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Old 07-26-2011, 08:09 PM   #1
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Anyone get a house raised/jacked up?


Contemplating my basement remodel, an evil thought crossed my mind Although this is a DIY site I figured I'd ask here since we have plenty of home builders.

Short version:
Thinking about hiring a house mover to jack up my house by 2 ft, then having a foundation contractor fill in the rest.


Unabridged:

Currently my house has a full basement that is 7'1" to the joists (7' even with ceiling tiles), but the main beam with HVAC ducting is 3 2x12s stacked together that only have 6'3 of space underneath It doesn't really bother me as I'm <6' tall, but the damn stairs the last stair is right under the beam and it's really short, like 5 1/2' tall, even I have to be careful going down the stairs. Any of my taller friends really have to be careful, cheap "solution" so far I put a rubber/foam corner guard on the beam to soften the blow.

I've thought about getting the beam shortened with some kind of newer technology that wouldn't have to be as thick (LVL, steel, etc) OR somehow eliminating/moving just the span over the stairs but that still leaves a very low hanging section over the middle of the rest of the basement. I also thought about relocating the furnace and HVAC ducts to the edges of the basement to increase the center area.

Of course the two ways to increase ceiling height of a basement is to dig it lower or to jack the house up. I didn't like the thought of excavating the basement lower, you'd have to keep an 18" "rim" around the entire basement not to disturb the existing footers/foundation. Not to mention it opens a whole can of worms of going too far into the water table, getting the sewer redug.

So I pondered the idea of getting the house jacked up 2' or a little less, that way the mimimal low area under the basement would be 8' under the beams and 9' the rest of the area. I'd no longer have to move the HVAC ducts and the furnace.

I can think of a few things working in my favor:
1) House has plenty of flat yard around it, no hills or other houses and is parallel to a wide, dead end street, so big trucks etc can easily get in.
2) House isn't that big, ~1000 sq ft, approx 27 x 37 and is a perfect rectangle.
3) The house is very solid- no noticeable sagging or cracking, no major water issues in the basement. The wood used to build this house is extremely strong.
4) Relatively easy utility connections -aerial power and phone, 1 water and 1 gas connection, 1 HVAC condenser and 2 sewer lines that would have to be extended, all exposed and on one side of the house.
5) Nearly 2 ft of the basement is already above grade, so the contractor probably wouldn't have to excavate at all to stuff beams in to jack it up.
6) Basement is pretty much all torn out anyway- no worry about damaging stuff down there.
7) No porch or deck to worry about (yet).
8) It should ideally increase the resale value as taller people can more effectively use the basement- though this concern is minimal.


Of course the disadvantages.
1) Cost of course
2) May shatter windows or existing walls (not too concerned, windows need replacing anyway), or cause brick to crack (all brick house).
3) If not done right could really screw things up- I read that one guy had his house jacked up and it wound up costing so much more in additional repairs it would have been cheaper and less headache for him just to bulldoze the house and start from scratch
4) May not be worth the expense- after I do this and all the details, I'm still left with a 1950's house. Might be better to save the $ for something else or a different house.

I've found 3 companies that service my area- Expert House Movers, Wolfe House & Building Movers and a 3rd one whose site is suspended.

Has anyone ever done this? I'm sure it's going to be at least several grand, but thought I'd throw it out there.

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Old 07-26-2011, 08:22 PM   #2
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Anyone get a house raised/jacked up?


Several grand no, more like a few ten of thousands of money. Also what does your local state about this with permitting and such, along with insurance company. You will also need an architect to draw up plans, and have an engineer make sure that the current structure can handle the stress when jacked up or worst, moved out of the way to a newer foundation near the old. Also, what do your neighbors think of this happening.

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Old 07-26-2011, 08:33 PM   #3
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Anyone get a house raised/jacked up?


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Originally Posted by gregzoll View Post
Several grand no, more like a few ten of thousands of money. Also what does your local state about this with permitting and such, along with insurance company. You will also need an architect to draw up plans, and have an engineer make sure that the current structure can handle the stress when jacked up or worst, moved out of the way to a newer foundation near the old. Also, what do your neighbors think of this happening.
You bring up great points. Yes I realize the price has a huge range to it- I've searched the web and seen some have it done for as little as $5k for the lift itself but that was in a different part of the country.

The local municipality is fairly easy to work with when it comes to permits/modifications, and of course I'd contact insurance and the mortgage holder.

As for the other stuff- I'm not moving the house- just want to raise the house, get the foundation build up 2 feet higher, then put right back down where it originally was. No moving, no adding.

Finally I really could care less about what the neighbors think... it's not like I'm letting the house sit here and rot away, it's in great shape.
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Old 07-26-2011, 10:41 PM   #4
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Anyone get a house raised/jacked up?


I have done several jobs just like you are describing. As matter of fact I will doing this for my folk's house later this year. It is a great way to get done what you need and they will be living in the house as I have the work done.
The cost around here for a lift like that for a standard size single story house would be 12-18k. That is the lift only.
Plus rental of the beams and cribbing.

Andy.
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Old 07-29-2011, 06:01 PM   #5
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Anyone get a house raised/jacked up?


A job like, assuming it is a single brick veneer on wood frame construction, would be 15-20 thousand dollars just for the lift. If you get Wolfe House Movers to lift it for you, they will give you 45 days to install the new foundation/extend the existing foundation before there is any rental charge for the cribbing or steel beams.
A reputable house mover will provide what is called cargo insurance on the building while they are working on it. Typical coverage would be $150,000 to $200,000 thousand, and this covers only the building. They will have a separate one or two million dollar liability policy to cover anything else.
MD is very good about permitting lifted buildings. You will not need a permit to lift the house, but you will need a permit to install the new foundation or extend the old foundation.
If you get a house mover who is familiar with lifting brick buildings, there should be very little or no cracking in the brick, and the windows will definitely be OK. You should expect a few hairline cracks in the sheet-rock, not necessarily because it cracked when the house mover lifted it, but because if you look you will probably find some in the sheet-rock right now.
There are thousands of people who do what you are considering every year and are glad they did.
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