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James Barnett

Inches of running water on patio against house

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I'm under contract to buy a house and the owner just disclosed previous flooding through the back door.

20 minutes into moderately heavy rain I went by and took these photos. The water is several inches deep on the patio against the house and moving rapidly.

I have a chance to get out of the contract based on the disclosure before wasting money on an inspection, assessment, etc., if I do so quickly, but wife and kids really love the house.

The shear amount of water looks to me like it would easily overflow any French drain type system, and the back yard beyond what you can see slopes significantly towards the house.

I'd appreciate any thoughts or advice.

The following is a link to the photo album in Google Docs and include 3 "before" photos for reference:

https://goo.gl/photos/q46RsiHzDX1NxP6n8

Thanks.

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Nice work. I'd show them the pics and request an adjustment that allowed me to correct the conditions that are painfully obvious. If they didn't give it to me, I'd have to do arithmetic to determine if deal was good enough to allow me to make the repairs and not be underwater literally and economically. Sometimes stuff is priced to reflect the problem, sometimes not.

How good do you think your deal is?

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It's a good deal, but not good enough I'd be willing to spend much to fix the problem myself.

One issue is I don't see any simple solution to that sheer amount of water--it seems like it would easily overwhelm any kind of french drain, and since the ground slopes down to the house from every direction until you get past that patio, any solution would have to go underground or suspend the laws of gravity.

Clearly the idea was for the water to go under the deck that abuts the patio, but short of a 3 feet ditch running under it, I can't imagine anything else being sufficient. But I'm no expert.

How bad is it to have water a few inches high against the house like that? I'm guessing pretty bad, but I don't really know.

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Why not just divert the flow with swales?

I just built one about 80' long to carry water from my backyard to the municipal ditch in front. Took about 20 hrs of work.

Marc

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Marc, what you can't see from those photos is that the back and front yards both slope down to that patio-deck area, so to go around the deck, water would have to go uphill. Maybe under the deck, that's probably how it was originally intended to work and just got silted in over the years--it's a 16 year old house, and a *lot* of water is also going under that deck. But it wouldn't be easy to get under there to do any digging, it's just inches off the ground, unless special tools exist to do that.

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I don't know enough about it to say, but the only tree in the picture is in the neighbor's yard. In the first 2 pictures of the flooding, you can make out a 4 inch retaining wall the water is flowing over from the small river in the neighbor's yard. The grade gets pretty steep to the left and right of that picture--without a lot of digging, the best I could see a retaining wall doing is forcing the water under the deck rather than the patio, but it would still flow from under the deck onto the patio.

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Yes, Jim, this does seem to be that lot. The back yard, where the photos are taken, is about 15 feet below the street in front of the house. The house sits at the end of a cul-de-sac with a street slanting downward. When I parked my car on the street and got out to go take those pictures, the water in the middle of the road was already over my toes (I was wearing sandals), and now that I think of it, I don't even remember seeing a curb drain in the cul-de-sac. Facing down the street, the house directly in the path of that water isn't this one--this one is to the left from that facing--but looking at the plat, 20 houses along that street have their back yards draining into this one--there is a steady grade down along the entire street, and there is an upwards grade at the back of each lot, so there is nowhere for the water from all 20 lots to go other than to this one.

The pictures don't really convey the sheer amount of water that was pouring down from what I would call a small whitewater river passing through the higher neighbor's yard. If you look at the 5th picture, the 2nd one with water, what looks like a small puddle to the left right before it overflows the 4 inch retaining wall is actually 9 inches deep. If I had had a full sized barrel, I could have completely filled it in less than a second, without making a dent in the water going around it. If something had dislodged from one of the higher lots and hit me as I waded through it, I've not doubt it would have had enough force to break my leg.

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https://goo.gl/photos/9JdWx65eG9AP8FRh7 is bit bit blurry but might give the best sense of it. That is about 4 foot wide 6-8 inch deep water going under the deck abutting the patio, with another 4 foot wide 4-6 inch stream on the patio itself. The patio is does grade away from the house, so the water on the house wall itself is only about 3 inches deep--enough to reach the bottom of the rear door.

And this is after 20 minutes of moderately heavy rain after a long dry period.

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If you cannot find a way to redirect the water away from the house using a swale I would walk away. Drainage work can be expensive and does not always work due site limitations, dumb contractors, etc.

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If you cannot find a way to redirect the water away from the house using a swale I would walk away. Drainage work can be expensive and does not always work due site limitations, dumb contractors, etc.

Jim is right, it is probably time to walk away.

It has been my experience that house number two is loved more by the lovely wife than the first home. Good luck with your house hunting!

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I've been in Detroit for a few days, and for some reason I couldn't get to the pics first time around....lousy wifi at the Airbnb. This time, I can see the degree of the issue.

You for sure walk away from this one.

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It would take a serious project to redirect all of that water, and it would probably need periodic maintenance. Can you discharge all of that water downhill of the house at the property line? If you can get a screaming deal on the place, and there are many other wonderful things about it, then it might be a good move. Question is, how many guys do you have on speed-dial that own excavators, skid steers, loaders, and dump trucks? This is not a project you would do yourself with stuff from Ace.

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James,

Most of the time the jurisdiction that is responsible for the road is also responsible for the run off. Getting them to correct the problem can be a long drawn out process. If this is a private road then your probably up the creak....

Taking on this burden would have to be a costly adventure to correct. Burns, catchment systems and drainage lines taking the water to smother location and directing it to an adjacent property that you would then be responsible for their new water issues and your liabilities.

Unless the deal is to good to pass up you might consider the now famous advice of " RUN Forest RUN!"

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Thanks for the advice, everyone. I did go see the house with an inspector this morning so my wife would have no doubts, and he found moisture in the walls and agreed it would take thousands to try to address the drainage problem, and even then it might not work, plus the moisture already in the walls would have to be dealt with afterwards. So we're taking a walk on this one.

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