Stucco Siding Runs Below Grade - Options?

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Old 05-06-19, 09:45 AM
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Stucco Siding Runs Below Grade - Options?

My fiance and I purchased a new home last year. The house was built in the mid 70s, and has stucco siding around the entire house. During the home inspection the inspector mentioned that the ground (mostly woodchip mulch in flower beds around the house) should not run up next to the siding, which it currently does around the house.

In most places the siding ends at or just above the ground, and so creating a space between the siding and the ground has not been a major chore.

This is not the case along the front of the house, though, where the siding runs several inches below grade.

In each of these pictures the red line indicates roughly where the ground is:





We're not really sure what to do here. Re-grading the whole area isn't an option since there is a sidewalk in the way as well as other landscaping elements. We thought we'd be able to just dig out a narrow trench around the base of this area to create an air-gap, but that was before we realized how far down the siding goes. We'd need basically to dig down a foot and leave it open, which seems less than ideal, especially considering that the lower portions of the stucco are obviously missing (e.g. pictures 1 and 2).

As you can see in the first picture the siding extends well below the top of the foundation - I can reach up behind the siding and feel the concrete foundation as far up as I can get my hand. I'm not sure if this is true for the 3rd picture, though - these are two separate spots in the front and that third picture is the outside of the wall for our garage.

I don't know much about stucco or the what the underlying construction is. We're in northern IL. We have a basement, so the house is not sitting on a slab.

We were thinking to dig this out and back-fill with pea gravel, thinking that would be porous enough to allow water to drain down and would act as a barrier for critters getting in, but we have no idea if that's a terrible idea or not.

Any advice would be appreciated. We have considered having someone come out and look at it, but we aren't actually sure who to contact - general contractor, someone who specializes in stucco siding, etc.

Thanks
 
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Old 05-06-19, 12:10 PM
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Since your stucco doesn't have a finished bottom edge I don't know what the builder intended other than to bury the bottom of the stucco. Even if you re-grade you'll be left looking at a ragged mess at the bottom. It's not 100% proper but I'd be inclined to push the mulch back in place and go on with life. One of the biggest negatives I can think of is it is a good place for wood destroying insects to get inside but a perimeter termite treatment could take care of that.
 
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Old 05-06-19, 01:50 PM
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That is how we always did it until about the 1980's when stucco we began to terminate the stucco at a weep screed just below the sill plate. Pilot Dane is right. My house is done the same way. I check once in a while to see if anything is amiss and the termite treatment company does an annual inspection inside and out. We know better now but what was done for years seems to be working pretty well.
 
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Old 05-06-19, 01:56 PM
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What if you dug it up some, set form for a thin curb and then poured it full of concrete or mortar ... maybe a little on the soupy side.
 
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Old 05-06-19, 02:05 PM
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@tightcoat and @Pilot Dane

That makes me feel a bit better at least. Would there be any benefit with back filling with gravel instead of dirt or not worth the effort? I don't know if gravel is more of a terminate deterrent than dirt - I don't know how big of an issue termites are in our area, but I'll bring it up when our bug guy comes out next month. I was actually more concerned about water damage, since I keep reading that stucco can absorb water up through the soil, which if it has nowhere to go can cause damage.
 
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Old 05-13-19, 04:04 PM
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When we stuccoed without weep screed as we did in the old days, we took pains to bond the stucco to the foundation below the lath. That picture that shows the lath: how much of that is there? I would like to see you bent that lath in a bit and then press some stucco through it and the best you can bond it to the foundation. Problem is there is dirt on the foundation and stucco does not bond well to dirt. That looks like an invitation to get termites into the wall from outside, if termites are a problem in your area. Where is your area? Pilot is right about maintaining good termite barrier treatment.
Do you have a basement or crawl space or slab on grade?
 
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Old 05-20-19, 08:16 AM
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We're in northern Illinois - I'm not sure how common termites are in our area. We have an exterminator that comes out to the house every quarter, so I'm going to ask for his thoughts next time he's out.

The house has a basement.

Are there other ways to seal the bottom if bonding the stucco to the foundation itself won't work?
 
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Old 05-20-19, 08:24 AM
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If you are going to try bonding it I would excavate around the house to give you access. Then pressure wash the area then apply your stucco/mortar to seal the bottom.
 
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