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Old 03-07-2017, 05:31 PM   #1
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Moisture and Termites Damaging Subfloor


I am currently in a "unique" living situation. I currently reside in a garage/cowpen that has been converted into a small home. The owner added on a woodframe kitchen and bath while the majority of the construction is blocks. The whole structure is built on the downslope of a hill which has created some water management issues beneath the structure. What has happened for years is that during the rainy season the water floods under the wooden kitchen and bath but is stopped by the concrete foundation of the original structure. The rainwater builds up, causing water damage on the subfloor and walls of the wood frame structure.

The kitchen and bathroom section is 24 feet by 12 feet. The floor of the kitchen consists of 3/4 inch exterior grade plywood, 1/2 inch cementboard, and then vinyl tile over that. The floor of the bathroom is 3/4 inch plywood and then subfloor boards which are stained. The entire structure has soft spots in the floor, with most of the soft spots concentrated in the kitchen area. The bathroom floor has some sagging locations but I have literally stepped clean through the kitchen floor recently. For reference the floor was built nearly on grade which has compounded the water problems. The distance from floor to ground is a foot if not less.

My question is this, what do I do? I tore up the section of the floor I stepped through and inspected the joists which are fine. I noticed termite damage in the plywood so I treated the entire area. I then replaced the floor using new plywood and sistering in some pieces to support it. This has worked so far but there are new soft spots forming in high traffic areas. My thought process was to purchase a large piece of strong plywood, place it over the high traffic areas, and cover with a rug. I am not sure of what else to do short of replacing the whole floor.

Is there a better alternative that I have not thought of? Is there a strong but thin material that would be better suited for weight distribution than hardwood plywood or something?

Thank you for your time and your help!!
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Old 03-07-2017, 05:46 PM   #2
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Re: Moisture and Termites Damaging Subfloor


Are you just renting or do you own this?
If renting, move.
If you own it where going to need some pictures of the outside to better understand what the real issues are.
Not going to do any good to just try and just keep patching and not address what's causing it.
Had termites then you should have called in a real exterminator and had a real treatment not a DIY quick fix.
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Old 03-07-2017, 06:05 PM   #3
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Re: Moisture and Termites Damaging Subfloor


Its on my parents property, it used to be my dads office before he passed. I'm staying here because its financially the best situation for me after university. I would be more than happy to call an exterminator or an actual carpenter or something but, this is the big issue, none of this structure was approved by the city. It technically doesn't exist. My mother worries that if she were to call someone they would report us or something. I offered to hire a handyman off of craigslist but, you know how moms are, she is worried he might blackmail us or something crazy like that.

I am not sure what you mean by pictures of the outside of the structure. The main house is atop a hill, this house is 200 feet below it where the hill kind of levels out. The water flows from atop the hill down beneath the wood structure, it is then stopped by the concrete pad for the original house, causing water to just pool there until it stops raining. Does that make sense?

The bottom of the plywood was soft, covered in a fungus or mold, and the layers were separating from one another. They build a large french drain around the entire house to try to direct and pull some of the moisture out from under the house but I do not know if that is effective. Regardless the damage is already done. The joists and main boards seem fine, the floor itself is water damaged.

Thanks for your time.
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Old 03-07-2017, 06:17 PM   #4
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Re: Moisture and Termites Damaging Subfloor


You are in quite a mess, obviously. The flooring, being so close to grade, is an open invite to termites. My guess is that most of the floor is full of termites and termite damage. Removing it all and replacing would be your best option. Just taking out what appeared to be the worst of the damage, treating it, and covering it back up with new plywood is really like putting lipstick on a pig. To top it off, if you have mold, you are endangering your health both now and in the future. This really sounds like a place that should be demolished and done over correctly and with proper permitting. I wish there was an easier answer, but, with the moisture and termite issues, you are stuck.
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Old 03-07-2017, 06:58 PM   #5
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Re: Moisture and Termites Damaging Subfloor


I sympathize with your situation greatly. I found myself in almost the identical situation, 5 years ago-inherited a house that needed (still does!) a lot of work after my mother passed away. I slowly learned, and completely some major repairs, including repairing some severe termite damage. In reference to your concern about someone "reporting" your unpermitted structure...that almost certainly won't happen-I can't imagine a scenario where a licensed contractor would go to the city/county specifically for the purpose of reporting non-permitted work.
It sounds like the floor structure of your "addition" is in very bad shape. Most likely, the majority of it should be completely replaced. Do you have to live in the structure? I ask, because the repairs you need to do to it are invasive.
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Old 03-08-2017, 10:05 AM   #6
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Re: Moisture and Termites Damaging Subfloor


He is right to be concerned.
I had a "kindly" neighbor turn us in for storm damage we didn't even know about to a _vacant_ property (1/4 acre lot, just outside the town). Later same neighbor was using the lot to park his utility trailer.
Far better to go to the municipal inspector's office and talk to a designated official. They may, especially in a senior/death of spouse situation grandfather in the structure _if_ he demonstrates convincingly that it is being made right. Being graduated but out of work is a very good codical to his argument for grandfathering and a card I would definitely play. It's worth a shot!
Good luck, by the way.
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