Altering Finished Grades.  Most single family residences are delivered with a driveway, but without the walkways, patios, landscaping, and drainage systems. Building codes usually require that that the surrounding bare lot slopes away from the home so rainwater flows away from the home. Unfortunately, the homeowner or an aftermarket contractor will often pour the sidewalks and patios directly on top of the finished grade which allows water to flow between the walkway and the home.  Swimming pool contractors have been known to set their decks and coping too high, causing water to flow back toward the home.  Water that flows and seeps under the foundation and can cause the foundation to shift.  If the soils have high clay content the water may not drain readily and the soil can then swell to up to 30 percent of its dry volume, and the foundation can move upward causing extensive interior and exterior damage.

The bottom line: Alteration of finished grades results in some of the most costly claims made in construction defect disputes.

Read more common costly homeowner mistakes from The Home Book

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