Concrete foundation walls should extend higher than the finished grade level (concrete patios, sidewalks and landscaping improvements) adjacent to the foundation wall at all points. There are industry recognized preferable minimum finishing heights to be achieved in relation to framing, cladding and siding components to protect the structure from weather related deterioration, water intrusion, “splash back” of rain water, and pest infestations. Where wood siding is installed, the generally accepted height above finished grade height is a minimum of 6 to 8 inches (152 to 203 mm) above the finished grade level. When fiber cement siding products are installed, we are looking at a 3” height above finished grade, be careful on new installs as improperly installed siding can null some manufacturers warranty’s.
In the case of this home, the majority of the concrete sidewalk is installed against the wooden exterior siding material and above the foundation wall. This can cause adverse conditions. This condition potentially allows for moisture accumulation and passive entry into the wooden structural components. Weather related deterioration was observed on the exterior siding at grade level. The internal portions of the exterior perimeter walls were concealed. In cases like this, improper grading can be an invitation to insect activity.
Grading is one of the first things that a home inspector looks for and identifying poor grading can lead to problems at the house. I know this sounds very basic, and it is, but I inspect a high percentage of houses that has poor grading at the exterior. This means that the ground slopes toward the building or allows water to pond next to the building, rather than away. The fix for improper grading is to change the landscaping, and in most cases doing it right from the beginning.
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