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Old 02-07-2012, 11:13 PM   #1
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Raising Pier and beam home


I've been doing a little foundation/construction research after I most recently purchased a 1200 sq ft 1.5 story home with foundation problems.
You know what they say about a little knowledge lol
I see the electrical entrance has slightly buckled away from the house due to a sinking foundation. Im guessing it has sunk @ 2".
There is a crawlspace below so shallow it does not allow access and the floors are spongy. I suspect the beams and at least some joists are faulty.
Once the joist problems have been corrected I think I could correct the level of the house.
As a fix, I am guessing that steel beams run through the foundation every 12 feet supported by steel screw jacks on broad based cement peirs with a dug down compacted gravel base every 4 feet should support the house weight well enough to change the sill plates.......am I on the right track

Not sure what to do with the sunken foundation......HELP! : )

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Old 02-07-2012, 11:28 PM   #2
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Raising Pier and beam home


How did you arrive at that fix?
By guessing, w/o even seeing what's going on down there?
Why do you want to change the sill plates?
You need to cut through the floor to gain access to see what problems you might have.
And you might need a structural engineer.
Didn't you get an inspection before you bought it? What did they say about it?


Last edited by titanoman; 02-07-2012 at 11:33 PM.
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Old 02-07-2012, 11:32 PM   #3
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Raising Pier and beam home


Not a DIY job to lift a whole house.
Can you hold the house closer to the screen so we can all see what it is your talking about, or better yet post some pictures.
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Old 02-08-2012, 07:13 AM   #4
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Raising Pier and beam home


This is a very common theme on this forum. Search for "pier and beam" or "sinking foundation" or similar, you will find lots of threads. There is an entire industry devoted to repairing bad foundations, especially down south on expansive clay soils. I find it ironic that there are dozens, maybe hundreds, of companies willing to fix your foundation, yet the knowledge to build them correctly in the first place seems to have eluded the industry.

There are two fundamentally different ways to approach your issue. One approach is to hire a company that "guarantees" that they will fix your problem. Be careful, some of these companies will not be around long enough to honor their warranty. Option two, which I recommend, is to hire a local, competent structural engineer to examine your house, run some soil tests, and recommend a repair procedure. You would then bid the job.

The reason so few people hire the structural engineer is they seem to be afraid to "waste" $1000 or so getting a sound recommendation for repair. Most folks I ran into are more comfortable spending anywhere from $5 to $10 thousand actually doing the repair, on the theory that the foundation company knows what they are doing, and therefore they are "saving" the engineer's fee. Doing this sort of project yourself is very advance DIY work because jacking a structure is dangerous, and hard to do without cracking the house. As for your design theory, it might be viable, impossible to discuss without soils tests and detailed geometry of the house.
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Old 02-08-2012, 08:05 AM   #5
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Raising Pier and beam home


Yeah... what he said. The first thing holding up your house is the ground, and at this point you don't know anything about it. Your plan sounds like it provides more support than mine, but I don't know if your ground is capable of carrying the same amount of load that mine is and that has to be the first thing determined... Another thing more critical than the number of supports under your beam is that the footings supporting those supports needs to be specified, also this will relate to the soil, such that the surface area will sufficiently distribute the load.

You might find that you're specifying more supports than you need - digging the footings for the supports in a crawlspace too shallow to crawl is something you shouldn't take for granted. I've owned my house for about 18 months and I've been working on my project most of that time, after I redid the roof and did some major electrical and insulating work. My first footing inspection was in April of 2011. I'm putting in 4 beams, and I will probably have 3 done by the time this weekend is over.

In terms of footings, I will point to 1 major push I had over the Christmas holiday - I had been digging footings for inspection for a few months, and in one batch I poured 8 of those footings - 2 tons of concrete, mixed from bags in a mixer, poured into 5 gallon buckets - 12 of them per footing, carried and dragged to the footing under the house and poured. I did this within a 24 hour period so I could limit my mixer rental cost to a 1 day charge. That aside, I've done footings 1 or 2 at a time, mixing the concrete in a tub while sitting in my crawlspace. More than 2 is too much work for an evening - and even on a weekend, I don't think I'd have the stamina to do more than 4.
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Old 02-08-2012, 08:06 AM   #6
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Raising Pier and beam home


No, I did not have a house inspector examine the house. Even as a novice it was obvious that :
1. the house has sunk caused by foundation instability. (electrical connection buckling at the perimeter of house)
2. the uneven floor is spongy caused by broken, rotted or infested beams and or joists.
3. the smell coming through the floor indicated a damp unsealed/ un-insulated dirt crawl space. This verified by yours truly.

I take possession of the house beginning of March (hence no pictures) In the mean time I am trying to sort out a worst case scenario fix of the problems and that Is how I came up with that fix.
As I mentioned, it is "worst case scenario" but it will provide something close to a worst case budget in preparation of actual engineering examination....this coming Monday.

I agree with you, cutting a hole or several holes in the floor will tell the real story. So, in advance of demolition day, I am throwing it out there trying to become familiar with the nut and bolts of the processes of fixing these "worst case" problems.
Any fix that requires less effort, time, materials or money is gravy!

I don't mean to sound arrogant, I am simply a follower of logic with a little common sense. As an Electronics Engineering Tech, Risk and Project manager I have an appreciation for minutia. Also, I know every thing can be broken down to a list of tasks. I believe this is no different and these problems can be corrected by following a process. Trusting this is not as much a mental exercise as it is physical, I am confident I'll overcome this challenge with the help of more seasoned professionals.

I must admit, I have gained a huge appreciation for how important a clean, dry, insulated crawl space is to the health of a house and its occupants.

I dont see a lot of information on the web for similar problems to mine although im sure I am not alone in the situation. I'll be documenting complete with pics as I go for any one interested.
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Old 02-08-2012, 08:17 AM   #7
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Raising Pier and beam home


Thanks Dan and WillK for your input. Most appreciated! A soil compaction test is in my future for sure.
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Old 02-08-2012, 08:52 AM   #8
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Raising Pier and beam home


You don't need a soil compaction test at this point, you need a bearing capacity test. Quite different. You use the soil compaction test on structural fill to determine how much effort is necessary to compact the soil to the required density. In your case, you need to determine the bearing capacity (load the soil can carry) in order to determine the size and depth of the foundations required. You may also need a consolidation test, which is designed to measure how much movement the soil is likely to undergo when you load it. Of course, your engineer will explain all the tests needed, and how they will be used, to design your foundation.
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Old 02-08-2012, 10:31 AM   #9
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Raising Pier and beam home


Great forum! Professional posters!

Most grateful Dan!

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