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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Posts
    1

    Default Foundation: Where to go from here.

    I am heartbroken and not sure which way to go from here. My husband and I bought 5 acres and an old farmhouse a few years ago. We got it pretty cheap. We started to fix the inside of this one and a half story house and while discussing siding, we discovered a major issue with the house. It has a stone foundation and the corner stone had shifted. Upon further inspection, we discovered the main timbers (12x12) that the wall studs are notched into are rotting. This house was built late 1800s early 1900s and I just hate to see it tore down, but cannot see any other option. A concrete slab poured outside the main house is dated 1912 and that is where we got the time period from.

    We got a mobile home and set it up next to the house, but I don't want to live in a trailer forever. We are a young couple and have time, so if it turns into a long term project with a little here and there we can handle it. What do you think? Salvage the materials I can and tear it down? Or try to fix it?

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Aug 2008
    Posts
    78

    Default Re: Foundation: Where to go from here.

    deb:

    Such questions that you pose concerning the structural issues of a house really can't be answered on an internet forum---you will have to consult the Yellow Pages under "Engineers, Civil" to get a dollar quote for someone to come out and look at it with an expert's eye.

    You might call several real estate agents first to see if they can recommend someone they know is a good local civil engineer, rather than calling someone blind that you know nothing about.

    The few dollars you spend for the right person to come out will be well worth it---the right person will be able to give you a run-down on exactly what to do to repair the structural problems for the least amount of $$$ and avoid wasted effort.

    There is usually something that can be done to correct the problems you mention without tearing the structure down.

    Also touch base with an attorney, especially a real estate attorney as to any recourse you have to have the seller pay for non-disclosure of the problems.

    Various states have different time limits where the seller of the house has to advise the buyer of any structural problems at the time of sale.

    The public library, Barnes & Noble and the internet are other sources of books that you should seek out to get a background on repairing structural problems.

    Talk to the "reverence librarian" at the library--they can search their computer to see if they have books on structural repairs anywhere in the state, and have it delivered to your local branch free of charge.

    Google such phrases as "home structural repairs", "home foundation repairs", "replacing frame structures", "replacing barn beams", "building structural repairs"

    It sounds like you have mortise & tenon joints & possibly post & beam construction, which is lots sturdier and less prone to structural damage than modern frame construction.

    Post & Beam usually has a large horizontal 12 X 12 beam running right down the center of the house, end to end--also Google these terms to get diagrams of how older houses are constructed.

    If you have any photos of the damaged areas,someone on the forum who has done this work before may be able to offer suggestions.
    Last edited by von_steuben; 10-10-2008 at 05:30 PM.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Dec 2007
    Location
    MN
    Posts
    455

    Default Re: Foundation: Where to go from here.

    Quote Originally Posted by deb4943 View Post
    I am heartbroken and not sure which way to go from here. My husband and I bought 5 acres and an old farmhouse a few years ago. We got it pretty cheap. We started to fix the inside of this one and a half story house and while discussing siding, we discovered a major issue with the house. It has a stone foundation and the corner stone had shifted. Upon further inspection, we discovered the main timbers (12x12) that the wall studs are notched into are rotting. This house was built late 1800s early 1900s and I just hate to see it tore down, but cannot see any other option. A concrete slab poured outside the main house is dated 1912 and that is where we got the time period from.

    We got a mobile home and set it up next to the house, but I don't want to live in a trailer forever. We are a young couple and have time, so if it turns into a long term project with a little here and there we can handle it. What do you think? Salvage the materials I can and tear it down? Or try to fix it?
    That would be my vote. Chances are it would be cheaper in the long run.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Apr 2009
    Location
    Vancouver, BC
    Posts
    5

    Default Re: Foundation: Where to go from here.

    Don't Despair. A qualified foundation contractor will be able to provide a quote on a repair job. They will work with structural engineers and the permit department to get it done. The beauty / frustration issues with foundation work is that it is simple grunt work. Shovels, cement and muscles.

    Our old house has a foundation that is in good shape, but the basement is too low. So we will be underpinning the basement and adding 2 feet of foundation all around. This should cost approx $20k and involves a ton of digging and structural work. So your job may not be that bad. When I was looking at getting one section of our basement repaired (before we just decided to fix the whole thing) the foundation contractors we talked to were well prepared for anything.

    Hope this helps...

    Kevin
    Modern home renovation
    check out our Hidden Content :

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Feb 2009
    Posts
    5

    Default Re: Foundation: Where to go from here.

    I'm really glad I found this thread. Our family has discussed for years the idea of rehabbing my grandma's old house. By the looks of it, the house is from the mid- to late 1800s, but has been sitting dormant for much of the past 10 years. The foundation has started sinking, it has served as shelter to various woodland creatures, and the inside ceiling has fallen through in two of the rooms.

    The extensive problems with the house are probably too much for our family's budget, and it should be dismantled. However, we all have an emotional attachment to the little place, and would love to see it support another generation of our family.

    Maybe a civil engineer could give us some of the cold, hard facts about what needs to be done to the place. As much as I would hate selling it all for salvage, I also hate the idea of the little homestead dying a slow, painful death due to neglect.

    Besides, maybe there is something to save there.

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