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quibbs2013

Brick ledge error

quibbs2013
9 days ago

Greetings.


Without going into a long back story, here is our problem...


Custom home, foundations are poured, joists are down, walls and roof are framed and covered in plywood. The house is a mix of crawl spaces and a basement. Over the basement is a "wing". Because of miscommunication and/or disorganization the poured wall brick ledges are too low, and will expose too much brick. Or perhaps the joists should have been hung on hangers instead of on the top of the poured wall...(shrug)

We have ordered big custom windows that were specially purchased to give the almost "ceiling to floor look". On the exterior these windows were suppose to stop (guessing here, about 8"-10" before the ground). Now they will probably (still guessing) be at least 2' higher on the exterior making the house/windows look too far above the ground.

The exterior will now look spatially and proportionally wrong as compared to what we wanted.


Does anyone know if there is a way to rectify this error without tearing it all down and starting over?

I am not positive but I believe we really cant just push the dirt up past the brick ledge. To get to the correct height with the dirt we would have to go up a good bit past the top of the poured wall which I think isn't what you want to do. Not sure, hoping against hope to have other options.


Thank you for your time.






Comments (57)

  • PRO
    Joseph Corlett, LLC
    9 days ago

    quibbs2013:


    Please do a dimensioned sectional drawing so we can see what you're talking about.

  • quibbs2013
    Original Author
    9 days ago
    last modified: 9 days ago

    "No one can understand the issue from your description, especially since you don't seem to understand the problem either."

    Serious query, where is the ambiguity in my post?

    I know the desired look we wanted, we cannot achieve it because, as currently built it appears the house will be around 16'' higher than desired. Why? Because somewhere the plans changed and the poured walls were done in such a fashion there is too much brick exposed. This will increase the height from the bottom of the windows, add additional steps to all the porches, etc. From my understanding we cannot simply raise the dirt up the exterior veneer (brick in this case). We'll perhaps we could in theory, but is it advisable (from what I have read it is not).

    I was wondering if anyone had any experience dealing with this type of issue and if so, how it was handled.


    Not sure how I could be any more clear.

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  • JJ
    9 days ago

    I have no way to visualize what you are talking about. However, our topographical survey was off by a foot or so which resulted in the back of the house being elevated. The builder contacted the architect and they figured it out. It does look different than the original velevation, and resulted in us having to add more cable railing around the deck. The one part of the living room we cantilevered and it looks like it might have been intentional. Anyways...

  • LH CO/FL
    9 days ago

    I'm not clear why you can't add more dirt.

  • quibbs2013
    Original Author
    9 days ago

    My understanding is the brick ledge on the poured wall is where the moisture goes in the gap between the back of the brick veneer and exterior house wrap/exterior sheathing. I also believe that it could eventually erode any bricks below grade.


  • quibbs2013
    Original Author
    9 days ago


    Hope this helps clear up what I am asking. If we could raise the dirt close to the desired level it would impact the single door on the right, but the yard was pitched to accommodate that in the last set of plans I received.

  • PRO
    Mark Bischak, Architect
    9 days ago

    "Serious query, where is the ambiguity in my post?"

    It starts with "Greetings" and ends with "Thank you for your time". Your architect knows a myriad more information pertinent to the issue and project than anyone else, and your solution should come from someone that knows all the facts and ramifications. We here do not even know what the house looks like or its style.


    "I was wondering if anyone had any experience dealing with this type of issue and if so, how it was handled."

    I have a ton of experience solving problems that arise during construction, but every project is different; and your architect is the one to come up with a solution.

  • quibbs2013
    Original Author
    9 days ago
    last modified: 9 days ago

    Mr.Bischak,

    Of course you are correct that the real answer will come from our architect. But in the interim I was trying to see if there was anyone who could relate until I could speak with him.

    If the post leaves too many details out, sorry that the post was so ambiguous. I wasn't necessarily expecting architects or contractors to weigh in, though it would be nice. I figured I would post the issue and if someone had something to offer they would reply.

    It is, apparently, beyond my ability to communicate the situation in a comprehensive way. Though, I'd much prefer no one reply if the main gist was to critique the post.

    Your first post was straight forward and left no question what your advice was, and I do appreciate your opinion. A couple of others weighed in relating their experiences, and I appreciated that. Then there was the post from 'PPF' that basically said "we cant help you with a problem you don't understand yourself". That doesn't come off very pleasant. Why even reply if he cannot offer anything positive?

    Regardless, this posting ended up being far more complicated and somewhat more unpleasant than anticipated(not attributing that to you).

  • LH CO/FL
    9 days ago

    Seeing your picture helps a lot. Very different from our situation, since our stem walls just appear to be higher, and we can mound the dirt up. You might do something just to cosmetically raise the grade -- stacking boulders/rocks/stones, etc. will give the illusion near the windows.


    quibbs2013 thanked LH CO/FL
  • doc5md
    9 days ago

    So, if i have this right based on your picture…. the issue is that you wanted the dirt much higher than the grade as it is. It seems to me this is a design issue. Even if you poured taller walls, the way things are built, the windows would still be the same (too high) distance above the dirt level.

  • PRO
    PPF.
    9 days ago

    Or perhaps the joists should have been hung on hangers instead of on the top of the poured wall...(shrug)


    From your picture, that's probably correct -- on hangers or a ledge.


    Work with your architect and builder to find a solution, although the solution might be to live with it.


    Your construction drawings should clearly show this detail, and simply looking in the basement would have made it clear what the problem is.


    Are you able to visit the jobsite on a regular basis? A problem like this should have been obvious long before now.

    quibbs2013 thanked PPF.
  • quibbs2013
    Original Author
    9 days ago
    last modified: 9 days ago

    From your picture, that's probably correct -- on hangers or a ledge.

    Work with your architect and builder to find a solution, although the solution might be to live with it.

    Your construction drawings should clearly show this detail, and simply looking in the basement would have made it clear what the problem is.

    Are you able to visit the jobsite on a regular basis? A problem like this should have been obvious long before now.

    I do visit the site somewhat regularly. Unfortunately I was so obsessed about other details I just didn't pay enough attention to the foundation. Eventually something didn't seem right. I thought about it and did some research and then the panic began to set in. My plans show that same elevation the way I want it, but further in the blueprints it shows the brick ledge and grade as is now, contradicting the page with that elevation. I had discussed what I wanted with the architect but I do not think those made it to the blueprints the contractor received in a cohesive plan. Apparently I do not have the same plan the builder is using.

    Regardless, we spent years dreaming about this and even if this seems minor in the scheme of things to most, it isn't to me. Here's hoping to a fix we can live with...

    Thank you for the reply.

  • worthy
    8 days ago
    last modified: 8 days ago

    or a ledge

    Like this detail below.





    Getting these details right is not the responsibility of the client when they've hired an architect and general contractor to turn the plans into reality.

    quibbs2013 thanked worthy
  • JJ
    8 days ago

    Looks like it is floating! Put led's under the lip and go with it. (Just kidding.)


    Cool looking so far. Would be interesting to see the solution.

  • PRO
    Joseph Corlett, LLC
    8 days ago

    You're going to landscape your way out of this one, I promise.

  • PRO
    RES2
    7 days ago
    last modified: 7 days ago

    It's not a "brick ledge error".

    If you wanted the window sills to be close to the final grade, that option was lost when the foundation wall was poured to the bottom of the sole plate supporting the floor joists. Worthy posted the detail that should have been used.

    The grade must be held 6" or 8" (depending on the jurisdiction) below any wood that is not pressure preservative treated. I assume that would be the bottom edge of the plywood sheathing so you can only raise the grade about 4 or 6" (judging from the photo). Be sure to locate the thru-wall cavity flashing above final grade.

    Worthy is also correct to recommend that you wait for the responsible parties to propose a solution then you can ask us if its accepatble. Don't confuse or usurp the roles of the responsible parties. I agree it will probbably be some free planting.

    By the way, it appears there will be no gutters. If that's the case, to avoid unsightly splash-back, the windows should not be close to the final grade. Be sure there's adequate gravel/crushed stone and subsurface drainage under the drip line.

    quibbs2013 thanked RES2
  • PRO
    Mark Bischak, Architect
    7 days ago

    "Don't confuse or usurp the roles of the responsible parties."

    Advice worth repeating.

  • PRO
    RES2
    7 days ago

    I'm curious to see the original contract elevation drawings. If an architect was involved, there might also be an exterior wall section.

  • quibbs2013
    Original Author
    7 days ago
    last modified: 7 days ago

    The grade must be held 6" or 8" (depending on the jurisdiction) below any wood that is not pressure preservative treated. I assume that would be the bottom edge of the plywood sheathing so you can only raise the grade about 4 or 6" (judging from the photo). Be sure to locate the thru-wall cavity flashing above final grade.

    Not sure if this changes anything but all lower exterior sheathing is treated plywood. Even though the house isn't being built on the coast, it's being constructed as if it were.

    By the way, it appears there will be no gutters. If that's the case, to avoid unsightly splash-back, the windows should not be close to the final grade. Be sure there's adequate gravel/crushed stone and subsurface drainage under the drip line.

    I agree about the splash back being a worry, luckily there will be copper gutters all around.

    I have spoken to the architect and they are working on a way to address the issue. I will post back once there is a proposed plan.


    Thank you for the input.

  • PRO
    Charles Ross Homes
    7 days ago

    Keep in mind that the perimeter of the home will need to be graded to have 6 inches of fall in the first 10 ft to meet code requirements.

    quibbs2013 thanked Charles Ross Homes
  • millworkman
    7 days ago

    Just as an aside pressure treated plywood means it will not rot, it will still delaminate if it gets wet repeatedly.

    quibbs2013 thanked millworkman
  • quibbs2013
    Original Author
    6 days ago

    Update: Architect is suggesting putting Durock over the exterior plywood for a good surface to apply waterproofing (Drylok or Redguard). The Durock would go up to the point where our flashing & weeps will be. Then they would grout solid behind the brick that is below grade and waterproof the outside of the brick below grade. They will go over this idea with our contractor.

  • PRO
    Verbo
    6 days ago

    That halfass kludge is NOT a solution. None of those materials are meant to be used like that. Someone doesn't understand a proper drainage plane. Which is scary.

  • quibbs2013
    Original Author
    6 days ago
    last modified: 6 days ago

    I do not think that was the solution the contractor was thinking, but I haven't heard their proposal yet.

    If it is as you say (I am not qualified to know the best answer), then is there a way to properly waterproof the below grade bricks, get the flashing/weeps above grade and protect the exterior sheathing/walls to allow the grade to be higher? Other than tearing it all down to the poured walls or just hiding the issue with plants?

  • worthy
    6 days ago
    last modified: 5 days ago

    You might want to run this unique design by your local building department for their viewpoint. (Sounds meshuga to me.)

    For this section of the wall, you're switching from conventional wood framing on a concrete foundation to a combination of wood framing, brick veneer and poured concrete. Wood, properly speced and treated can of course be used for house foundations.



    As can 2 whyte structural brick, even though that method was replaced by block and poured concrete more than a century ago. (I've owned a number of 19th C. brick foundation homes.)

    quibbs2013 thanked worthy
  • PRO
    RES2
    5 days ago
    last modified: 5 days ago

    IMO the best source for waterproofing materials and detailing is GCP Applied Technologies (formerly Grace). Procor 20 (trowel) and 75 (spray) is their liquid applied elastomeric waterproofing which meets ASTM C-836 and can be applied to concrete and wood creating a tough 60 mil (1/16") flexible membrane. For difficult waterproofing conditions ask your architect to consult with GCP.

    quibbs2013 thanked RES2
  • Mrs. S
    5 days ago
    last modified: 5 days ago

    I am in no way qualified to answer a question about waterproofing foundations, but I know that you can't rely on treated plywood to keep out moisture, and that won't help your drainage.

    Maybe you can have them pay for new windows and re-worked framing to support the new windows, so you can get the large-window look you want.


    p.s. because everyone who reads this is going to want to know: is your architect actually an "Architect" who is qualified and licensed? Or do you have some kind of draftsman?


    p.p.s. You have some very smart and very experienced architects and construction pros answering your question. If you've been on these boards long enough, you should be listening to them and thanking them. Look them up, if you like.

  • PRO
    RES2
    5 days ago

    The IRC (if that code applies) doesn't make an exception for waterproofing of non treated wood within 6" (or 8") of the ground so you'll need the local building official to approve the design.


  • PRO
    RES2
    5 days ago

    Drylok Extreme is a below grade one component latex based brush applied waterproofing masonry wall paint that is about 60% solids so the recommended applied wet thickness of 13 to 21 mils should dry to about 8 to 13 mils.

    Procor 20 (trowel) or Procor 75 (spray) is a two component, cold vulcanized, synthetic rubber for below grade walls. The recommended applied wet thickness of 60 mils will cure to 60 mils forming a resilient, monolithic, fully bonded elastomeric sheet.

    Redguard is an above grade waterproofing substrate for tile work.

    quibbs2013 thanked RES2
  • quibbs2013
    Original Author
    5 days ago
    last modified: 5 days ago

    because everyone who reads this is going to want to know: is your architect actually an "Architect" who is qualified and licensed? Or do you have some kind of draftsman?

    Full fledged Architect with decades of designing high end homes in our area.

    He has been out of town and the proposed fix was done by someone in their firm.

  • PRO
    RES2
    5 days ago
    last modified: 5 days ago

    I spent 30 years designing hotels, college dormitories and adaptive reuse of large brick mill buildings. We used waterproofing consultants and companies like GCP (when it was WR Grace).

    This is not an issue even an experieced residential architect or contractor is likely to have dealt with before so its necessary to consult with experts but before doing that your architect needs to draw a wall section to scale showing the existing conditions and the proposed new grade.

    The solution will be a compliance alternative under the IRC (if it applies) section R104.11 "Alternative Materials, Design and Methods of Construction and Equipment" so the buidng official will probably ask for a drawing and a written specification stamped by your architect.

    I might be able to help you but not without a scaled existing condition section drawing and soil, grading and climate information.

  • quibbs2013
    Original Author
    5 days ago

    I appreciate you weighing in with your experience. I'll see what I can post that may help you get a more detailed understanding of our specific situation. Thank you.

  • PRO
    RES2
    4 days ago
    last modified: 3 days ago

    So, what part of the lower wood framing is not pressure preservative treated? Anything treated can be below grade. You can even build a house with an all wood basement foundation although I don't recommend it.

  • quibbs2013
    Original Author
    4 days ago
    last modified: 3 days ago

    Lower exterior sheathing is, sole plate is, honestly I am not sure about the floor joists, Ill have to ask builder. Above the floor joists is Advantech subflooring and then the framing for the walls (which are not treated). But obviously the wall framing and subflooring is above any grade.

    Other basic info: 12" poured walls around the basement with double french drains around the footers, waterproofing coat on exterior of poured walls with a weep system. Where there isn't a poured wall then it is cinder block. The cinder block has a waterproof coat and weep system as well.

    To get the grade where we want it would require us to go up around 12" (or so). Some of that is from the brick ledge to the top of the poured wall, the remainder would go over some of the lower exterior sheathing area.

  • quibbs2013
    Original Author
    3 days ago
    last modified: 3 days ago

    Does anyone else find it difficult to communicate with an OP that has an avatar that looks like someone in a teddy bear costume?

    Well, I generally do not post on forums and just used this avatar for a Houzz account that was created mainly to save house/design ideas.


    Bungles is actually a person in a bear suit from an old British children's show.


    If it helps, you could pretend I'm Beary Bonds

  • mainenell
    3 days ago

    I totally ignore avatars.

  • PRO
    RES2
    3 days ago
    last modified: 3 days ago

    Are you saying this isn't creepy?


  • PRO
    Mark Bischak, Architect
    3 days ago

    That is an image of an oil painting of me drawing at my drafting table late at night in my den. The original painting is hanging in Texas somewhere. I have since sold the house but it was fun watching the flying squirrels come to the bird feeder in the middle of the night out the picture window that spanned the length of the room. Here is the original:


    I was thinking of changing my avatar:


  • PRO
    RES2
    3 days ago

    You have a parrallel rule? You must be very old.

  • PRO
    Mark Bischak, Architect
    3 days ago

    It is premature grey hair.

  • worthy
    3 days ago

    Talk about topic drift!

  • PRO
    Mark Bischak, Architect
    3 days ago

    I should have mentioned my house was brick.

  • PRO
    RES2
    3 days ago
    last modified: 3 days ago

    After designing many large expensive brick buildings, when I began to design houses full time, I had to refuse to do brick because home builders would not pay attention to my details and had no knowledge of industry standards.

    Its a lot easier to fix errors when using siding but I was surprised how many site visits were necessary and I quickly learned to arrive early.

    Happy to be done with all that.

  • suezbell
    3 days ago
    last modified: 3 days ago


    Haven't read through all the comments but from your post and your pic, just some thoughts:.


    If the issue is just that you want the windows to visually (from the exterior view) go nearly all the way from floor to ceiling then remove the siding beneath floor level and create a "foundation" up to that level either by facing the area beneath the windows with stone or brick or, preferably, by adding a full width front porch on the (?left?) side/wing where there is a visual issue as to the perceived height of the windows.

  • suezbell
    3 days ago

    Mark Bischak, Architect: Dressing up as a rabbit for Halloween?

  • worthy
    yesterday

    Maybe consider a surer fix: remove the wood and tie-in blocks to the desired height and waterproof. No uniquely dubious "solution" needed.

  • 3onthetree
    9 hours ago

    From your description, the architect's version sounds like it will work. The changes to that solution that should happen though is:

    - within the cavity: to protect the wood a self-adhered membrane instead of fluid applied (especially interior products) basically an ice & water shield

    - using Durock within the cavity: if chosen to do make sure it remains a cementious board, not something gypsum-based like Denshield that contractors like to use. Then the self-adhered membrane should go on top of this. This board is essentially just keeping the membrane off of the wood, but isn't really necessary unless you are considering future replacement of your joists and rim joist from the inside. And depending on the width of airspace (what would be the depth of the foundation ledge minus the layed brick depth) having a 1/2" Durock may interfere with the grouting solid.

    - grouted solid below grade: use CMUs, not bricks

    There are more details with this to keep track of during construction, like how the WRB overlaps, the flashing/weeps, etc but your architect seems competent enough to produce the drawing.


  • PRO
    RES2
    6 hours ago

    If your architect has not produced a detailed wall section you need to ask for one now. Descriptions are often incomplete and prone to misinterpretations.

    For a waterproofing membrane on cement board use commercial grade GPC Self-Adhered Perm-A Barrier Wall Membrane over Perm-A-Barrier WB Primer (for a truly tenacious bond) and use Perm-A-Barrier Flashing at the brick shelf.

    Have the architect review the wall sections with GPC to be safe.


    quibbs2013 thanked RES2
  • PRO
    RES2
    3 hours ago

    To be clear, Ice & Water Shield roofing underlayment and Vycor Plus window flashing from Grace are not suitable for use as below grade waterproofing nor is any brush on waterproofing paint. The successful soultion to this problem requires professional consultation if you want it to work.

    quibbs2013 thanked RES2
  • quibbs2013
    Original Author
    1 hour ago

    Thank you to all that have weighed in.


    We are now awaiting a plan from the contractor/architect. My contractor said he has a very good waterproofer and would consult with that company and get together with the architect. Once I get a formal plan, I'll share the details.