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I'm stopping by to see what people think might be the solution to the previous owner's "solution". I've got a garage with wooden walls that is butted directly up against an area of yard graded 2.5 feet higher than the garage floor. That patch of yard is contained with a retaining wall. We knew something was up after the first rainstorm and watched a flood of water pour in through the floor molding on the side that touches the retaining wall. I was advised to open up the drywall to get a decent look inside, and now we know that it's been rotting for years. Since we're not able to regrade the yard outside, does it make sense to replace the portion of wall/siding with a sealed/tarred cinderblock wall, and then reinstall the siding onto the shortened/replaced studs? I've seen similar posts that have recommendations featuring all-wood solutions, even when below-grade.

Rotted wall/framing Exterior/retaining wall showing grade differenceI

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  • A concrete or cement block wall above ground will probably be the best solution for a long(life time) fix. Since it is a load bearing wall, an engineer might be a good idea to design it. The retaining wall adds complexity to the solution.
    – crip659
    Jun 30, 2023 at 21:16
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    I would continue the retaining wall across the width of the garage. Leave a space between the retaining wall and the wood wall allowing water to escape.
    – r13
    Jun 30, 2023 at 21:39
  • The old joke in carpenter school was that pressure treated foundations (a short-lived trend, thankfully) were the basis of a composting house. So, yes: concrete below grade. Jul 1, 2023 at 18:00
  • Wait, beyond the wall where it looks to end near the gutter—is the earth filled up against the siding?
    – Huesmann
    Jul 1, 2023 at 18:28
  • @Huesmann : yes, that's exactly what you're looking at. The earth is filled in directly against the wooden, painted siding.
    – NW.v02Beta
    Jul 1, 2023 at 19:27

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You can go cinder/concrete block or poured concrete as you suggest, or you can use suitably treated wood (rated for ground contact, not merely "pressure treated") as is used for all-wooden foundations - as you prefer.

In either case, you should install drainage to remove water outside the wall when you have access, because even a "waterproofed" wall works a lot better when it's not fighting pressure trying to force water in.

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  • Drainage is basically the top priority (outside of basic structural stability), I agree. Would your go-to in this situation be something along the lines of a french drain that links up to the existing gutter?
    – NW.v02Beta
    Jul 1, 2023 at 19:49

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