My case study on clearance issues

In this house, the sidewalk was poured above the top of the foundation/sill plate and the siding was embedded. This creates moisture problems and a path for termites. In the photos, you will see the sidewalk poured too high, the embedded siding and the interior termite damage along the wall adjacent to the sidewalk.


Good observation, Brian!

Way to inspect!


Thanks, I was just going thru a few old inspection photos. I think I might post a few “If you see this then look for that” kind of issues.


Minus the termites my very first inspection was just a porch that had that same issue. Nice job noticing!

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Brian, so how did you (or would you today) write it up?

They are two different things. One is exterior cladding clearance issue. Second is an interior wall issue. |

Exterior. Front of the home, the lower course of siding was in contact with or embedded behind the concrete sidewalk. This may promote moisture wicking and wood destroying insects. A minimum one inch clearance is recommended. Recommend correction by a qualified contractor.

Interior: Right side garage, evidence of wood destroying insects observed such as termite tubes, tunnels and damage. Further damage may occur and concealed damage is possible. Recommend evaluation for treatment by a qualified pest control contractor. Recommend remove and replace all damaged materials by a qualified contractor.


A water proof membrane/coating and/or galvanized flashing should have been installed between the slab and wall, then a thin bead of caulk to keep water from getting between concrete and siding.
Years ago I when I would have a flatwork job that was like this and didn’t have a roof, I would spray the siding with automotive undercoat. Worked great.

I disagree. Siding, sheathing and sill plates should never be below grade. Poor design or install, doesn’t matter.


If the siding and framing is below grade, it doesn’t really matter what flashing was put there, and by the standards of american construction… that is the average construction worker in america, you can’t depend on them to do anything like installing a membrane in a way that would actually keep water out anyway.

The idea for being “above” grade is that the water will drip out and away, if it is below grade the water will sit there and work its way inside

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I totally agree with that Brian. In a perfect world, all homes would be built that way, but unfortunately it’s not the case, so if preventative measures are correctly taken, one can delay the inevitable for quite some time. Sad thing is alot of contractors don’t care enough to do things correctly anyway.

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but the customer is coming to us for a reason. it’s like going to a tire shop with a flat tire and they recommend adding some of that inflatable sealant instead of fixing or replacing the tire

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Nice, And Yes You Are Right–It’s crazy how concrete contractors perform and design sometimes. Not only siding being below grade, there are more to the problem

  • Not being isolated from the structure with expansion materials
  • Yes 6" clearance from the nearest wood member is the code–could be wrong on that one
  • Also we see this with brick as well–not being isolated and plus covering up the WEEP Holes of the brick’s layout, not good, now your trapping water as well

I perform repairs all the time and the Rim Joist seems to get hammered on pretty bad.

Why do Contractors do this or Home Owners? Save Money and not worry about the future of the structure. Not wanting to do the correct regrading, most of the time, as you would know, the grading is flat and or Neg.fall toward the home, so therefore, pour the concrete higher, lol, and there you go.

anyway, my thoughts,

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Any decent contractor could see this flaw…I’m a plumber and would actually advise the customer on the issue…I promise you the first person they’re calling is me about a possible leak!!!..this is obvious but also great for a potential homebuyer if the home inspector makes note of these things, informing the buyer, prior to signing, like Brian did. :+1: