I want to cover the exterior foundation of my house with hardie panels.

Our house foundation is partly cinderblock and partly ash/stone compacted and mixed with cement I think. This is in Northeastern PA. I figure I can put a wood frame on the foundation and attach hardie panels with non-rusting screws and caulk all seams and holes and put an insulating/vapor barrier between the foundation and the panel. How deep into the ground should I go? Should the hardie panel go an inch or two below ground level or a foot? Or not at all? Any ideas?
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James Hardie defers to local building codes but does not recommend clearance less than 6" above the finished grade. They also say that "Do not install James Hardie products, such that they may remain in contact with standing water." So no ground contact at all. Check out their installation manual here:
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It's a concise 2-page document that is very well written and covers your situation. Very useful illustrations are provided, too.
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