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Old 10-22-2009, 07:37 PM   #1
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Could a 130yr old house be RE-LEVELED ?


Hey guys,

We found a great c.1880 house with great land size, for a good price.
Upon examining it, I realized why it was such a great price. The East side of the house has dropped a good 2+inches. Maybe more... didnt measure, but it was obvious to the eye, (and foot).

Details of the house:
- Built in 1883. Stacked Stone foundation (about 6ft deep basement. Canada has to go below the frost line)
- Defanite slant on the 2nd floor. Worrying thing is that it seems to be from the center line, east. West side seems level.
- Noticed one vertical spider-crack in 2nd floor hallway. I assume its slat, and not sheetrock.

My question to you experienced guys is: Can this be repaired? I dabble, but this is way beyond anything Ive done.

Could it be jacked up and shimmed/repaired for a price? Or should I just walk away?

Thanks for any opinions, guys.
Forest
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Old 10-23-2009, 06:39 AM   #2
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Almost anything can be leveled for a price. A couple of things I would check. Look to see that the sill plate and ring joists have not rotted away, which would create a sag and be an indication of water infiltration. Look at the foundation walls for any buckle or shift. Look at the exterior grade. If water has been travelling to and against the east end of the structure it could be causing a settlement issue. Look at the roof structure as well to see how far things have pulled apart. You could easily get plenty of expense involved in jacking something like this. If you are really interested in this property, it would be in your best interest to get a building inspector to look at it, or a structural engineer. Even a good reputable contractor may be able to give you an idea of what has happened and how extensive the repair will be.
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Old 10-23-2009, 06:50 AM   #3
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we did our 1850 home on the same foundation walls - no footer, just walls as your find,,, raised it 1/2" & plac'd new conc footer & walls under it,,, had 2 friends in the Shrine who were house movers,,, these jobs appear much more difficult than they are in the end,,, good luck !

only you can decide if its worth it or not but if it were ' the house ', good negotiating points when buying,,, remember all of 6's points, too !
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Old 10-23-2009, 11:31 AM   #4
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Your post indicates that there is a slant on the second floor. This may not have anything to do with foundation settlement. The best way to determine the condition of a house such as the one you are looking at is to perform a detailed investigation of the elevation of all critical points on the house. I recommend using a fluid level (the one I have is manufactured by the Zip level company, however this is NOT a specific endorsement of that brand).

You need the know the elevation of the top of the foundation approximately every five feet around the house, floor elevations at quarter points, and main beam elevations. You then draw a contour map of the elevations, and an experienced engineer, architect or contractor can tell where the settlement has occurred (if settlement is the problem), and can then develop a rational plan for repair. Only after the repair plan has been completed can you estimate the cost to perform the repair. It may turn out that the simplest, least costly approach is to live with the out of level condition.
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Old 10-23-2009, 11:46 AM   #5
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Is this a brick house? More difficult if brick but any house can be leveled for a price.
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Old 10-23-2009, 01:23 PM   #6
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Holey Moley, you guys know your stuff! :o

All my observations were in a 10 minute walk-through with an agent, so my exam wasn't thorough at all. House needed plenty of work, which I could probably fumble through, but the slant of the structure, was most worrying.

Main6-
Sill did not look good in the few spots I saw. Mostly surrounded with wild shrubs and old painted siding though. How would you recommend I examine this? Im not a constructor, so Im not sure what to look for. Poke it to look for rot? Measure thickness in various spots to look for "squish"?

The foundation walls were hard to view, as there was tons of storage in the basement.

Struc Engineer seems the like the best bet.

itsreallyconc

Do they dig full basements in ATL? I've seen them jack a house on shows like "flip this house", but they were always above ground, on pads/footers. Good to know.
As for the negotiating, I am sure thats why it has been on the market for 120+ days. Nobody wants to deal with this, when they can buy a new cookie-cutter house for the same price.

Dan
Wow. Again it looks like Struc Engineer is my best bet.

Joed
Wood siding. Here are a few pictures from the listing:
(New roof ASAP!)
http://tours.advirtours.com/tours/11...s/gallery.html
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Old 10-23-2009, 06:38 PM   #7
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From a non expert that house looks like a piece of cake to pickup for an experienced house mover. Don't know how much damage to expect inside. Could some if a lot of work done with house out level to make compensation for the problems.

An onsite inspection from a expert would be recommended.
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Old 10-28-2009, 08:55 PM   #8
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You definately need to get up close and inspect the sill plates, foundation walls and posts in the basement. Who knows what is hiding behind all the storage? A walk around the outside and a firm push here and there with a car key could reveal a soft spot at the base of the wall. From the pictures, the house doesn't look bad. It is a shame if it has a structural issue.
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Old 10-28-2009, 10:13 PM   #9
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Wow! Fine looking house!

Get someone out to look the structure over. Might be worth the expense,If you know a contractor(or have a friend that does) often a contractor will do a pre purchase opinion for free,knowing that you will likely use him if you buy.--MIKE--
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Old 10-29-2009, 10:35 PM   #10
 
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nice looking house. Have you checked the first floor to see if it is level, if it is level, then the problem is between the first and second floor and maybe not a foundation problem. If the first floor is level, check the ceiling of the first floor, if it is also level, then the problem is on the second floor, could just be a plate problem that the second floor joists are set on. Take a good level with you (the longer, the better) and try and determine where the unlevelness starts.
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Old 11-13-2009, 12:07 PM   #11
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Just as a side note, did you know your home is almost identical to Amelia Earhart's birthplace in Atchison, KS? It was built in 1861.
www.ameliaearhartmuseum.org
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Old 11-13-2009, 04:05 PM   #12
 
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The reason the house slopes is that the foundation has, and will contiue to, move. Either buy it and enjoy the wavy floors or take some the money you saved with the great price and have a new foundation installrd.
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