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How To Build Up Soil Around House Foundation

You just returned home from a nice time at the movies. You have no idea that it rained heavily as the movie was very loud. As you approach your home it is clear that the rain was so much that the streets are still a bit flooded. Luckily, the sun is out and you are able to walk to your front door as usual. Upon your approach to the front door, you notice a large pooling of water near your foundation. After inspecting the plants and shrubs around this area, you begin to realize more needs to be done to your yard.

The question comes to mind, how to build up soil around my house foundation? There are a couple of different options ranging from how high the new slope needs to be, to the type of soil or fill dirt that you will need to utilize. A few choices will need to be considered before taking on this project.

Let’s take a look at what it means to build up soil and how much it might cost me.

What Does It Mean To Build Up Soil

Exposure of your foundation and drainage issues are the two main reasons to build up the soil around your home. A proper gradient of dirt sloping away from the foundation will not only improve the drainage but also protect the foundation walls. Let’s take a look at a step-by-step process to build up dirt around the foundation of your home.

    • Figure out your starting point-get a 10-foot wood board and place it next to your foundation. Use a level on top of the board to elevate the board to the slope that you need and measure the length where the board meets the ground.
    • Determine the slope needed-this will depend on the soil type. However, the higher the slope the better drainage you will have.
    • Begin to build up your soil gradient-begin bringing in your soil to meet your desired slope.
    • Fill in any excess areas-start at the lower areas and then move closer to the home.
    • Perform a check for consistency-use the same 10-foot board to measure your consistency around the foundation of your home. Checking the slope each time is important for leveling.

Fill Dirt vs Topsoil To Build Up Soil Around House Foundation

One of the most important things to think about building up soil around the house foundation is determining the type of dirt to use. Depending on where you live will dictate what is best for you to add around your home’s foundation. You will want the fill dirt that can be compacted and not stay loose. After you add your layer of fill dirt, it is best to add a top layer of topsoil.

It is important to note that fill dirt is great for filling in openings around your foundation walls, while topsoil is great for planting and vegetation. Understanding the amount need to raise the slope of your yard around the foundation is important. It is easier to lay the topsoil than it is to lay the fill dirt. Topsoil is looser and contains nutrients and organic material for gardens. In addition, topsoil, can and should be used as the top layer (roughly 5 to 10 inches above your fill dirt) when you build up soil around the house foundation.

Why You Should Fix Negative Grading

Fixing negative grading is important because as rainwater falls it can begin to flow towards your foundation and start to degrade the foundation surface. You might also experience major puddling that finds cracks in the foundation and becomes absorbed into the home walls, which will start causing a mold problem. Making sure that water runs off the slope of the yard and your slope is 6 inches for every 6 feet is important.

What Is The Best Way To Fix Negative Grading

You will likely be adding soil to fix your negative grading situation. This not only prevents the pooling of water but also protects the foundation of the home.

    1. If you have any plants or vegetation in a negative drainage area, you will want to remove them and save for replanting.
    2. Remove grass from the negative drainage area and make sure that it is only located 6 to 10 feet from the home.
    3. Adding around 8 inches of soil will ensure the grade is not forcing water away from the home.
    4. Be sure to check the height against your foundation, so that the topsoil isn’t completely meeting the bottom of your exterior wall.
    5. Compact the soil as much as possible after you have tilled the topsoil into the existing soil.
    6. Use a level to ensure the slope is where you need it to be.
    7. Replant your grass, plants, and other vegetation that you removed during your first steps.

Consider A Downspout Extension To Your Gutters To Reduce Erosion

Once you have the slope of your yard figured out, you will want to look at your gutter system and the downspouts. Typically, the downspout only extends a few inches from your foundation. However, the water can pool up in that area near the foundation and not drain far enough from your home. Water should always be diverted 4 to 6 feet away from your home but 10 feet if possible.

The solution to this problem is to install downspout extenders and attach them to your gutter system. In addition, you will want to place gravel and rock at the end of your downspouts to avoid erosion. All of this can be purchased at a local hardware store.

How Much Will It Cost

The average cost to slope your yard is $700 to $1,700 depending on home much fill dirt is needed. If you have a large home, you could see the costs balloon up closer to $5,000. Consider a national average range of $700 to $5,000 depending on the size of the yard and home square footage.

Selling/Buying a Home

If you are selling a home that has negative grading and you don’t want to fix it, you may want to do a Pre-Listing Inspection. This will be a great selling point as you can find out what else may be wrong with the home and fix it before putting it on the market. Buyers will like that you have already had a Pre-Listing Inspection and it will make your house that much more attractive.

If you are buying a home with a Pre-Listing Inspection, then you don’t need to have a home inspection done, if it is current. This will save you money from paying for one. However, keep in mind that the seller is letting the buyers know what is wrong and they are not required to fix it unless it is a safety issue. Some sellers also have this done to avoid negotiating after a home inspection.

Other Maintenance

One area that you should be inspecting while you have your yard tilled up and are adding new layers of soil is your sprinkler system. There are ways to maintain your sprinkler system to ensure that it is going to work properly after you have added more soil layers.

Another area of concern when you are adding more soil or fill dirt to your yard is the possibility of water pooling from rains, a broken sprinkler head, or underground pipe. Allowing the project to take too long and the water to pool in your yard is a recipe for mosquito breeding. Take a look at ways to naturally control mosquitos while taking on this large project.

When Do I Call A Professional

Hiring a professional landscaper to come out and complete the project of sloping your yard to a higher gradient is a great idea. Attempting to bring in fill dirt and topsoil to move around your yard and spread from your foundation to the low point away from your foundation can be tricky. A professional can build soil around a house foundation and do it the correct way.

If you don’t know how to compact and till your soil, you could end up causing more damage in the long run, than a solution to a problem. The time it would take you to change the slope of your yard could be very costly to you. Soil grading can be tricky so it is always best to get multiple quotes and let the professionals handle the task for you.


Deciding if it is necessary to increase the slope of your yard can be difficult. You might see a drainage issue around your foundation, or even exposed foundation walls that you will want to protect. If either of these scenarios arises, it is a great idea to reach out to your local home inspection company. You will want ideas and ways to fix the yard and build soil around the house foundation, without causing damage to your home. Call Waypoint Property Inspection to inspect your home in Tampa, St. Petersburg, Lakeland, Orlando, Palm Beach, Ft. Lauderdale, and surrounding areas.