Keep your foundation clear of growth and well drained to avoid structural problems, drainage issues, and expensive repairs.
Shrubbery, flowerbeds, or other forms of landscaping around the foundation of a home are attractive, but when they get too close they may contribute to serious and expensive problems. Maintain a healthy buffer between growth and the foundation and keep an eye out for encroachments into this important zone. When you look at potential investments or send your building contractor or landscaper to work on your own home or your rental property, for example, make sure that foundation issues are adequately addressed.
Here are some guidelines to help you maintain an adequately clear foundation:
· Keep about 18 inches next to your foundation clear, and make sure that soil drains away – not toward – the home. Take a watering hose and run water in that space next to the foundation. If it runs downhill away from the home, you’re in good shape. You don’t need a jogging path, mind you, so there is no need to go overboard. But an average sized person – or a child, for example – should be able to walk unimpeded around the entire structure with one shoulder hugging the outside wall.
· Clear away any unwanted growth, accumulated dirt, or leaves and other debris left over from winter. If growth is touching the wall of the foundation, it is too close. Have rotten wood, deteriorating brickwork, or termites tracks – that look like veins made of thin paths of mud – checked more thoroughly by a qualified contractor.
· Drainage needs to slope away from the home, not toward it; otherwise water may pool at the base of your home and cause trouble. Or it could leak into the home if there is a severe rainstorm or if someone accidentally forget to turn off an outside faucet that is connected to the wall of your home. If the turf is piled up or sloped like a snowdrift against the foundation, that is also a problem. The landscape should grade gradually downhill, starting at the base of the foundation and extending outward.
If the gutters are clear, there is space around the outside walls of your home, and drainage is in the right direction, the foundation will stay uncluttered and dry and won’t be a suitable home for unwanted pests. Plus, one of the first places a home inspector or appraiser looks is around the outside perimeter of the house. If the foundation is not correctly maintained it can kill an otherwise smooth transaction or cost you a ton of repair fees to rectify the situation and appease a buyer or their mortgage company.
Make it a habit to conduct routine homeowner maintenance tasks such as this monitoring of your foundation. They don’t necessarily require a big budget or lots of weekend hours, but they can help to preserve the value of your property, improve the way it looks, enhance the enjoyment of your home, and boost your valuable equity.