I just did a one-year warranty inspection for house in Gilbert. The owner of the house mentioned that the rear yard flooded this last summer with all the heavy rains we had. Here in the valley and in many parts of the southwest we fence off our rear yards with block walls. The rear yards are typically graded to allow the rain water to drain around the sides of the house and into the front yard and street. When the builder built this house they installed the drainage block (a concrete block with holes in it for drainage) mostly below the ground. After adding a couple inches of landscaping rocks the drainage block is completely covered. This was obviously the reason why she had flooding in the rear yard last summer; water is only been able to drain through a couple inches of rock.
Having water drained away from the foundation is particularly important on this house for two reasons. The first reason is that house is built in Gilbert Arizona which has expansive soil. Expansive soil is a type of soil that expands and contracts based on moisture. The second reason is the house was built on a post-tension slab. Post tension slabs do not have that typical foundation wall and footing below the ground. It appears rain water may have seeped below the foundation causing the soil to expand after the heavy rains. And as the ground dried the soil contracted back to its original location. This would explain all the settling cracks observed in the drywall around the exterior windows.
The good news is the drainage issue on this house is easily resolved. Adding additional drainage blocks is relatively easy and inexpensive. The other good news is this home owner called me for a professional home inspection prior to her one year warranty inspection from the builder. The builder may have indicated the cracks around the window as “typical settling”. Not only was I able to document this issue and request the builder review and repair as needed, she also now had written documentation with pictures in case the walls around the windows continue to crack indicating a possible structural issue. Most builders cover structural issues up to 10 years, but will only take care of “typical cracking” during the first year.