Stepped Foundation Walls In 1924 Home

 
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Old 11-18-2016, 12:40 AM   #1
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Stepped Foundation Walls In 1924 Home


Hello,

I am doing some research on the possibility of adding a second story onto my 1924 home. I am trying to gain some insight on what the 2 to 3 foot wide 48" tall stepped sections adjacent to my basement wall are for. They go around the perimeter of 3 of the 4 basement walls. Were these added to the home some time after its initial construction while turning a crawlspace into a full height basement? Or do they have some other purpose?, i.e to function as a type of footer for the foundation walls? Here is a photo of my basement.Thanks in advance for any input on this.
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Old 11-18-2016, 04:29 AM   #2
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Re: Stepped Foundation Walls In 1924 Home


We can only make assumptions, I never seen anyone doing that, but who knows who did that and what were they thinking.
Maybe they didn't expected so much dirt to come out, so they left some dirt around perimeter,formed around it and filled it with concrete or whatever they used there or maybe they were afraid existing crawlspace foundation caving in after dirt was removed, so they did that to provide additional support... WTF knows what they were thinking.

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Old 11-18-2016, 06:14 AM   #3
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Re: Stepped Foundation Walls In 1924 Home


I've seen that don't to older foundations in an attempt to sure up a degrading stone foundation. Usually only go as high as the grade outside. Also to stop water penetration through the failed mortar.


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Old 11-18-2016, 06:52 AM   #4
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Re: Stepped Foundation Walls In 1924 Home


Regardless of why someone did that, you will need to dig some test pits to verify what the existing footer conditions are. Then consult with a PE and get his take on whether your existing foundation is capable of handling the increased load of a second story.

Anything else is just speculation.
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Old 11-18-2016, 07:13 AM   #5
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Re: Stepped Foundation Walls In 1924 Home


Lots of time it was done on older houses with no real basement just a hole for the furnace. Then people decided to do a basement ,dug them out and did a wall like that to hold back the dirt and foundation of the old walls. Very common around here to see.
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Old 11-18-2016, 08:11 AM   #6
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Re: Stepped Foundation Walls In 1924 Home


We would need more information before we could advise you. There are several possibilities.
1) The inside wall carried the original building and a porch or addition was added later.
2) Someone made a crawl space into a basement.
3) It was originally built as a basement with porch around the perimeter and at some time someone replaced porch columns with a stemwall.
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Old 11-18-2016, 08:37 AM   #7
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Re: Stepped Foundation Walls In 1924 Home


Ok, I will get out there and dig a few pits to see what the circumstance is with those 3 walls. As I said before, however, this stepping is only done on 3 of the 4 foundation walls. So 1 of them I can see goes to the floor of the basement (84" H). This I find strange...

There was an addition to the home maybe 40 years ago, but its footprint extends beyond the footprint of the basement walls. It sits on 4x4s supported by concrete blocks (something I will change)
Thanks
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Old 11-18-2016, 09:06 AM   #8
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Re: Stepped Foundation Walls In 1924 Home


All of the ones I've seen that on had unstable stone foundations that were encased in concrete.
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Old 11-18-2016, 11:36 AM   #9
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Re: Stepped Foundation Walls In 1924 Home


Well from the digging I've done so far, the soil here is pretty rocky. So this seems to correspond with your experience. Then those steps are probably solid concrete all the way back to the exterior foundation walls?
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Old 11-18-2016, 11:58 AM   #10
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Re: Stepped Foundation Walls In 1924 Home


. While not definitive (you need an architect/structural engineer), those are quite common place where you are digging adjacent to an existing foundation wall for the purpose of things like making a cellar/basement where there was only a crawl space, or to increase ceiling height.

You have some other items that are somewhat strange going on as well.
Whats going on with that beam support? It looks as if the concrete was formed around the post a little bit. Looks like some reinforcing work was done previously, it is possible that the house had shifted previously, maybe due to inadequate foundation. It is also possible they decided to fix the problem, and while "they were in there" decided to dig out a little more.

What is the black piping in pic 1? And what is that pipe opening in pic 2?
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Old 11-18-2016, 05:58 PM   #11
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Re: Stepped Foundation Walls In 1924 Home


So In the first photo you are just seeing the old carburetor from my truck hanging down off the ledge, things are a bit messy as ive just moved in 2 months ago...

The posts are not cemented in. What you are seeing is actually blue-gray paint that ended up on the post when they painted the foundation walls.

The pipe in the second photo is a remnant of what I believe was an incinerator or coal furnace of some sort. It was built into the stepped section of the wall. Here are some additional photos. One of them pictures the inside of this "furnace". The walls, at least in this section, do extend all the way down to the floor of the basement. The space is comprised of cinder blocks.

As far as I can tell, the current basement heights was always this high. The cement composition and texture seems consistent throughout. I dont think the stepped walls were from a crawlspace being converted into a full heights space, but I could be mistaken.

I will consult a structural engineer.
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Old 11-18-2016, 06:08 PM   #12
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Re: Stepped Foundation Walls In 1924 Home


The more I look at things, The most I think all the walls are cinderblock cover with cement.
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Old 11-18-2016, 08:14 PM   #13
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Re: Stepped Foundation Walls In 1924 Home


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