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From the day of inspection, we knew that there was a list of water-related issues we needed to address in order to protect our foundation. When we moved in to our house back in mid-June, the list looked like this:

1. Replace the leaky roof and gutter
2. Extend the downspouts
3. Getting rid of the front flower bed
4. Correct the sloping issues of the front and back porch
5. Seal the corner foundation cracks
6. Fix faucet leaks
7. Grading around the house

Since then, we have extended the downspouts, removed the front flower bed, demo-ed the sinking patios, and rebuilt a 37-feet long back patio with correct slope, leaving the list looking like this:

1. Replace the leaky roof and gutter
2. Extend the downspouts
3. Getting rid of the front flower bed
4. Correct the sloping issues of the front and back porch 
5. Seal the corner foundation cracks
6. Fix faucet leaks
7. Grading around the house

Coming to September,  we started seeing more rain and the night temperature has dropped to the 50’s. Colorado winter comes quickly! Our goal is to complete this “waterproof” list before winter hits, which in our region is early October. We have scheduled our roof work to be completed this month. This week, our plan is to finish grading around the house.

To achieve proper grading and effectively drain water away from our foundation, we need to pack dirt around the house perimeter, with at least 1 inch per foot slope away from the house. Then, a layer of water-proof membrane (such as this 6-mil poly) will be laid on top of the dirt to prevent water from seeping down around the house, and finished with gravel on top to facilitate drainage. After some research online, we decided to use structural dirt to create the slope, and mountain granite as our top layer.

Slav ordered them from a local company, and both dirt and gravel were delivered next day:

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It might not look like a lot from the picture, but in person they were pretty substantial piles. I’d say that it was about 20 wheel barrels of each.

If you remember our site plan (see our recent video tour of our yard here), our house has a concrete walkway on its southern side and a long patio meets most of the back side.

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The rest of the foundation was left unprotected, including the entire northern side of the house:

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Part of the back side of the house, where the patio did not cover:

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And where the front flower bed and patio used to be:

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Last weekend, before we ordered the dirt and gravel, we have replaced all the rusty and old window wells with brand new ones. When I was at work, Slav transferred all the dirt around the foundation using a wheel barrel:

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Then we packed it down with a significant slope, , about 4 feet wide on the side and the back of the house:

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All the dirt with a shade darker is the new structure soil. It is filtered from regular soil and supposedly does not support plant growth as well. Using it to fill around the house should prevent weed growth around the foundation.

Slav also replaced the soil immediately around the patio and the shed with this structural soil, in order to keep weeds from growing into the slabs:

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We plant to build raised beds around the patio and a green house next to our shed, so we do not need soil around them to be bio-active.

As for the front of the house, Slav packed down the structural dirt where the old patio was:

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It might be difficult to see, but there is also a gentle slope. The pine tree above blocks most of the participation onto this spot, which keeps this place pretty dry. We did consider pouring a new patio here, which might be the best way of protecting water from getting down along the foundation. However, we would love to enlarge the basement window here down the road, and pouring new concrete patio will make any work way more difficult. For now, we are happy with just changing the old, rusty window well to a brand new one and grade the space with structural dirt.

The old patio spot and the front steps are both 5 feet wide, so we made grading on the rest of the front side 5 feet wide as well. You can see how we slopped the old flower bed area so that water should drain away from the house:

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All the dirt work took a whole day. The next day, we put down some 6-mil Poly and Slav started to lay down gravel on the top:

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The northern side:

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The back:

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On the third day, Slav used the mountain granite gravel to cover all the poly and built it up to about 3-inches thick. It is about 3-4 layers of gravel, which not only holds the plastic firmly in place, but also ensures that we can walk on it without damaging the plastic.

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After three days of hard work (and Slav did 99% of it), we have completed grading around the house! This is what the front of the house look like now:

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And this is the back:

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The window wells themselves also have poly layer and gravel in them:

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Slav made sure that water drains properly around the air conditioner as well:

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And this is the northern side of the house. We have decided that this side does not need any window wells since the surface of the gravel is inches below the window sills. Without window wells, these windows let in much more light into the basement bedrooms, and the exterior on this side looks much cleaner:

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Do you remember how it looked like a week ago?

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What a change, right? Now our “waterproof” list looking like this:

1. Replace the leaky roof and gutter (in progress!)
2. Extend the downspouts
3. Getting rid of the front flower bed
4. Correct the sloping issues of the front and back porch 
5. Seal the corner foundation cracks (in progress)
6. Fix faucet leaks
7. Grading around the house