When inspecting a residential property, accessing the grade of the land is an important detail. Improper landscape grade can cause a plethora of problems for a home. Many problems arise from incorrect property grade such as, flooding, structural damage, and strange visual aesthetics. This is an important factor in determining the value of your property altogether.

At the time your home was constructed, engineers calculated the proper grade (or slope) of the surrounding landscape, to make sure issues of saturated soil after heavy rains would not be a problem. The final grade can also add to the home’s aesthetic value, creating a visual contrast to neighboring homes. But, what happens and how do homeowners know if their property has an improper grade?

Signs that your home’s landscaping may not have the right slope will be evident if you notice the following:

  • The land does not seem to slope away from the home or slopes towards the home’s foundation.
  • Wet, spongy places in the yard after rainfall, indicating a level grade (not properly sloped).
  • Water that pools near the home’s foundation and eventually enters the basement.
  • Water stains in the basement, mold and mildew accumulation, or cracks in your concrete surfaces.

If you notice these issues are evident on your property, there are a number of factors that can contribute to improper grade. In addition to workers laying an improper slope during the construction phase of your home, if you’ve had a landscaping renovation that added areas of mulch or dirt material for plantings—then the slope and drainage system may have been altered.

Improper grading issues can be difficult to determine with the naked eye, so always contact a professional contractor or home inspector that can accurately determine if your home’s grading is the cause of water pooling or foundational issues. There are also many useful DIY products that can help reverse the water drainage issues created by a negative grade or a level grade.