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Discussion Starter #1
This is my first post in this forum. We have this 70 year old house that is badly in need of some serious TLC. The first step is to replace the 20 wood columns. Due to different floodings, the lower part of the columns have rotten due to water damage. My questin is:

1) What is the correct procedure in order to change the 20 supporting columns.

2) How do you recommend to jack up the house?

3) How do you think that the columns are attached to the beams?

Your assistance is greatly appreciated. The pics are self explanatory
 

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If the posts are rotted, replace them, one by one.
Why would you need to to raise the structure, has it dropped?
 

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Discussion Starter #3
I was told I need to jack up and raise the structure when changing each column. Most of the columns have rotted on to bottom.

How do you believe that the columns are attached to the beams?
 

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I was told I need to jack up and raise the structure when changing each column. Most of the columns have rotted on to bottom.

How do you believe that the columns are attached to the beams?
They're probably nailed, but I would recommend upgrading the connection with a code recommended bracket.
I'd seek guidance from the local building dept as you'll likely need a permit for the renovations.
You might also need a structural plan.
 

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Thanks for the input! There are no building regulations nor building codes here in Guatemala. I do not have access to the building plans. This house was built by the United Fruit Company in 1940. A local contractor told me that the had to remove the ceiling next to the columns in order to get access to the top of the beam in order to remove the columns. I am under the impression that this in incorrect. The idea of using metal plates to join the columns with beams is a good idea.

What would be the correct procedure to remove each column and then who do I install the new ones. By the way I am going to put pressure treated wood.
 

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Thanks for the input! There are no building regulations nor building codes here in Guatemala. I do not have access to the building plans. This house was built by the United Fruit Company in 1940. A local contractor told me that the had to remove the ceiling next to the columns in order to get access to the top of the beam in order to remove the columns. I am under the impression that this in incorrect. The idea of using metal plates to join the columns with beams is a good idea.

What would be the correct procedure to remove each column and then who do I install the new ones. By the way I am going to put pressure treated wood.
If you're jacking up the entire perimeter of the house to get it level, you're in for a very large job. Depending on how high you need to go, you can extect some cracking on the floor above of walls and ceilings.
You will need a temporary support under each section as you jack the section up. I would do one side of the house at a time, starting with the worst section.
The temporary wall you build will be the height of the final position you want the floor to be. The wall will not stand up plumb until you have it jacked to the final position.
Once the support wall is in place, you can start switching out the posts.
Before you set the posts, make sure the base the posts are sitting on are solid. I saw cracks near the perimeter on one of the photos. If the foundation needs work, do it before the posts are in and the temporary wall is removed.
This will require an understanding of structure, loads and support. If you do not have these or do not know someone who can guide you, hire a pro. A miscalculation could cause a collapse of the structure.
I wouldn't call this a DIY project unless you have experience or proper guidance and help.

You would build a temporary support
 

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Discussion Starter #7
The recommendation made to me is to jack up each section where each column stands, so that a new column of the same length will easily slide in. Yes, some of the concrete bases need some work. I will hire someone to do the work. I really want to know what this job takes in order to know what has to be done. Your input is very appreciated!

The firstt contractor I took, told me ha had to access the columns from the top of the beams, where he says the columns are anchored to. I did slide my hand on the top of the beam and I did not feel any bolt that goes through the beam into the column. Do you belive that galvanized steel plates are enough to join the new columns wit the beams? Would you use bolts or large nails?
 

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If all the load is on the beam the post holds up, you can jack up the beam. Under the jack you should spread out the load on the floor with the use of cribbing.
There's a possibility that the post to beam connection has an internal fastening system. Having a few nails toenailed into the framing members doesn't seem adequate to hold up the building. The fastening system would be accessed from the top and would be covered by the flooring. If that's the case, you will need to open the areas above each post to get to them.
If there is no alternative system and it's just nails holding it together, I would do this:
After you jack up the beam so the load is off the post, I would take a reciprocating saw(with a metal blade) and run it between the top of the post and the beam, cutting all the fasteners.
The metal brackets should be heavy duty hot dipped galvanized metal and lag bolted(hot dipped galvanized) to the post and beam.
I'd look at the base connections as well and upgrade as needed.
 

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Guatemala has active seismic zones, and is of course subject to hurricanes. It appears your house may be on the coast, I could not tell from your posts. Since there are no building codes, you are clearly free to do whatever you or your contractor feel is best.

From the photos, it appears that the house is entirely held up by the columns. If you are in a flood zone, where the water can reach as high as the lower level of the house, it would be essential that the column to beam connection be adequate to prevent the house from floating away during a flood, leaving the columns behind. I am attaching a photograph of a house I inspected on the Lousiana coast after Hurricane Rita. I located this house approximately two miles from its original location. The wooden piles at the original location were completely intact, unfortunately the water got about 12 inches higher than the top of the piles, and the house was inadequately connected to the piles to resist uplift.

The problem of house uplift on piles is also a problem during high wind events, hence the need for an adequate connection between the columns and the beams. You may want to have the connection detailed by an engineer, or if such is not available, at least a knowledgeable local contractor. Simpson makes a line of brackets specifically for this type of connection, however they are not generally rated for uplift due to flood or hurricane. You or your contractor can discuss modifications to the fastening technique directly with Simpson, their representatives are knowledgeable and will talk. They may be willing to suggest ways to strengthen the connection if they feel the standard bracket and nails are not adequate for your specific location.
 

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Discussion Starter #10
The house is located on the shore of lake Amatitlán. The lake is at 3500ft above sea level. Last year we ha a flooding. The ground floor was under 3.5 feet of water for six months! The house is 8kms away from the crater of the Pacaya volcano. This is an active volcano and last year the property was covered by almost 2" of volcano gravel! I will post a picture for you to see how it was. (The water went higher than the attached picture)

Originally this house was built 20kms from the Pacific ocean. My grandfather disassembled numbered it and brought it to the lake. The house was built by the United Fruit Company in 1940. At that time this company had its headquarters in Boston.
 

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