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Old 09-24-2013, 10:23 PM   #1
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Pouring a foundation under an old house?


Hey, all. I'm considering buying an old house- it's a damn good deal, but it needs a hellava makeover. I like it because, despite it's faults (mostly cosmetic), it's a great house, in a great spot, about a half-mile out of my hometown. Basically, perfect.

The major drawback is that it needs a foundation- desperately. Not a basement- We don't do those out here. It's early 1900's/late 1800's, all wood. The house is in the north Bay Area, out in the country, just north of San Francisco, California. It's on a hill- no flooding, and the area gets no snow. Like, maybe an inch every century.

I'm just looking around to see if I can find some educated guesses and other points to be proven before I call about getting quotes- I wanna know what I'm looking for.

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Old 09-24-2013, 10:41 PM   #2
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Pouring a foundation under an old house?


It really depends on what the company that you interview, that comes out to give you an estimate, how much it will cost to raise up and place Cribbing under it. Also depends on how sound the floor joists are, the structure if there is brick on the outside, that will factor into what the costs will be, for them to raise the structure, and either roll it out of the way while the footings and walls are put in place, then roll the structure back in place, when the new foundation is ready for the home to go back on top of it, or get lowered down.

No one on here can really give you numbers, but we all can tell you that you are taking some huge risks in your hands, due to who knows how sound the structure is. Has there been any dry rot, is there any insect damage, has the building been maintained over the years, that it will stay standing while the company is raising it with jacks, to place cribbing under it.

Last thing is, is a bank going to give you the money to pay for the costs, to have a house moving company come in and raise or move the structure, so that you can place a proper foundation under it, and also in turn give you enough to cover the costs of rehabbing it, so that it is a modern home after you are done with all of the work.

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Old 09-24-2013, 10:54 PM   #3
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Pouring a foundation under an old house?


It's pretty structurally sound, no brick (earthquake country), no insect damage, but I really don't know about dry-rot. The house had been maintained in a very red-neck way- Bandaids, not solutions.

The bank won't give me money- Im an 18 year old who's got her father to co-sign on a lease-with-option agreement with people who used to be our neighbors! I am good with saving, tho- no rent, or car payments, and scholarships for broke students like me are easy to come by.
But, besides some plumbing work, the foundation is the only thing that I would be hiring people to do- I'm a country kid; I do my own work. This house would be a project, something to turn into a home slowly, with many years of work. I'm fine living in a dump, with the knowledge that I'm working on making it better.

Basically, I want to know just what I'm considering getting myself into- What the overhead cost breaks down into? What the risks are? What things did you not realize this entailed until you were half-way thru?
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Old 09-24-2013, 10:54 PM   #4
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Pouring a foundation under an old house?


What makes you think that it is a great house, and what is wrong with the foundation?

Why can't you have a basement?
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Old 09-25-2013, 12:01 AM   #5
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Pouring a foundation under an old house?


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What makes you think that it is a great house, and what is wrong with the foundation?

Why can't you have a basement?
They probably did not do the basement, because it is probably an old Farm house out there. Plus you have the issue of fault lines in that area, so that comes down to the fact that they are dealing with an engineering nightmare.

Most older homes in California, especially if you get into the Wine country, they have some great bones, and appeal for those wanting to get out of the city.
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Old 09-25-2013, 12:38 AM   #6
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Pouring a foundation under an old house?


Yes- the house simply doesn't have a foundation in the first place. Most old houses out here don't. I'm not sure why most people don't have basements- It's uncommon in the area. No need, I figure. Also, some areas flood heavily, so basements would get flooded.. and the way I see it, pouring a full basement is more expensive than four concrete walls and a few-foot crawl space.

It is on the edges of Wine Country- west marin, if you're familiar with the area. Besides the lack of foundation, it's a well-built house.
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Old 09-25-2013, 12:52 AM   #7
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Pouring a foundation under an old house?


They had no basements, because of the fact that is how they built homes back in the days. Most had a Root Cellar for storing stuff. But you have to remember again, there are a lot of fault lines throughout that area, and that will determine if you will be able to get the permits, and how much it will cost for this project.

As for flooding, flooding is caused by the fact that any ground cover is burned away, so nothing is there holding the dirt together, to keep mudslides from happening. That with the fact that developers these days tend to just throw a dart at a map and build without thinking of the long term consequences.
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Old 09-25-2013, 12:34 PM   #8
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Pouring a foundation under an old house?


Actually, since we are less than 30 miles from the San Andeas fault, we can't have root cellars- they cave in during earthquakes, and that makes the house drop.

We don't have many mudslides, but we've got Tidal creeks, so when it rains at high-tide, we're stranded.
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Old 09-25-2013, 12:52 PM   #9
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Pouring a foundation under an old house?


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It's pretty structurally sound, no brick (earthquake country), no insect damage, but I really don't know about dry-rot. The house had been maintained in a very red-neck way- Bandaids, not solutions.
Have you had an invasive/destructive home inspection? If not, I don't understand how you can be so certain that it is structurally sound with no insect damage.
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Old 09-25-2013, 02:21 PM   #10
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Pouring a foundation under an old house?


A lot of the homes like the one being described were built from old growth clear heart redwood. It is very rot resistant, insect resistant, and fairly fire resistant. I am not saying you can't have problems along those lines, just it takes a lot to get the problem going.

They are quite different from homes built of lessor wood species, including second growth redwood.
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Old 09-25-2013, 04:32 PM   #11
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Pouring a foundation under an old house?


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Yes- the house simply doesn't have a foundation in the first place. Most old houses out here don't. I'm not sure why most people don't have basements- It's uncommon in the area. No need, I figure. Also, some areas flood heavily, so basements would get flooded.. and the way I see it, pouring a full basement is more expensive than four concrete walls and a few-foot crawl space.

It is on the edges of Wine Country- west marin, if you're familiar with the area. Besides the lack of foundation, it's a well-built house.
How close to San Rafael are you?

There must be some kind of foundation under it,even if it's rubble I don't think it was just built on top of dirt??
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Old 09-25-2013, 07:20 PM   #12
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Pouring a foundation under an old house?


If I understand your post, you are considering purchasing, or maybe lease to purchase, the house. And you are interested in determining approximately how much it would cost, and how difficult it would be, to install a foundation.

Certainly it would be effectively impossible for anyone on this forum to estimate cost to construct a foundation. It is not an uncommon operation, but it is a specialty skill, and generally requires either temporary relocation of the house, construction of the foundation, and relocation of the house on top of the foundation. Or, if that is not possible, the house can be jacked up, place on temporary cribbing, and then reinstalled over the new foundation. Either way, a relatively difficult job.

You certainly should get the house inspected by a professional with experience in foundations. This is not a $300 inspection by a home inspector, rather this requires possibly a structural engineer, an architect, or a contractor with foundation experience. If you select someone with estimating experience, they should be able to give you a ballpark figure for the cost of the project, but you won't know for sure until you get plans and specs developed for the project, pull a permit, and put the job out to bid.

I would think long and hard before I purchased a house with foundation issues. And absolutely spend the money to get it professionally inspected first. You wouldn't buy a $200,000 used car without a professional inspection, certainly a house deserves similar treatment.
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Old 09-27-2013, 12:22 AM   #13
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Pouring a foundation under an old house?


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How close to San Rafael are you?

There must be some kind of foundation under it,even if it's rubble I don't think it was just built on top of dirt??
It's about an hour+ out in the country- in an old farming town. About 50% of the houses in this town are simply sitting on dirt. My grandma's, my aunt's, my uncle's.. It's actually quite common in rural areas.
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Old 09-27-2013, 12:32 AM   #14
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Originally Posted by Daniel Holzman View Post
If I understand your post, you are considering purchasing, or maybe lease to purchase, the house. And you are interested in determining approximately how much it would cost, and how difficult it would be, to install a foundation.

Certainly it would be effectively impossible for anyone on this forum to estimate cost to construct a foundation. It is not an uncommon operation, but it is a specialty skill, and generally requires either temporary relocation of the house, construction of the foundation, and relocation of the house on top of the foundation. Or, if that is not possible, the house can be jacked up, place on temporary cribbing, and then reinstalled over the new foundation. Either way, a relatively difficult job.

You certainly should get the house inspected by a professional with experience in foundations. This is not a $300 inspection by a home inspector, rather this requires possibly a structural engineer, an architect, or a contractor with foundation experience. If you select someone with estimating experience, they should be able to give you a ballpark figure for the cost of the project, but you won't know for sure until you get plans and specs developed for the project, pull a permit, and put the job out to bid.

I would think long and hard before I purchased a house with foundation issues. And absolutely spend the money to get it professionally inspected first. You wouldn't buy a $200,000 used car without a professional inspection, certainly a house deserves similar treatment.
If I get more serious, I will absolutely have it inspected- I'm just trying to get a feel for how big-deal this is. In this situation (the entire house being built, sitting on nothing, therefore easily picked up), would it be placed on cribs, or moved? Do you know? And I'd like to know risks involved, of course. Things to that effect.

I came here because upon googling the question, I found many similar threads on this fourm, asking the same question, but saying since each house varied, others with the question ought to begin a new thread specific to their situation.

Also, this house is not worth 200,000- not by a long shot. It's small, old, and needs quite a bit of TLC- mostly cosmetic (ie, a new coat of paint, re-flooring, a very thorough cleaning, sanding of handrails, ect.), but also needs to be re-plumbed- currently on the hot water runs. If I buy, I'd prefer about 100,000. The current owners don't want to have a thing to do with it, and would be willing to sell for very cheap.
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Old 09-27-2013, 08:40 AM   #15
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Pouring a foundation under an old house?


If the house is sitting directly on the ground with no crawl space or basement that make it more difficult to pick up. Now you need to tunnel under to pull in lifting beams.

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