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Old 12-20-2011, 09:54 AM   #1
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Just how was my house built/is this normal?


So my house was built in 1917, it's a 1.5 story bungalow on a dirt crawlspace. Instead of a proper foundation, it has 3 spread footings supporting a triple 2x6 beam, between the footings and the beam there are stacks of concrete blocks. The rest of the floor structure is supported by stacks of concrete blocks sitting on dirt. This much I've known for most of the past year.

I've also known that the original construction was deficient, most floor joists have been replaced and/or sistered up to 3 times. I've known that the beam has split boards and joints that are unsupported. I've known that the floot joists butt against eachother at the beam. I've known the floors aren't level.

What I've assumed is that there was a rim joist, but it rotted away. Today I found out I was wrong, the rotted wood was in fact exterior planks, there was never apparently a rim joist. There is a sill plate between joists and concrete blocks.

My understanding is that normally in balloon frame construction the studs would be face nailed to the floor joist, which is the case for the floor for the second floor, but apparently not for the first floor. I haven't yet openned any first floor walls yet.

I suppose this isn't really a question as much as rhetorical/venting frustration or confusion over what seems to be construction that is questionable (when viewed in the context of current accepted practices), but what I wonder if this construction method was really accepted and proper in 1917 when the house was built?

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Please do NOT consider any "before" picture of my house as any kind of endorsement of any particular construction method. In fact, you should probably assume that if I post a "before" picture, I am posting it because I am soliciting advice on a proper replacement for one of MANY things done wrong by a previous owner.
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Old 12-20-2011, 10:01 AM   #2
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Just how was my house built/is this normal?


Back in those day there were few if any building codes---if the home owner built his own house and many did--they sought advice from the best source they could find--

Often it was the blind leading the blind.

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Old 12-20-2011, 10:13 AM   #3
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Just how was my house built/is this normal?


I would think that the building codes/regulations of 1917 were not as stringent as they are today.

I once owned a two-story suburban house built in 1888, and the foundation was a bunch of dry-stacked fieldstones (to grade level) on top of which was about 18" of brick, with a dirt-floor basement. The first floor joists were a mish-mash of different-sized rough-hewn logs (ranging from about 4" to 10" in diameter) on top of which were various widths of rough-cut floor planks. Needless to say, it wasn't the least pretty to look at. I'm not sure that would be up-to-code by today's standards.

If you think there is a safety issue (like the house falling down), you might want to open up some walls to see what's there. In a house that old, and if there is no sign of any remodeling of the walls, you might be lucky enough to find some 'treasure' stashed away behind them thar walls. Maybe some WWI artifacts(?)
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