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Ironlight 03-08-2012 01:37 PM

Crawl space retaining wall advice needed
In the course of digging cleaning up for spring and working on some regrading to control some drainage, I pulled away some ivy against a corner of my house to discover something a bit unsettling. A mound of earth that I presumed was up against a solid wall was in fact up against dry stacked bricks that were lined up against a deteriorating lathe and stucco wall that encloses a crawl space area. Pulling the bricks up revealed that they were stacked about 6 or seven bricks deep and were on top of cinderblock. The bottom of the cinderblock is about 8"-12" below level flat grade, and 18" below the top of the mound adjacent to it.

Here is a picture of the general area as well as some details of the "excavation".

Now, the mound needs to stay as it prevents water from entering into the crawlspace are (which has a vapor barrier all around, over bare earth). I'm working on a few drainage improvements and may, along the way, create a raised flowerbed here with a retaining wall. Either way, I need to replace/repair the stucco wall so that I can grade the dirt up against it.

I have enough bricks now to build it from brick, but I'm not looking forward to building a footing for that. I was hoping someone might have some advice on the most efficient and relatively sturdy solution. How it looks is not so much of an issue as it will be concealed by either dirt or plants.

Thanks for your input.

ddawg16 03-08-2012 02:44 PM

I'm not an expert on footings so hopefully someone else will chime in....

But, regarding your stucco....The old 'established' method of stucco was to take it down below grade....that is how my house was done...., it is prefered that your stucco goes to the start of the footing where you have a weep screed and the stucco stops there. The old method was causing moisture to wick up from the ground and/or moisture that naturally comes down the wall between the stucco and tar paper and get stuck in this 'no mans land' freezing climates, it was breaking out the my house, the constant moisture and caused cracking and deteriation of the stucco in that area.

Ironlight 03-08-2012 03:32 PM

Thanks. I think this stucco part, the tan area, was added later. We believe that the area above was originally a summer porch and that is why it is on piers (brick piers at the corners).

I'm leaning towards cutting all that deteriorating stucco and lathe out and then building a new wall in that area. The primary concerns are: supporting the graded fill that will but up to it, keeping weather out, keeping varmits out. If blocking on the piers and the underside of the floor joists and then paneling with hardiboard would do it, I'd be all over that but I"m wondering if that would support the earth against it.

Ironlight 03-09-2012 07:00 AM

Anyone? I really need some help here. I have no idea what is the best way of handling thing and what is appropriate.

Marvel 03-09-2012 07:48 AM

If I read correctly the exterior grade is 18" higher than the floor of the crawl space. Is that correct?

Marvel 03-09-2012 09:05 AM

You might benefit from doing a search on Preserved Wood Foundations (PWF) or Permanent Wood Foundations.

Ironlight 03-09-2012 09:15 AM

Thanks Marvel! That is exactly what I was looking for. I don't know why but I was assuming that you could not get pressure-treated plywood and had assumed I would need to use some concrete material.

The top of the mound, or the top of whatever planting area that I construct there, will likely not be more than 10" above the level of the dirt in the crawl space, which is generally level with the retaining wall for the step leading down into the basement that you can see in the first picture.

Marvel 03-09-2012 09:22 AM

The material(s) involved are not simply standard pressure treated. You need to ensure that:
1. Local authorities accept this technique.
2. You pay special attention that the "sheathing and studs" is/are certified for this use and pay attention to type of fasteners permitted and construction practices involved.
3. You may require the services of an Engineer notwithstanding that the wall height is minimal.

Lots of reading on the Web for you on this topic.

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