How to Grade Around a Foundation | This Old House

How to Grade Around a Foundation | This Old House

This Old House landscape contractor Roger Cook saves a soggy foundation. (See below for a shopping list and tools.)
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Shopping List for How to Grade Around a Foundation:
– Pressure-treated 2x4s, for making ground stakes
– Pressure-treated 2x12s, used to form retaining wall
– 3-inch-long galvanized screws, used to fasten lumber together
– 4-inch-diameter PVC pipe and assorted fittings, used to create drainpipe
– PVC primer and cement, used to fasten together the PVC parts
– Gravel, for covering the drainpipe

Tools for How to Grade Around a Foundation:
– Shovel
– Wheelbarrow
– Circular saw
– Small sledgehammer
– Drill/driver
– Nylon string and line level
– Rake

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How to Grade Around a Foundation | This Old House

when the inspector inspected the house his major concern was this area right here as you can see the soil is coming up against the house and it seems to be washing down from our neighbor's yard underneath the slats of this fence there a little bit uphill from us right not only does the soil come down but all the water is coming down and going right against the host right now in new construction we would want eight inches of airspace between this row of shingles in the soil mmm here you have two or three inches of soil built right up against your shingles right and that can lead to three things cop and Orient's termites and rot if you get rot in here it's not only gonna do the shingles it's gonna get to the sill underneath do you have any suggestions I do in is usually one of my projects the first step is digging so let's get some tools and get started sounds good we're gonna take out 8 inches of soil along the first course of the shingles then we're gonna get to fill it in with stone the whole length the whole wing Oh Roger look at this look at all this rot just what I was afraid of yeah but more importantly than the shingles I'd have someone check that sill underneath and make sure the rots not in there good thing we did this huh yes how's it going Roger it's going great so we've excavated so much that we are now down 10 inches below the seed of shingles that's perfect now we have to remember that your neighbor's yard is higher than your yacht and because we excavated out all his dirt wants to come down into your yacht so the first thing I did is I set up a string line which runs from your backyard all the way down to your front now that string lining is about two inches higher than your neighbor's yard so what we're going to do is we're going to set pressure-treated two by twelves up to the line and they're going to act as a retaining wall using a circular saw I cut two foot pieces of pressure-treated 2×4 and then I cut a point on the end now we're going to drive these in next to the post and what that's going to do is hold the post in place but also provide us a place to screw in the two by twelves when I Drive these in I like to use a piece of composite wood and that I'll keep the 2×4 from splitting now with all the pressure of your neighbors soil pushing on the back of these two by twelves I want to take another one of our two-by-four appointed stakes and drive it right in front I'm simply going to start it and then bang it down in place now with our retaining wall in place in the grade lowered below the shingles I want to collect the water that's coming out of this downspout as the water pours out here it's running along the shingles it's causing rot here also causing mildew on the side of the house now we're going to collect this water in a PVC pipe and run it right out to the front yard so what I want you to do is dig me a trench right down the middle sounds great with a trench dug down about 6 inches we're ready to connect this solid PVC pipe and we're just going to connect it up to the downspout elbow I'm just gonna line it up push to me good there we go now to stop water and dirt from splashing up on the house and to improve drainage we're gonna add some stone on top of this pipe we're just about done the four inch pipe runs all the way from the backyard out to the front yard where daylight's right next to your front yard downspout the water's just gonna run off you

46 thoughts on “How to Grade Around a Foundation | This Old House

  1. I would build a pave stone wall then a big french drain ,gutter water, neighbors water, take it all forward .

  2. I did not see any sloped grading away from the house. During a heavy rain, she is going to end up with a swimming pool in that "trench". A better idea would have been to pitch the neighbor's yard grade and her newly graded level into a french drain leading out to the curb.

  3. nice, how about when that gutter fills up with leaves and it fills the pvc pipe underground? I have Oak trees and all my gutters fill up with leaves and acorns every other week in the fall… Gutter guards help but don't keep it all out!

  4. She said sounds great , but what she really said is .. I shouldn’t have worn this and I thought you would do all the work

  5. Is it just me? I would have raked the leaves and crap away before digging.
    This is kinda like not sweeping your floor before washing it.

  6. They just need to pour a concrete sidewalk next to the house in that small 3 foot area and then build a small 2 foot tall retaining wall on top of the sidewalk .

  7. This is a very specific situation and the solution is not, in fact, grading, it's digging a trench and filling it with gravel. Bad title, misleading.

  8. First time I’ve ever heard someone reply, “Sounds great!” after being told to dig a trench. 😄

  9. Most of the big box stores carry pressure treated wood that is rated for above ground use only and should NOT be used where it will come in direct contact with the ground. Also… any posts, stringers, etc. should be set on, and/or bolted to, concrete footings. And finally… dry-fitting the lengths of PVC will eventually leak at the couplings… especially in the snow belt part of the country (like New England) and the critters will nest in the pipe if you don't put some kind of a grate on the end. Just don't glue it on so you can occasionally clean it out.

    I give this project a D+ as the "repair" will last no more than a few years. Basic project idea is solid… but the shoddy workmanship leaves MUCH to be desired. I expected better from Roger Cook and This Old House.

  10. French drain people….French drain.

    Then the waaada go away…..I would of took that shovel and knocked him in the head.

  11. What no glue and cleaner? Just wait for tree roots to get In there, and the connection she put together was backwards.

  12. Use stone for the wall instead of wood. All wood rots, even pressure treated, so don't waste time and money using wood in moisture prone areas. Also, I think a french drain going to the nearest downhill slope would make more sense here.

  13. Producer: "Roger, let's do it like Charlie wrote it in the script and get the recording done and get the hell out of here, so I can get home in time to watch the game."

  14. The wall pvc sidings (shingles) should never be installed touch the ground, you need exposed basement concrete wall min. one foot above ground, it helps to alleviate basement wall moisture into the atmosphere. Painting that exposed concrete wall with waterproof paint will reverse the ground moisture back inside the basement.

  15. I'd use concrete blocks instead of timber, treated or not, it will degrade eventually.
    And raising the height by 2 inches isn't enough, not long after, what will happen is the soil will build up and start pouring over again. I'd remove those fences, slide in 12" concrete base panels, and then sit the fences on top.
    If you're going to do something, do it solid. I believe in zero to low maintenance.

  16. 1:47 tisk, tisk, tisk, you don’t use wood for a retaining wall. My houses original retaining wall was wood. It fell over and a 3 foot wall of dirt came with it.

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