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Old 09-13-2011, 06:24 PM   #1
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Renovating old Church: How to fix Leaning Exterior Wall


We have been renovating an old church into what will become our family's winery & dinner theater. The west side was built in 1930 on a poured foundation. The wood used to frame the building was obtained from tearing down two older churches. Needless to say the wood is very old, but mostly in perfect condition. When you cut through the wood, it looks as fresh as the day it was cut down, except for a couple of problem areas that rotted due to a leaky roof. These areas have already been replaced with new timber. The old wood is mostly 1 5/8" to 1-3/4" x 5-5/8 to 5-3/4" (2x6s).

An observation is that the wood is far superior (even at its age) to anything you can buy at a Lowes or Home Depot today. The downside to it though is that they were not as precise in making all of the 2x6s (etc) uniform in size back then, as demonstrated by the above measurements. The east side was an addition built in the late 1950s on top of a block foundation using new wood that is the same as the nominal measurements used today.

On to our issue: The exterior walls appear to be leaning outward by as much as 2 - 3 inches. I have no idea how I did not notice this until now except to say I have only been using my level on two axis instead of three. The building is completely gutted; stripped off all its insulation, plaster, drywall, electrical, plumbing, and siding. It is basically a shell of its former self with the frame and the 1930s version of OSB (1x10s?). We have replaced all of the windows and doors. I can only assume that the walls are leaning due to the weight of the roof over the course of the last 80 years. The original collar ties are 19' from the main level floor whereas the studs that comprise the north and west walls are 12' in height. This puts the collar ties at approximately 7' above the end of the roof's slope.

Note: We intend to have a company called Centurion stone use a 2" thick stone veneer on the entire exterior once we are finished putting the last windows and doors in, and have completed adding a level to the bell tower.

1) Is it structurally necessary to fix the lean in the wall (I want to fix it regardless, as the south wall is noticeable if you look at it in contrast with other things in the background that you know to be level).

2) How do we make the walls level again?

I have kept a thorough diary of the remodel on the Winery's Facebook page with before and after photos, additional blueprints, other problems we have encountered and how we have fixed them, etc. It might be a good resource for any structural engineers who want to throw some advice our way. (You might even take a look at other things we have fixed and let us know if we erred anywhere :-) One final note is that we had a company called Midwest Basement Systems take a look at the foundation to be sure no work was needed there when we originally obtained this building. They said that with the exception of a couple of cracks in the interior concrete urethane it looked almost as good as the day it was poured and did not need any work. The block foundation on the eastern addition also contains no cracks and is level.


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Old 09-13-2011, 07:56 PM   #2
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Renovating old Church: How to fix Leaning Exterior Wall


You are going to need an engineer to look over the plans, and figure out a solution to fix the leaning walls. Afraid to tell you, but this job could end up costing you more than you gambled at the start.

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Old 09-14-2011, 10:32 AM   #3
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Renovating old Church: How to fix Leaning Exterior Wall


Yes, I plan on hiring an engineer, but thought I would also get some opinions from a couple of engineers here as well. Considering we purchased the old church from the city for $1 as a part of an economic revival plan, and have a $200k budget to make it how we want it...I think we will be okay. Now, I didn't ask if anyone thought it would be costly, I asked how something like this typically gets repaired. Thank you.
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Old 09-14-2011, 11:31 AM   #4
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Renovating old Church: How to fix Leaning Exterior Wall


You will not get any opinions on this forum, due to it is a diyer forum, not a contractor forum. There is contractorstalk.com, but they will most likely state the same that I did, and that is consult with an engineer, due to a Internet forum is not the correct way to do this job.
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Old 09-14-2011, 12:44 PM   #5
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Renovating old Church: How to fix Leaning Exterior Wall


This sounds like a very interesting project, but frankly I am too busy with paying projects to take the time required to review plans, photos, and your blog to offer an intelligent opinion as to the specific cause of leaning walls, or whether your specific case is a structural issue or simply a cosmetic issue.

So I don't totally waste your time, I can tell you from previous projects I have worked on that leaning walls can be caused by a number of factors. The following list is not an exhaustive one, but should give you some idea where to start looking:

1. Framing problems, specifically look at the connections between joists, rafters and walls.

2. Long term lateral load from the roof causing outward thrust on the walls due to the geometry of the framing, causing long term creep.

3. Excessive loading due to heavy snow load, or an unusual wind event, overstressing structural elements.

4. Differential foundation settlement.

5. Lateral earth loading on the foundation causing the foundation to go out of plumb, affecting the walls.

To determine the cause, you generally need to start with a very careful instrument survey of the building to determine how much settlement has occurred, and exactly how far out of plumb each wall is. This cannot be done by eye, and is actually harder to perform correctly than it sounds. Usually only after the settlement and out of plumb conditions have been accurately measured can you begin to determine the cause.
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Old 09-14-2011, 01:15 PM   #6
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Renovating old Church: How to fix Leaning Exterior Wall


Just curious, are there other walls that are leaning in the same amount as these walls lean out? If not it had to be framed that way or something structural has been compromised and you will need to find why and correct or the wall could continue to spread.
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Old 09-14-2011, 01:27 PM   #7
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Renovating old Church: How to fix Leaning Exterior Wall


@Daniel...

Thank you for your post. I accept that i need to have a strucural engineer come on site and give a professional opinion. However, I think it is also appropriate for one to do independent homework before such a meeting so that i can be familiar with the nomenclature of the engineer and put myself in a position that I actually understand any feedback they provide.

While I am not a structural engineer, I am pretty smart (modesty aside) and learn quickly. Of the bullet points you numbered above, the cause of the walls being out of plumb is almost certainly due to #2. The foundation is perfect and the floors are level. The main level has a vaulted ceiling with only collar ties preventing lateral movement. The collar ties are 19' above the main level floor, or 7' above where the roof comes into contact with the tops of the walls.

I am not looking for someone to tell me how to fix this issue online so much as trying to get an idea of what my immediate future will entail. If #2 is the cause, then what is the typical solution? Is there typically a fix to this issue or is it more of a tear apart and rebuild situation.

@Greg: DIY forums typically exist for pros to help out the layman. If it were DIYers only giving advice to other DIYers, then it would be a bit like the blind leading the blind.
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Old 09-14-2011, 01:33 PM   #8
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Renovating old Church: How to fix Leaning Exterior Wall


@ Jim

No, all of the walls appear to out of plumb at the top going OUTWARD. The south wall is more severe at about 2 1/2 inches. The other walls vary from 1/2" to 1". I believe the south wall goes out more because it is the tallest uninterrupted wall with the least amount of support preventing lateral movement due to the roof. The north wall doesn't really even exist because a giant bulkhead supports the slope of the roof to the north and is interrupted by another roof that slopes to the opposite direction that is over a stage and bell tower.


See the images on Facebook through the images below:

Southwest Exterior Corner (Before Renovation)


South Wall (Exterior)

South Wall (Interior)

Northeast Corner (Exterior prior to renovation)

Northeast Corner (Exterior During Renovation)


The Facebook pictures themselves have explanations throughout the album of what you are looking at and how they relate to the blueprints.[/quote]

Last edited by dutchswan0311; 09-14-2011 at 01:37 PM.
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Old 09-14-2011, 02:27 PM   #9
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Renovating old Church: How to fix Leaning Exterior Wall


Dutch, go outside and sight down the fascia of the cornice and see if it bows out in the middle. It sounds like the ridge may have dropped and the walls are spreading or the rafters in the vault are pushing the wall out or the rafters could be pulling loose. Anyway, the source must be found and corrected or it will get worse, unless it is stabilized in the shape it is now, which I don't advise.

Another thought, if there are ties installed (ceiling joists) half way up the rafters there could be a belly pulled in the rafters, Go outside and sight up the rafters to see if there is a belly in any of them. If there is, more than likely it will be the center rafters that will have the belly.
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Old 09-14-2011, 03:03 PM   #10
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Renovating old Church: How to fix Leaning Exterior Wall


This is the best image I have of the inside roof structure. This might give you a better idea of what I am talking about.


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Old 09-14-2011, 04:40 PM   #11
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Renovating old Church: How to fix Leaning Exterior Wall


Looking at your plan and pics, I'd say the roof load has pushed the wall out. It can be brought back by using a cabling system but an engineer will have to design it. The cables will remain afterwards. I also see doors opening into a public building. Might wanna check with local codes but that's a recognized fire hazard. All doors must open out and you may find that the local code requires crash hardware. The glass might be required to be laminated for safety.
Looks like a dandy project.
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Old 09-14-2011, 04:43 PM   #12
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Is there a beam for the ridge or is it tied together with something?
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Old 09-14-2011, 05:11 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TrapperL View Post
Looking at your plan and pics, I'd say the roof load has pushed the wall out. It can be brought back by using a cabling system but an engineer will have to design it. The cables will remain afterwards. I also see doors opening into a public building. Might wanna check with local codes but that's a recognized fire hazard. All doors must open out and you may find that the local code requires crash hardware. The glass might be required to be laminated for safety.
Looks like a dandy project.
I figured it might require a cabling system, but it is not desirable to leave them there. I am hoping the use of new collar ties positioned below the current ones might hold everything in place after such cabling system could be removed.

The middle set of french doors open outward, while the french doors on either side open inward. There is no city code that specifies what is appropriate. Since these three sets of french doors replaced three windows that one could not really reach, I think we have increase the safety level. The main room now has no less than 5 sets of double doors exiting directly to the outside from a 1200sqft area. I think we will be okay in that regard.
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Old 09-14-2011, 05:13 PM   #14
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Renovating old Church: How to fix Leaning Exterior Wall


Quote:
Originally Posted by jiju1943 View Post
Is there a beam for the ridge or is it tied together with something?
The rafters end on three layers of 2x6 laying on their sides (so the equivalent of one continuous 6x6 running the length of the wall).
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Old 09-14-2011, 05:14 PM   #15
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Renovating old Church: How to fix Leaning Exterior Wall


I do have a structural engineering firm scheduled to meet me on site at 8am on Saturday. Hopefully they will bring good news.

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