
David Valley
Massachusetts Home Inspections - Methuen, MA
Massachusetts Home Inspections

Excellent pics, Erby. I can't count the times I've ran into grading that was above the sill line. These situations are condusive to Termites, Carpenter Ants and excessive rot.

Thanks for sharing.

Dec 22, 2007 09:15 AM
Christopher Currins
CBC Home Inspections - Godfrey, IL
Metro East Home Inspector - IL.
Good post for the homeowner. Basic maintenance and design that doesn't cost a lot of money, but can help prevent major problems that can add up to a major expense.
Dec 22, 2007 05:58 PM
Dale Baker
Baker Energy Audits and Commercial Properties Inspections - Claremont, NH
New Hampshire Relocation Real Estate Information

Howdy David

You have gave folks some fine info on doing basic maintenance for their home.

Have a good one


Dec 23, 2007 12:38 AM
Bill Gassett
RE/MAX Executive Realty - Hopkinton, MA
Metrowest Massachusetts Real Estate
Dave - Good advice. It always amazes me that so many people do not take care of their homes and allow problems to develop when they could have easily been prevented.
Dec 25, 2007 12:37 PM
Erby Crofutt
B4 U Close Home Inspections&Radon Testing (www.b4uclose.com) - Lexington, KY
The Central Kentucky Home Inspector, Lexington KY

A lot of people just don't know any better.  They need to "Get Educated" but most choose not too!

They don't seem to understand that a home needs regular maintenance just like  a car does.  But then some of them don't take care of their car either.

Ah Well.

Dec 30, 2007 10:25 PM
David Valley
Massachusetts Home Inspections - Methuen, MA
Massachusetts Home Inspections

You are absolutely correct, Mr. Crofutt.


We see this situation everyday. I can't say it enough, how important it is to keep roof water away from the house foundation. With the homes that I inspect, 90% of them need some sort of drainage upgrade in order to keep water away from their foundation.

Dec 30, 2007 10:50 PM
Robert Dirienzo
HABITEC Home and Building Inspections, LLC - Franklin, TN
Home Inspections - Nashville TN
great pics
Jan 03, 2008 01:01 PM