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Marine Electrician (LO)
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36 Posts
Discussion Starter #1
Hello folks.

Ever since Hurricane Katrina back in '05, the cinderblock/concrete support under my house that runs through the middle hallway and kitchen has sunken down a bit near the end, so that the corner support that joins the front room with the kitchen has dropped down about 2-3 inches, and it appears as a large depression in the floor, and the ceiling bows downwards as well.

Thing is, I want to re-floor the kitchen and renovate the walls in that area, and I need to have this part repaired. I know that any change to the foundation or supports under the house can have pretty drastic results sometimes, but this is a slight height increase in one part, so I don't think it should be too big or expensive an undertaking.

I need to know where to start on this. I want to hire someone to take a look at it and tell me what the best course of action might be, but I don't know who I should talk to, or what I should know ahead of talking to someone.

If anyone has any suggestions on where to start, and who I should talk to, I would appreciate it.
 

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flipping slumlord
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5,116 Posts
Ever since Hurricane Katrina back in '05...
kitchen has sunken down a bit near the end... about 2-3 inches

I want to hire someone to take a look at it...
and tell me what the best course of action might be
Good. Basically that support needs to be replaced or at least re-built...
with the house re-leveled when set onto that new support.

And you should get 2 or 3 in to suggest a specific remedy.
 

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Marine Electrician (LO)
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36 Posts
Discussion Starter #3
But who do I talk to? General contractor? Structural Engineer? Inspector?
 

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Civil Engineer
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5,832 Posts
Usually I suggest a structural engineer, but if this is only one support, it may not be worth it. The key is to have a decent footing under the pier, which obviously you don't have, or it would not have settled in the first place. Unfortunately, the deep south is notorious for weak, expansive clay soils, which is likely what you have, so the process of installing a strong footing is not as simple as it would be if you had better soils.

In general, the approach is to temporarily support the house at the location of the pier, remove the pier, and construct a footing adequate to support the pier. This is tricky, because usually you have little space between the soil and the house, so partial removal of framing may be necessary. Since most people lack the money to do this, the common fix is to level the house by jacking the house to level, and installing shims between the pier and the framing. This lasts for a few years, then you do it again. There is an entire industry built around levelling houses, you do a search on "house levelling" and you will find dozens of contractors in your area who specialize in this.

There are specialty contractors who install helical piers, which are basically large screws that go deep into the ground, and replace the pier. Again, access is the biggest issue. There are also companies that do "mud jacking", which is a technique to inject grout (thin concrete) underneath the pier, which raises it, and when the grout cures, you have a reasonably solid footing.

If you are doing the entire house, it is probably worth it to hire a structural engineer to examine the house and suggest the best solution. For one pier, you may be able to do this yourself, if you are VERY CAREFUL to adequately support the house while you shim under the pier. This is harder than it sounds, because you have to go slowly (else you crack everything), and you need a solid support for the jack, so if you have ANY DOUBTS at all, hire a house leveling company.
 
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