I often encounter raised homes with water problems in New Orleans during my home inspections. Surprisingly, the percentage is high, I would say that I encounter this on about 80% of my home inspections. I guess the reason is clear: it’s a lot of hard work for yourself, or you have to pay a landscaping company big money to correct the problem. I sometimes see easy jobs that would only take an hour and little digging, commonly I see big jobs that require large machinery and concrete. But this is often the most expensive deficiency to correct on a new home or commercial property.
Pictured is a shot that I took in the crawl space of and area under the front porch. It’s not a very good picture but you should be able to see the water stains on the cinder blocks and the muddy soil. Clearly water is pooling under the front porch during rain events. Some of the issue with the front of the home was with a vent that was not sealed very well on the top and this was letting water in. This house also had water problems in the back of the structure. The back was clearly more of grading issue and not a hole.
The negative issues with water problems are clear. One issue is pier deterioration, but this can take many decades of reoccurring water pooling. I can give you a time frame so that you can put it into context. The mortar on a normal pier, without being soaked in water will deteriorate over time but this typically takes about 175 years before repointing the pier is necessary. A repetitively water soaked pier will have mortar deterioration quicker and may only last for about 120 years. Of course there are a lot of variables that can affect these numbers but this is about the average that I see out there in there in the real world during my home inspections. This is something that you get a feel of with many years of home inspection experience.
Another problem is termites and other pests. Animals are attracted to water so it’s not a good idea to have it under your home. More water vapor getting into your home is an issue, especially if the crawl space is not breathing properly. For some the biggest issue with a wet environment can be the development of toxic mold. This is always a threat in a humid environment like South Louisiana.
So correcting improper grade around a home is important but it is not usually an emergency in most cases. Generally it is something that can be budgeted for and fixed someday in the future or when you have excess time to start digging.