New Construction Downspouts and Drainage

I am a newer inspector and will be inspecting my first new construction home and I am trying to prepare. The client sent me a picture of the home and I noticed that the down spouts don’t terminate underground as I have seen in many new constructions. They also don’t appear to slope away from the house (see pic).

I plan on at least noting the downspouts should terminate and extend away from the home, but is it a code requirement for new construction that they terminate underground?

Also, can anyone point me in the right direction for code on this? The home is located about 40 minutes north of Seattle, WA. I found this link and I assume it’s accurate?

Hey Lee,

I’m in PNW as well. In my experience the rural properties which this one appears to be probably doesn’t have the public storm water system to connect to anyways. I would just note that they terminate too closely to the house and recommend installation of splash-blocks or extensions.


For starters, you need to figure out what (if any) building codes have been adopted by the building department where the property is located. Could be any number of possibilities, but that’s a first step.

Then you need to decide what method of reporting defects you will be using. If this is a new construction build, to what standard is your inspection based?
You can report on defects that are not compliant with applicable codes; not done to industry standards; not done to the manufacturer’s specifications, etc. etc.

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Report what you see. Don’t get bogged down in a code check.


I generally don’t inspect new construction. In Maryland every new house has a One Year warranty by law. I tell the client I will inspect at 11 months after the house has settled and everything has been run. That way I can include any of their observations, annoying nail pops and stair squeaks as well as building omissions or defects before the one year warranty expires.
Most clients like that approach and call me at the 11 month interval.

It’s extremely likely that the backfill around your new house has not completely settled and will soak up downspout rain like a sponge. Hoses are a good idea for downspouts that don’t drain onto paved surfaces. You should also note those downspouts that will contribute to icing and falls on footpaths to and from the entry.


Thanks for all the tips.

Glad to know my thinking is going in the right direction. Definitely don’t want to get bogged down in codes.

We hardly ever see the downspouts tied into the storms here. I do not understand the norm of having the one downspout discharge onto the driveway. It seems like with the current design most new homes, you see it. Typically because of the bonus garage.

I always call it out as a slip hazard for the cold months. Half the time, I get a call from the agent or builder pissed off that it is impossible to correct.

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Every new construction goes through all rough and final inspections. Even before any field inspections the plans are prepared by licensed architect or engineer, then they are being reviewed/approved by plans examiner, then the contractor can start digging. I think the the new construction inspection makes more sense if done in multiple different stages of construction and not as the final look at the finished product. Too many important things are already covered.

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Up here in Ontario Canada many years ago they used to terminate to the storm sewer then it became an environmental issue and it wasn’t allowed anymore. We lay a splash pad under the down pipe on the finish grade to direct the water away from the foundation.

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Lee - What Patrick said is pretty much spot on. I am in the PNW as well. The builder has passed all of the codes to get a certificate of occupancy, so do not use that verbiage. Just recommend to get the downspouts connected to drainage to attempt to get water away from the foundation. It will pay them dividends in the long run with our winters.
And that pic looks like a cement based siding. Get familiar with install guidelines (paint on bottom starter strip and cut edges, proper clearances from flashings, caulked corners and all the good stuff!) It will become much more natural over time!

All good replies. It’s important to remember that we are not code inspectors. In fact, here in Virginia, it’s against Virginia regulations. We don’t even mention that something is against code verbally or in our written reports. The state and local AHJ (authority having jurisdiction) is responsible for code inspections—not home inspectors. However, we have to be up with local code requirements. There are many phrases as already mentioned that you can use that don’t mention code.