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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hello folks,

I started out on the forum about 4 or 5 years ago and learned alot.
I have not been around for quite a while, but I have a question or twenty.


I may be purchasing a home to remodel and there are many problems with it.
It is a 100-140 year old house built in a coal town.

It is a semi detached so I think my options are limited to an extent.

The problem in a nut shell is tilted floors or sagging on one side.
THe first floor is actually not bad and probably does not need to be fixed.
There may be a 2 inch +/- drop that is livable from side to side of the width
LR and Kitchen, hardly noticable, but even so, livable.

THe major problem is the 2nd floor.
The 2 bedrooms are unlevel to say the least.
We are talking about (without measuring) about a 6"+ drop in 8 foot or so.
THE lower side is the side of the neighboring house.
I think the jacking is out of question, as the house is over 100 yrs old, and the sagging may continue, but it has gone far enough for jacking, at least cost vs value of the home.

My question would have to be based on legal building codes, as I have talked with the neighbor, and he has told me the code inspector can be a real pita.

What would be the best way to make the floors level?
Could/Should I rip up all the old hardwood and shim with equally wide joists?Then lay down a new subfloor?
The joists are about 2 1/2 by 6 actually size
Or should I lay new joists/shims over the exsisting?

I believe on the two 2nd floor BR's would need this attention.

Please give me your thoughts....

THanks,
Rob
 

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Good evening Rob.

It's hard to give you advice with very much specificity without seeing all of the existing conditions. A few thoughts come to mind:

I'd want to know what caused 6" of fall in the floor before doing anything. (I'd also want to know about the 2" on the first floor as well). Something was not structurally sound when the house was built--or worse, something has made it deteriorate over its lifetime and will continue to do so.

Is the fall on the first floor in the same direction as the fall on the first? Are we talking solid brick exterior walls with pocketed wood joists, or?

Sistering or laying a new floor over the existing won't work without proper load transfer to ground.

Is there similar fall in the unit next door?
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Hey Chris,

To start off,
These houses were built very quickly as the industrious coal region was in its hay day.
This unit is the end home of row houses.
I talked with the neighbor who has been living and remodeling his house (the one connected)
He has explained to me what he has done and what is causing this.
The foundation is comparable to 150 yr old house that was not built for quality.
His unit was unlevel also same connecting side.
He fixed his floors by placing shims on top of existing. I think his drop was similar but not quite extreme.
The foundation is stone, same that is in most houses in PA.
I do think the sagging may be continuing, but after 120 yrs or so, Both houses may be holding each other up???

The same direction is on the first floor.
The exterior walls are assumed stick built not brick
I may be wrong, but I dont think fire wall is in play between the two units.


THanks,
Rob
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
To be honest, I did not measure for drop, so the 6 inch may be overboard.
It is just enough to may you think you are drunk or something when walking parallel.
It could be 3 or 4 inch for the 8 ft wide.
No major wall cracking on the first floor to think that the wall is giving.
 

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Hmmm... Looks like a hot mess down there. No offense.

Adding lumber to level the floor may fix things in the short term, but could make the problem worse if the issue is a deteriorating foundation. (Or if the existing floor isn't tied to the perimeter walls properly.)

What is the wall between your neighboring unit made of? How is it constructed?

It probably will require an engineer's visit to really give you a viable, long term solution. My suspicion is that it will involve pouring footings in the basement against the partition foundation, posting off of those and installing beams parallel to the partition wall to support the first floor--and a similar beam stacked and posted over it to support the second. The sizing of the whole system (concrete footing, posts, beam, sisters, etc.) is not something I'd ball park or build "from the hip".
 

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I'm suspicious that the problem is the floor system doesn't tie into the partition wall--but is merely hung off of it by a band joist. But that's just a guess.

You mentioned your neighbor had done some work--did you have a chance to see the floor system without plaster on the ceiling?

Do you have a picture in the basement where the first floor ties into the partition foundation wall?
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
Chris,

would it be reasonable to put in a few posts from the basement floor to the joists of the first floor to stop the settlement.
And if so, would they have to be footers with concrete in the ground?

As you can see in the pic, the floor is dirt.

I am not sure on the partiton wall, it is the same foundation as you see in the pic.
As for the 1st and 2nd floor, guessing it would be 2x6 studs or so with lathe and plaster

this home is a gut buster, we are talking about $2k to buy (I am into quality, this is not a do everything 100%) stuffing about $3-5k into it and selling for $12-$15k
Not the best for remodeling.

What do you mean by "build from the hip"?
 

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Hmmm...doesn't show a whole lot.

Building from the hip would be me telling you to use an X size beam installed over a Y sized footer with Z sized posts supporting it... I'm not an engineer, and even if I were I can't see everything bearing down on your floor system and don't know how it's all put together.

I'm just guessing at the problem and it's difficult to really assess how to fix it without crawling around in the house from stem to stern, keel to crows nest.
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
I think perhaps the partition wall has the weight of both houses and has sunk, probably many many years ago. May still be settling.
THis house i believe was built years (5, maybe 20 yrs) after the neighbor.

Could this, being an addition to the row of homes, added to the soft ground? As if the foundation was built on soft ground and perhaps backfilled with the neighbor, but when digging for the foundation...it was still layed on softer ground??

But with the neighbor sinking also, just normal settling?
The actual neighbor did say that the unlevel floor is common for coal towns (and he def knew what he was talking about, being a resident and contractor)
 

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Rob,

Even though it involves the floor, you would get a better response in the carpentry section, maybe framing. You could also try the remodeling section.

First things first....Clean the junk out of the celler so you can see and actully do something. Chit's gonna be in your way trying to swing lumber around anyways. You can be thankful it has a cellar rather than just a crawl space. Would be nice to see how the joists are resting on the foundation
 

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Discussion Starter · #19 ·
Well, I will need to look into the foundation a little more.
I was needing to know by code if it would be ok to just shim the floor and whether or not to go on top of exsisting or
rip it up and go over joists.

I will know in the next day or so if I will be purchasing or not.


Thanks,
Rob
 

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I would suggest pulling a string along the floor/joists to measure the amount of deflection to get an idea how much the floor joists are contributing or if they are a factor. first inclination is the wall has settled but rule out moisture/insect damage to partition wall which could have 'collapsed' the finished height of the floor.

best fix would be a couple of footings, posts, new beam to hold the first floor joists-then cut slowly lift them, cut the joists from the sunken wall and keep jacking. this should level the first floor-then jack up the 2nd floor wall (carry load bearing beam down upon another load bearing beam for jacking purposes) and install a new 2x4 partiation wall. 2nd floor ceiling could be left alone....if you wish. one would have to be 'careful' not to lift the components connected to the partition wall/neighboring house.
 
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