Photograph of building damage near Los Angeles 2000 © Daniel FriedmanSite Drainage & Landscaping Defects List & Home Inspection Education

  • DEFECTS LIST - SITE DRAINAGE - CONTENTS: Defects in site or area drainage and landscaping that impact buildings - defects list and inspection recommendations. Lists of important defects for residential buildings. What does a home inspector need to know? Home inspection training and education curriculum recommendations
  • POST a QUESTION or READ FAQs about home & building inspection courses, standards, & defect checklists for site drainage

InspectAPedia tolerates no conflicts of interest. We have no relationship with advertisers, products, or services discussed at this website.

This article lists significant site drainanage and landscaping defects, definitions, and home inspection education topics. This article series, beginning at BUILDING DEFECTS LISTS, provides lists of common building defects and basic defect knowledge that also outline recommended curriculum content for home inspector education. The building defects and inspection points listed in these articles also guide homeowners and home buyers to building areas that merit careful attention and often point areas of safety concern or important maintenance and repair tasks.

Green links show where you are. © Copyright 2017, All Rights Reserved.

Home Inspection Education Curriculum - Sitework, Drainage

These curriculae and building defect lists are based on smilar curriculum documents first prepared by Joe Scaduto, an ASHI member who prepared course material for Northeastern University's Building Inspection Certificate program in 1988, subsequently by DF, InspectApedia's editor, for New York University ca 1988 and later, with others, recommended to ASHI, the American Society of Home Inspectors. ASHI did not adopt this material though currently that association as well as others offer extensive HOME INSPECTOR EDUCATION material

The curriculum and lists of defects are informed by additional analysis of the process of home inspection that was developed beginning Calgary, AB for Canadian and U.S. home inspector education and certification examinations in 1997. Other early contributors to home inspection education in the U.S. and Canada include Dr. Jess Aronstein, Alan Carson, Mike Casey, Mark Cramer, John Cox, Dwight Barnett, Douglas Hansen, Rick Heyl, Larry Hoytt, Bill Merrill, Kevin O'Malley, Dennis Robitalille, Keith Peddie, Pat Porzio, Roger Robinson. Also see GUTTERS & DOWNSPOUTS and see FLOOD DAMAGE ASSESSMENT, SAFETY & CLEANUP. Also STAIRS, RAILINGS, LANDINGS, RAMPS

7.3   Site Drainage Inspections: Surface Water Control and Landscaping

7.3.1 Knowledge Base for Site Drainage Inspections

1.    Describe the importance of surface water control and how landscaping may affect homes.

2.    Describe these types of roof drainage systems: gutters and downspouts, scuppers, interior drains.

3.    Describe the materials/components of gutter and downspout systems, window wells, walkways, patios and driveways, retaining walls.

4.    Describe the features of  adequate installation and repair technique for lot grading, gutters, downspouts, window wells, walkways, driveways and grounds, and retaining walls.

5.    Define the following terms:

Swale, catchbasin, foundation drainage layer, gutter, trough, eavestrough, downspout, leader, conductor pipe, ice damming, integral gutter, Yankee gutter, splashblock, scupper, ponding, birdcage, retaining wall (gravity, cantilever, tile, shoring, tie-back, deadman, weephole)

6.    Identify the codes or standards which apply to surface water control and landscaping systems in your area.

7.3.2 Inspection Skills for Site Drainage Inspections

1.    Describe the inspection procedure for lot grading, roof drainage, window wells, walks and driveways, grounds, patios, retaining walls.

2.    Identify the common defects listed on the next page.

3.    Describe the implications of each defect .

4.    Identify safety issues for the inspector and occupant of the house (fall hazard, trip hazard, slip hazard).

5.    Communicate findings to client verbally and in writing, recommending corrective action where needed.




• Cover inoperable                        • Damaged

• Door threshold missing,                 • Drains –

too low, not watertight

• Drains missing, clogged or undersized         – Missing

• Frost damage                                  – Not connected

• Guard and handrail problems                   – Broken

• Insect damage                                 – Obstructed

• Leaking                                 • Missing

• Paint or stain needed                   • Rot or wood/soil contact

• Rot                                     • Rust

• Rust

• Step and landing problems               WALKS AND DRIVEWAYS DEFECTS 

• Walls cracking, leaning, bowing or

spalling                                  • Cracked or damaged surfaces

• Improper slope or drainage

LOT GRADING DEFECTS                       • Uneven (trip hazard)

• Clogged catch basins                    GROUNDS DEFECTS 

• Improper slope

• Porous material                         • Disturbed ground

• Soil erosion                            • Trees or shrubs too close to house

GUTTERS  DEFECTS                          PATIOS DEFECTS 

• Improper slope                          • Retaining walls –

• Leaking or clogged                            – Cracks

• Loose or damaged                              – Bulging

• Missing                                       – Bowing

• Rusted                                        – Drainage system missing

• Undersized                                    – Leaning

– Deteriorated mortar

DOWNSPOUTS                                      – Spalling

– Settlement or shifting

• Clogged                                       – Rot or insect damage

• Damaged                                 • Slip hazards

• Downspouts discharging onto roofs       • Slope towards house

• Downspouts discharging onto the ground  • Trip hazards

• Downspouts discharging below grade

• Leaking                                 GUARDRAILS AND HANDRAILS DEFECTS

• Missing

• Too few                                 • Damage at bottom

• Undersized                              • Missing or ineffective

• low slope  JDG                          • Missing


ROOF DRAINS  DEFECTS                     • Rust

• Too low

• Clogged                                 • Weak

• Drains not at low spots  

• Leaking                                 RETAINING WALLS DEFECTS

• Scuppers missing

• Too few drains                          • Bowing

• Undersized                              • Cracking

• Drainage system missing

COLUMNS DEFECTS                           • Leaning

• Mortar – deteriorated, missing

• Cracking                                • Rot or insect damage

• Heaving                                 • Rusting

• Leaning                                 • Settling or shifting

• Rusting                                 • Spalling

• Settling      

• Spalling

Site Drainage Articles

Watch out: these inspection lists do not list all possible defects for the systems discussed, and not all home or building inspectors will examine all of the items listed here. CONTACT us to suggest corrections or additions to articles at this website.


Continue reading at ARTICLE INDEX to BUILDING MOISTURE or select a topic from closely-related articles below, or see our complete INDEX to RELATED ARTICLES below.




Suggested citation for this web page

DEFECTS LIST - SITE DRAINAGE at - online encyclopedia of building & environmental inspection, testing, diagnosis, repair, & problem prevention advice.


Or use the SEARCH BOX found below to Ask a Question or Search InspectApedia


Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Click to Show or Hide FAQs

Ask a Question or Search InspectApedia

Use the "Click to Show or Hide FAQs" link just above to see recently-posted questions, comments, replies, try the search box just below, or if you prefer, post a question or comment in the Comments box below and we will respond promptly.

Search the InspectApedia website

Comment Box is loading comments...

Technical Reviewers & References

Click to Show or Hide Citations & References

Publisher's Google+ Page by Daniel Friedman