Our family is considering purchasing a house that has a downward sloping driveway and were hoping someone could help us fully understand what the potential issues of a house like that might be and could provide advice on questions to ask to ensure we don't buy something we're unhappy with. This is our family's first home purchase, so we're obviously a little nervous about it.
The house is a one story ranch with the garage in the basement of the house. The driveway starts at ground level at the street, is level for about 5 feet (the sidewalk), and slopes downward towards the basement of the house into the garage. The length of the driveway is probably 25 feet long. It drops from ground level to basement level over that distance.
I know there are drains at the bottom of the driveway. There are also holes along the driveway sidewall, which I assume those are connected to drains under the yard. We didn't observe any water damage in the basement, but will obviously get a formal home inspection to confirm that.
This house is located in the Boston area where there is a reasonable amount of snow. We currently don't have a 4WD and are hoping we don't need to buy one.
I'd be leary of the wooden garage doors, the amount of water that does come into the garage (evidenced by the water stains on the floor) and the wood trim losing it's paint, starting at the bottom. As far as snow, back in when you park and just floor it to get out.
I'd want to know where the drains at the base of the driveway go. If into sump pit, that pump will need regular maintenance and replacement probably every 4-6 years. I'd also want a backup in the case of a pump failure or power outage.
Also, as was mentioned the water stains are a little troublesome. It indicates that either the drains don't work , or the grade is not sufficient to direct the flow into them without it coming into the garage.
You can see by the damage at the base of the doors that they likely have snow standing against them in the winter--this is also a long term maintenance issue.
It looks as if the drain and concrete in front of the doors was recently replaced--the owners should be able to tell you more about this.
Christopher Wright, CR - WrightWorks, LLC - Named to the 2010 REMODELING Big50
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In my opinion, there is no way that fast moving water is not going to get past the grate/drain and get into the garage unless you spend time to make sure the bottom 12" of the garage door is sealed when closed. Snow/ice covering the grate may also be a problem. I would also suspect that a pump would be necessary to remove water from the drain area and it may be draining into the regular sump/pump basin in the basement.