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pfisch 03-07-2010 10:07 PM

Garage siding too low (at grade), plus drainage problem
1 Attachment(s)
I need to raise the grading along the back of my house about 6 inches or so to improve my drainage, but I've got two obstacles (at least) to overcome.

First, the sills of my basement windows are only an inch or two above the existing grade.

Second, the siding on my attached garage is barely above grade. From inside the garage, it looks like everything was built on a slab.

Does anyone have any ideas on how to properly handle either of these situations?

A photo is attached. The garage is on the left, and there are two basement windows (one is hidden behind weeds).

Attachment 18425

For reference, the house was built in 1945 and is in MA.

Thanks in advance.

meboatermike 03-07-2010 10:29 PM

A simple solution to the basement windows (as long as you do not have finished living area down there and need egress windows) would be to install window wells. Of course these come with their own set of issues but some of these can be got around. That would allow you to grade up the land around your house for better slope.

The garage being so close to this area however adds to the complexity of your grade solution. I suppose you could somehow support the garage and replace the lower couple feet of garage with concrete somehow but this will be complicated and undoubtedly not inexpensive. :eek:

william duffer 03-07-2010 10:39 PM

You can use a window well around the windows. And I cant tell what kind of foundation the garage has. If it like what you said I would build a retaining wall around the garage maybe three feet or so away. Basically making a walkway around the garage. I am assuming you will need a permit for this so I would check to see what is required and bring in the pros to get you started in the right direction.

Bondo 03-08-2010 06:51 AM

Ayuh,... Instead of Raising the whole yard,...
Just Lower the grade where needed to provide Drainage...

pfisch 03-08-2010 11:03 AM

Thanks for the responses! I think these are all good ideas...not as simple as I had hoped, but I didn't really expect good news.

Lowering the grade of the whole yard will be fairly difficult, and probably wouldn't be popular with my neighbors. Creating a walkway around the edge of the garage is an interesting thought. I actually wanted to put in a walk at some point. Do you think I'd need to install a french drain or something similar to handle the water within that area?

The whole house will need to be resided probably within the next 3 to 4 years. Would your opinion on any of this change if you knew that siding had to come off anyway?

Thanks again.

Scuba_Dave 03-08-2010 11:07 AM

You need 8" between the dirt & the wood walls
I prefer to have 12"

Less distance is an invitation for termites, ants & other bugs to enter your house

Frostbite 03-08-2010 12:36 PM

3rd vote on the retaining wall, you can't have soil bearing on a wood stud wall not designed to retain earth. French drain is probably your cheaper option, how much water are you looking to divert any how?

pfisch 03-08-2010 01:17 PM

The drainage isn't terrible. The yard is very flat. In the 4 years that I've owned the house, we've had some monster rain storms which have resulted in a wet basement one time (and that's one too many). The goal is to eventually have a patio in the back of the house, and I'll obviously need to slope it away from the house...thus to need to raise the grade around the foundation. The idea of using a retaining wall along the garage is attractive since it could actually double as a sitting wall. The concern would be that I'd leave myself vulnerable to water collecting in the corner where the house and garage meet.

Scuba_Dave 03-08-2010 01:26 PM

Patio as in stone ?
Having that near the wood wall is not a problem

If you are will do the entire area from corner out then I would just wait & slope the patio
At the furthest side from the house have a french drain dug that goes around to the sitting wall near the garage
That way water will be drained away from the house

Is there anywhere on your property where the ground is lower ?

william duffer 03-08-2010 02:35 PM

Way to throw a kink in the cog. If you go with the retaining wall you would probably want to put a concrete walkway. You can make the walkway slightly concave to pitch away from the garage and the wall. And than pitch it away from the house. And no it doesn't change my thought about the wall if you are going to replace the siding. The wall is to give you a barrier so that you can raise your grade. Otherwise you will need to put a footer around the garage. So I would say your options are the footer or the wall IMO.

pfisch 03-08-2010 06:25 PM

The grade in the front of the house slopes down toward the street. Any drain line would have to go around the side of the house or possibly to a dry well in the back yard. I think at this point I'll be excavating the entire yard! Good stuff.

Thanks everyone.

Gary in WA 03-08-2010 07:31 PM

2. All wood framing members that rest on concrete or masonry exterior foundation walls and are less than 8 inches (203 mm) from the exposed ground.
3. Sills and sleepers on a concrete or masonry slab that is in direct contact with the ground unless separated from such slab by an impervious moisture barrier.
4. The ends of wood girders entering exterior masonry or concrete walls having
clearances of less than 0.5 inch (12.7 mm) on tops, sides and ends.
5. Wood siding, sheathing and wall framing on the exterior of a building having a clearance of less than 6 inches (152 mm) from the ground. R- 319.1

You could just use approved type of treated wood as a belly band or skirt trim board around the bottom of the siding. Or stucco banding which can have a 2” clearance to the pavement walkway.

Check with your local B.D., as they may have their own “amended codes”:

Be safe, Gary

Bondo 03-09-2010 11:04 AM


Lowering the grade of the whole yard will be fairly difficult, and probably wouldn't be popular with my neighbors.
Ayuh,... No reason to lower the grade of the Whole Lot,...
Just dig slight depressions, Swales, leading the water Away from where you don't want it....

Joe Carola 03-10-2010 05:23 PM


This is a common problem. Support your walls and cut the bottom of the studs out and install block high enough so that your siding is about 8" above grade. This is done all the time in your situation from an experienced carpenter. If you know someone who can help you do this, that is your best bet. No need for a retaining wall when doing this.

Frostbite 03-10-2010 10:41 PM

This is the type of situation where several different plan of actions would probably achieve similar result. Which option you should take really depends on the expertise and resources of your contractor. I would choose two options and have several contractor price out each and see which one end up being more cost effective.

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