inside door looking out. ignore fake bricks in foreground, issue is between main door and ext. wall basement view, almost directly underneath first picture. Perpendicular cross joist is underneath door. past that is the bricks. My entry is a no step entry that was poorly conceived by the previous owners. Here are my issues: - Entry door is inset into my home, behind my foundation wall. - I live on a slope, with a circle drive, so in heavy rains, the drive acts as a funnel for pushing water right in my front door. - The walkway outside of the house is barely sloped away, so in heavy rains it struggles to direct water away from the home. - Previous owners carved out 2-3 inches of the 2x8x12 16oc joists to lay a brick entry in the space between the door and exterior wall of the house. - water damage has severely compromised what remains of the joists.

What I've done so far: - I have done landscaping and installed a french drain which is tied into a new drain grate on my walkway(past doormat in pic) to prevent most of the water from making it to the house. I have not had water enter my house since, but haven't had a truly powerful thunderstorm yet, either.

Advice needed: - Should I remove the joists, flooring, bricks (between door and exterior wall), and install new joists and flooring? If so, how should I handle that section between the door and the ext. wall (approx 3'x4')? I could use the same basic concept, but substitute real bricks for tile bricks set in concrete, but I'm not sure if that is adequately water-resistant. OR - Should I leave the existing brickwork, sister 9' joists to the old ones, and build a load bearing wall in the basement to support the shorter joists? OR - I'm open to ideas.

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    Well, certainly replace all damaged wood. Aside from waiting to see if yr french drain handles all storms, consider removing the bricks just outside the entryway (outside the main walls), digging a trench to anothe rdry well, and covering that with an iron grate. Finally maybe building a threshold & a storm door at the outside of the house if you have the headroom to do so. Feb 20, 2017 at 20:35
  • thanks @carl, I'll be replacing the wood for sure, and I'm just trying to decide how to do it. Your suggestion to remove the bricks outside the main walls is a good one, so I'll keep that in mind though it would be a lot of work as they're on top of 4 inches of concrete. I'll be repairing the old storm door as soon as I can, but it has some rust damage and is a round top, so not easily replaceable. Feb 20, 2017 at 21:04

1 Answer 1


You're good to go for now and maybe forever. The only water issue I see you ever having again is adding another French Drain trough next to the first one you did to handle those extremely rare flash flooding downpours. But, you did the right and most perfect thing to start with.

As far as the joists go, do a Screwdriver Stab Test...ugly doesn't mean shot. If the screwdriver just dents the wood you're solid and can simply clean and paint...the brick and brick's mortar are sound. If the screwdriver goes in or through or makes a hollow sound as it hits, it needs replacing.

You can bolt-on new sandwich scabs to replace the ones the previous owners did. Or, treat those joists like stairs and head them off to put their majority load out to further joists and put in entryway retainers or supports. Or, you could remove the bridging between joists and sister-on new joists that run the length of the basement. There's no reason to mess with floor space or moving ducts.

  • Thanks! This kind of confirmed what I was thinking but hoping to not be true. The screwdriver test was a fail. the top layers of wood where the rot was the worst just flaked off with no force applied. Though I don't want to do this, for peace of mind, resale, and pride in a job well done I will be redoing the entry. I'm currently looking for a porcelain tile that looks like brick so that I can do a smaller joist notch for the exterior entry. If I can't find said tile, I'll head off the joists, and reinstall brick. Mar 7, 2017 at 18:33
  • Yeah, that's too bad the wood's shot, but now you know for sure and you may find just a small portion is rotted to put in pressure treated shims...maybe. While I get the porcelain look, I think you might have a slip hazard with that stuff. If you can't find it you may be able to go with Veneer Brick and just chisel out a 1/2-inch of the old brick as a shortcut that won't require, possibly, re-pouring all of the concrete.
    – Iggy
    Mar 8, 2017 at 2:53

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