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MattFels 02-07-2011 12:18 AM

Bubba's been here. Repairing sagging rim/floor joists.
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Hey everybody.

Let's do this: I'm renovating a cabin. It's roughly 340 sq. ft. A 12'x24' box, partitioned in half, with a later addition of a 5'x10' bathroom. I'm 25 years old, living at my mom's house in South Carolina. Currently I live in a room in between the kitchen and the working bathroom. This must stop. The cabin is 30 yards away, and has been put in my charge. I'm renovating it pretty much top to bottom. I want to raise the ceiling, put in new windows, do a complete rewire, and mostly new plumbing. Insulation (for the first time) and drywall. I'm also planning a kitchenette.

It's been slow going because it's mostly been demo and cleanup until now, and while the demo was quick and fun, the cleanup has been slow and tedious. But it's finally ready for progressive, constructive attention. I'm starting at the bottom.

Bubba built this house. He lived here for many years. He got tired of the paint, so he put not one, but two layers of faux-wood paneling over it. The walls were never insulated. The foundation is made of hollow block around the perimeter, nothing in the center spans. The exterior walls are clapboard attached with ol' timey box nails. The framing lumber is rough cut almost true to size 2"x4"'s, not newer milled 1.5"x3.5"s.

I've got a permit in hand, and I've talked to the building inspector. This county is country enough that they've only got two inspectors, and they're both pretty laid back it seems so far. Their attitude, and the size of the structure are reassuring. I fear no code violation. I do want to do a good job.

Here's my immediate problem, with photos and my preliminary plan.

Photo 1, is taken from a few feet in from the front door. It's just context. You can see the non-loadbearing partition in the center, and the bathroom, with the soggy, weak section of sub-floor cut out. You can see through that hole the old shower plumbing, disconnected and hanging there, sloping in the wrong direction. Another problem, for another day.

My problem is twofold. When they installed this bathroom, it appears they connected the crawlspace by just knocking out the foundation, so there's nearly a 8-10 foot run where the block foundation cuts out and follows the new bathroom wall. They also cut out the original rough cut 2x6 double rim joists the cabin had. In its place, they installed, mind-bogglingly, two scabbed together, sistered 2x4's. These don't cover the span to bear down on the original foundation walls either, they're sort of toe-nailed into the overhanging, original joists. At least they didn't land the joints all flush, they overlap by about a foot on each rim joist. Hurray for that. This can be seen from a top down view in the second photo. The lighter rim joists being the new 2x4's, you can see on the left where they butt against the old rim joists. You can also sort of guess where the left foundation wall makes a corner under the old joists. The bathroom's connecting rim joist is thank god a real 2x6 at least.

You can also see the pitiful state of the bottom end of that 4x stud, rotted down to a nubbin. The same is true to a lesser extent of the 4x6 to the right side of the picture.

In the third picture you can see the seedy underbelly. It gets worse. The floor joists from the cabin are falling away from the new rim joists. Notice the pitiful little nailer/sister board they installed on the farther of the two joists. What it's doing I don't know. But the sistered 2x joist on the near joist isn't much better, it only extends about 12" beyond the right of the picture. At least they put a 10" sister on the other side as well, nearly twice as strong right?

The fourth picture is taken from inside the bathroom. You can see the nailers and that falling joist in the dead center of the doorway, with about 1 1/4" of space between the old old subfloor and the new rim joists. The cabin has been sagging into this little valley for a good long while. I need to reframe this span here pretty much from the ground up.

I'm not a carpenter. I'm just a relatively handy guy. I've done a good deal of dock-building in Alaska, on a 100 year old dock with big big lumber, 12 ton bottle jacks and chainsaws and the like. I also lifted my fair share of walls with jack stands and said bottle jacks to carve out rotted sill plates on the 90 year old cannery buildings.

I don't own bottle jacks though. Not yet. I'm looking into it for this job.

Let me lay out my plan. You guys tell me what you think. I've got two, the second one probably better but hear me out.

Both plans involve two poured footers, pier blocks, and 4"x4" posts, and a 4"x6" beam. Building inspector said post foundations, need posts 7' on center, so I'm planning for two.

First plan. Block the sistered 2"x4"s out to 6", flush with the old rim joists. Slap a 4x6 beam up to the bottom of the rim joists that runs the length of the the span, covering the butt joints of the new and old. Jack this beam up accordingly and post it at 7' OC. Then to correct the falling joists form the main room, hang a 4x4 beam under the joists, flush with the new 4x6. Cut out the old nails/nailers connecting these joists. Jack up that 4x4 raising the joists accordingly and then lag the 4x4 to the 4x6 that's posted up. Then nail off the old joists to their new 4x4 ledger. Then with the floor stable, jack up the wall with a temporary beam against the rafter ties and cut out and replace the weak stick members.

Second plan. Very similar. More harder. Use a long temporary beam say 12'-15' to jack up the wall, taking the weight off that span. cut out the vertical framing members. Get down and dirty and take out the old 2x4's entirely. Cut the old double rim joists flush with each other at both ends of the gap. Cut a 4x6 beam to length and insert it in the new hole serving as a new rim/sill. Post this beam up under the butt joints of the new beam and old rim joists. Fasten the old joists to this new beam with strong-tie hangers.

That's the plan Sam, as they say. Like I said, I'm not a skilled tradesman, but I've done similar work before and think I've got it in me. I'm doing the whole job all by myself, making sort of a long-term man-cave/safe house down here. It's a small structure in a loosely regulated county of similarly bad or much worse Bubba-style building. I'm convinced anything I do will pass muster, but I'd like to do it right because I'm preparing to pump about 2-3 grand into this structure in materials (tankless water heater, completely new electric etc.) not to mention many many man-hours to do it up nice into a cozy apartment-style cabin. And I don't want it to fall down after I get it all finished including nice open-frame cabinets in the kitchenette, and so on.

I hope this post doesn't read horribly confusing, or overly long. I just want it to be as clear as possible. I have more pictures if you guys need them, and of course I can take new pictures as well.

Let me know about my plan, about a better plan, or if you need clarification.

Any advice is welcome, short of telling me to bulldoze and start over. Believe me I'd like to, but I'm not in the mood for brand new construction, I just want it to feel brand new down the road. New coat of paint and all that.

Thanks a million.

p.s. In addition to your guys advice I need a first inspection when I've dug the footer holes. Frost line here is 3", footers need only be 6" deep which makes for a 9" deep hole. I think I'm just going to trench the whole span, call the building inspector for the first inspection and pick his brain about whatever plan I decide on before I spring into action. With his advice I'd hope to pass the rough framing inspection when I get it all done. Sound good to you?

jklingel 02-08-2011 01:33 PM

Sagging floor joist: If at all possible, cut the span in half w/ a post/wall/support of some kind. Lacking that, there are steel straps made just for your problem. You jack the beam up and nail on straps that run from the top of the beam at one end, down the side to the bottom in the middle, then back up to the top of the other end of the beam. You nail them all the way along, and can criss-cross two, also. I have no link, but search "sagging floor" etc and you'll find the link posted here. Lumber co should be familiar w/ them.

Ravenworks 02-08-2011 09:26 PM

{ Frost line here is 3", footers need only be 6" deep which makes for a 9" deep hole. }
Your hole needs to be 36" deep plus 6 more inches for the footer itself.

proremodel 02-08-2011 09:43 PM

Hold on--- How far do the 2x6's span? I am going to say you are not going to have to dig a pier/few. What about doubling up them every other one or spread it out over two joist. Once you put joist hangers on the 2x6's they will sturdy up a ton too.

MattFels 02-08-2011 10:03 PM


I wasn't even planning on footers until I talked to the building inspector. He said frost line is 3 inches, and the footer needs to be 6 inches. He actually said an 8 inch deep hole would be fine. He pretty much shrugged the whole thing off. This is serious country criteria here. They're not gonna be stringent, most of the houses around here are blocked up on cinder blocks and scrap wood.

The 2x6 floor joists run perpendicular to the bathroom/cabin interface. Meaning 12 feet. What I'm worried about is the 24 foot double rim joist that sits on the foundation. An approx. 8 foot span has been cut out and replaced with doubled 2x4's, which serve as a double rim joist and the bottom plate of the wall, since there is no real bottom plate. The beams/studs of the wall are rotting out at the bottom, and only supported by this sagging doubled 2x4 rim joist.

I'll post more pictures if you need them. Just ask.

Thanks so much, to the both of you.


proremodel 02-08-2011 10:49 PM

well if you only have to go down 8in then dig it and toss a 2x8 beam in lol. I was figuring you had to go down a good ways and that would suck in a confined space just ask how I know lol.

If anything I would even think about making 2 of them and running one under that wall that is at the edge of the foundation. That will shore up that end too. your on the right track and I know all about demo I should post pics of what jobs I have been working on recently lol

Ravenworks 02-09-2011 07:13 AM

Sorry ,I misunderstood you,in my area it's as I said.

MattFels 02-09-2011 05:28 PM

still a little lost
No biggie,

If anybody else has any input they'd like to offer I'd be grateful. I still can't tell if I'm on the right track, and if my plan(s) are sound.

Any help appreciated.



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