Trouble understanding when brick should be elevated from the ground

Disclaimer: I’m a home inspection student at present and working my way through training and education.

So, I’m having trouble distinguishing between brick veneer siding that should be elevated from the ground and structural brick that can be in direct contact with soil. I’ve been trying to review my notes and can’t find anything.

Can anyone help? Please correct me on anything I’m mistaken about as well.

Here is an image that I’m wondering about, as an example.

Thank you.

I can see that the roof has a decent overhang and no gutters.


The dead giveaway for structural (full) brick is header bricks. When you look at the brick pattern most of the bricks are laid horizontally, these are called ‘stretchers.’ In a full brick wall there is another brick wall behind the one you see. Header bricks show only the end of the brick as they are laid across the two walls to join them. In a “common bond” wall you will see a whole row of headers every six courses of brick. In a brick veneer wall there are no header bricks.


What Bob said!
As far as the second part of your question, I always commented on any brick and soil contact in my area. Brick will absorb moisture from the soil. If you are in a climate that experiences freeze thaw cycles the moisture that freezes in the brick may cause spalling.



Like mentioned above, if you don’t see any headers, it is most likely a veneer, but don’t be fooled, some veneers simulate bearing brick composite walls.
And in your picture, no weep holes or flashing above grade is visible.
All brick below grade usually are solid brick with a full collar joint to keep water out.

Most any of your questions can be answered by reading these notes here.


Tap on it!

1 Like

Marcel, that is a very informative read link! How did you dig it up? :slight_smile:

1 Like

Had it for quite a few years Simon. We always did our own Masonry as a General Contractor, my Boss that is, so knowing what is recommended always helped. The original owner of the Company used to be a Mason Contractor, I joined him when he went General Contractor in 1975. One of the Sons runs it now along with his Brother and his Son.
There used to be only 20 Technical Notes. They’ve added quite a few over the years.

Another great addition to my library. Thanks Marcel!

Here is one more if anyone is interested.
Shows different masonry details galore.

1 Like

That is a great link. I can’t believe I never ran across this. Thanks for posting it. And for our OP, I see some articles that should answer all his questions.

You’re welcome and I hope it helps many.

Industry association are usually good sources of information. In addition to various online resources like white papers, tech bulletins, etc., some have live tech support that will answer questions via phone.