Homes without Gutters 


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If you are like many homeowners, you have probably wondered why some houses have no gutters to protect against stormwater. You may have wished your own home had none because of the cleaning and maintenance issues.

Gutters are not required by law on a sloping roof. Many modern homes have none, even in instances where they would benefit from having them. There are alternatives that architects sometimes prefer such as concrete paving around the perimeter of your house.

To decide for yourself whether rainwater gutters are necessary for your home, it is best to first learn what the building regulations require.

The Building Regulations do not require roof gutters and downpipes if another suitable means of drainage has been provided to remove or disperse rainwater from the roof away from your home.

However, the Building Regulations do require that any stormwater that flows from your roof or any area that is near your home must not cause damage to the interior of the building, its structure or its structural elements. The regulations require steps to be taken to ensure that stormwater does not accumulate in a way that“unduly inconveniences” you as the occupant of your home.

Furthermore, the system used must:

  1. not undercut the foundations by erosion or flooding
  2. drain stormwater away from your home
  3. not allow stormwater to accumulate against or close to the external walls
  4. make provision for the drainage of any areas on the property where water pools
  5. be capable of being easily maintained and cleaned

This leaves you with a choice of rainwater gutters or paving of some sort around the perimeter of your home.

Which system is better?

There are occasions when the correct stormwater dispersal system is necessary to protect your home’s walls and foundation. Some of these instances are:

Ground conditions

Most populated areas of South Africa have expansive soils. These soils contain a high percentage of clay which absorbs a lot of water. This can cause the soil to expand by a tenth or more as moisture enters it during the rainy season. Expansive soils may cause the foundation, walls or floor of your home to crack.

With gutters and downpipes or paving, you can direct the stormwater a safe distance from your home to prevent damage to your foundations and home.

Stormwater on Sloping stands

If your home is on a slope, at least one side may allow water to pool along the foundation both above and below ground. Gutters on that side of the home will allow you to redirect the water towards a downward-sloping side.

In addition, a small channel along the ground will assist with any stormwater runoff from the landscaping. Again paving or gutters will do the job.

Roof overhang at the eaves

Roofs that have a two-tile overhang (600mm in the case of a metal roof) or less will allow water to pour from the roof close to the foundation (even worse in the case of double-storey homes) creating numerous problems:

  • Frequent rains will cause trenches to form where the water drops onto the surface next to your house.
  • Stormwater pooling close to the foundation and absorbed by the ground can cause extensive damage over time.
  • Stormwater pouring off the roof splashes up against the walls of your home. This can cause moisture intrusion into the walls and damage to painted and plastered finishes.
  • Windows and doors are more exposed to windblown stormwater pouring over the edge of the roof resulting in the increased possibility of moisture intrusion into your home.
  • The stormwater discharged from valleys in greater volume from the roof is problematic.

With the first two, the paved surround will do the job but fails when it comes to the last three.

However, in all five instances, gutters will provide greater protection against stormwater damage.


Although gutters require frequent cleaning and some maintenance, they do provide additional protection for your roof and your home.

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THE HOME DETECTIVE » home inspection blog » Home renovation » Stormwater

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