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Old 09-20-2010, 12:03 AM   #1
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Is my house going to fall down...or it just settling?


I know...alarmist title to thread, but bear with me.

I live in a canyon in Los Angeles. The house was built in the 50's...its quite small (1500sf), split level and goes up a hillside from the floor of the canyon up a steep (45degrees min) hillside. The house is your basic canyon "shack" - all wood, certainly not built to current code.

Over the past 18 months, I've noticed that some of the floors have become slanted...in all different directions. A dropped marble will roll in a particular direction depending on the location of the room. Also, some of the door jams are visibly askew. FYI, the door jam in our bedroom moved when we bought the house 7 years ago - the door would shut, and then not be able to shut...the house has always shifted, it would seem.

Now, I am hearing clicks/pops/cracks in the walls/roof...they are fairly consistent throughout the day, and seem to be getting worse and more frequent. When I walk on the floor, the floor shakes more than before...though this may just be my imagination.

There is no new cracks in the drywall...all the windows still open and close, as do the doors.

I've had two general contractors (personal friends) come over...they see the slanting of the floors, but tell me that is normal...considering the age of the house and location. Also, they claim there is nothing that can be done. In addition, we've gone under the house - all the supports/walls/foundation seems OK.

Questions are:

1. What do these creaks and pops mean?

2. What type of professional can I pay to give another opinion? Stuctural Engineer? Although getting an opinion for free is nice, I would really like to pay a specialist.

3. Is my house in danger of collapsing?

Thanks.

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Old 09-20-2010, 07:52 AM   #2
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Is my house going to fall down...or it just settling?


I have a hard time giving advice to any folks living in canyon country in an area known for its seismic activity,fires, and flash floods. Given that, I would suggest that you keep your insurance up to date and enjoy what I am certain is a beautiful view. And if you do PAY for abonded and insured engineers' assessment regarding structural safety, get it in writing.

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Old 09-20-2010, 07:58 AM   #3
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Is my house going to fall down...or it just settling?


If the slanting is new then it is not normal. After 50 years the settling should have stopped.
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Old 09-20-2010, 08:26 AM   #4
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Is my house going to fall down...or it just settling?


Just a thought on the popping, more than likely the popping is caused but the heating up and cooling off of materials in your attic. See if the popping is heard when it is warming up in the morning and when it is cooling down in the evening.
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Old 09-20-2010, 09:24 AM   #5
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Is my house going to fall down...or it just settling?


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If the slanting is new then it is not normal. After 50 years the settling should have stopped.

I agree...however, what is my next move? What kind of specialist do I get to watch?

I thought about heating/cooling...however, we don't have an attic (roof is made of 4x2 or 4x4...can tell depth with a sort of tar paper covering it...very little insulation.).

Thanks again for replies...fwiw, other people of street have no problems...so its not the hillside sliding down!
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Old 09-20-2010, 11:36 AM   #6
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Is my house going to fall down...or it just settling?


A soils engineer maybe.
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Old 09-20-2010, 12:27 PM   #7
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Is my house going to fall down...or it just settling?


Quote:
Originally Posted by bleecker View Post
I agree...however, what is my next move? What kind of specialist do I get to watch?

I thought about heating/cooling...however, we don't have an attic (roof is made of 4x2 or 4x4...can tell depth with a sort of tar paper covering it...very little insulation.).

Thanks again for replies...fwiw, other people of street have no problems...so its not the hillside sliding down!
You don't have to have an attic for the materials in the roof system to move from expansion and contraction due to heat and cooling.

Just another thought on your unlevel floors. There may be a pier under a girder which doesn't have as much weight on it to cause it to sink as far as the main foundation. If that is the case the pier would stay at the same level and the main foundation could have sunk causing a hump in the floors where the pier under the girder is. If that is the case, the center pier could be adjusted to be lower and make the floors more level. Does this make sense?

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