Below Grade Garage Gotcha (Part II)

You can see how we addressed the inside of the garage in Part I, but there was a lot more going on outside to resolve the below grade drainage causing problems inside our old adobe home that we’ll share here. Mainly, we still had to divert the water coming downhill toward the house from the north and west side. (You can revisit our work to first repair the interior living space that suffered from over-saturation of moisture on the west side here.) Without any professional consultation, we devised an action plan to install a triple-feature surface water defense system. Without any additional heavy equipment, a lot of on-site material was dug out, relocated, re-positioned, and thoughtfully placed for new useful purpose. We actually had a lot of compliments on the outcomes we achieved here facing the highway when all was said and done, but the real win was that the garage is now dry! Read on to see what we did…

Profile of the unfinished driveway, 36 inch drop from the crown of the road to the threshold

Part of the garage work involved installing a trench drain at the threshold of the 18-foot roll up door. This was sloped to the west side to meet a new catchment ditch dug by the contractors and lined with the rubble from the old concrete pad.

Ye old pile of rubble moved by hand several times over
Catchment ditch lined with chunks of old concrete pad – upcycle!
What the contractors left for us
No job too big for this mountain woman
All tidied up!
True perspective of being 3 feet below grade
Ben and Mark helping to tamp in the sand base for the new trench drain

After the trench drain and catchment ditch were installed, it was then a matter of properly sloping the driveway and finishing with Turfstone pavers. (Oh, and creating an additional drainage channel at the roadside to round out our triple protection system.) We got the idea of using Turfstone after seeing them installed at Florida boat ramps. The open lattice design allows water to percolate through and provides a driving surface with good traction. We hadn’t seen this used in Northern New Mexico, but thought it would likely help to mitigate the challenge of driving on snow and ice in front of the garage door. I am so eternally grateful for Mark’s help to lay the blocks with me while Ben was out working fire. It only took a couple of days and was sort of fun working with the strongman legos.

Leveling the space for new pavers and digging yet another drainage ditch to redirect runoff
A little smile to keep the work light
Reclaimed material sifted from on-site native soil to use for gravel base
Much more subtle grade and approach to the garage
Reclaimed materials filling in roadside drainage channel
All finished out with native materials harvested and sorted onsite

On the east side wall, we started work by digging out to find the foundation in the Fall of 2022, moving all the dirt to build a berm that would close the main driveway. (See here for the making of the new driveway entering from the side street.) We did the same around to the front on the garage side facing north.

Triple defense system in place

But, wait! There’s more!! Continue on to see how we installed a new french drain and little cistern on the east side…