We're going to be closing on an old house built in 1910 in a few weeks, and I'd like to do as much as I can to limit the amount of water seeping into the basement. The basement only houses the mechanicals, and because of the state its in (low ceilings, damp, musty) I can't see it being used for much more, so I'm not looking to waterproof anything. I've been told by a couple of people that regrading around the foundation will help, and as a theory, it is obvious why that will help. However, I'm curious as to how this usually gets accomplished. Would I add fill around the house to create the slope away from the foundation and add taller window wells, or remove material a few feet out from the foundation to create the slope? Seems like if you remove the material you'll just have a little valley that will collect water even worse than before, even if it's further away from the house. Also, what is an acceptable slope for water runoff?
I'd really like to accomplish better drainage with some landscaping work, I don't want to install french drains and have another set of headaches. I'm pretty much resigned to the fact that yes, every now and then the sump pump in the basement will have to work, but I'd like to cut that down to as little as possible.