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Advice on raising a brick foundation for 1912 craftsman

Advice on raising a brick foundation for 1912 craftsman


Old 08-17-08, 02:16 PM
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Advice on raising a brick foundation for 1912 craftsman

I'm about to close on a Craftsman home built in 1912 with a brick foundation. The crawlspace area is decent and I'm not a very thick guy.... so I should be ok in that respect.

The front 1/4-1/3 of the house seems level and good to go, but begins to slope after what appears to be the first load bearing wall and gradually continues (fairly evenly) to the back of the house where an addition was built quite sometime ago.

I've had 3 guys inspect the foundation who all said very different things. I finally went under the house with the 3rd guy to see for myself. Had I not pointed out some things, I don't think he ever would've noticed them.

Going under the house was very eye-opening. The construction is far simpler than I would've ever thought.....girders, joists, a vertical 4 x 4 to a pile of 4 stacked bricks. Wow, this thing has been in Los Angeles through riots, fires, and tons of earthquakes over nearly the past century and all sitting on a pile of 4 bricks!

Originally, I thought of leveling on the really low spots, but now I'm thinking that I may as well just do it right over several months and level the beast from front to back. I read up on 20 ton jacks, steel plates to distribute the load and the maximum of raising it by 1/8" per day.

It's 2 stories, and I know there's a formula for distributing the load and adjusting to accomodate the 2nd story, but here's my biggest question.....

How large of a portion do I attempt to raise/level at once? ....a 5' x 5' or 10' x 10' or the next obvious load bearing area or do I just get a ton of jacks and do it all at once?....I really don't know how to estimate that.

And, what increment can I raise a single section in before I move to the next section 1/2"....1"?

I know the plaster will likely crack which is ok as there will also be plumbing and electrical upgrades to follow.

I suspect this will take me a few months from start to finish so for now, please help me develop a plan of attack!


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Old 08-17-08, 02:24 PM
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Advice on raising a brick foundation for 1912 craftsman

Are you trying to raise the hosue anf fix the foundation in local spots or are you trying to raise the foundation. you seem to talk about leveling the house, which is dangerous and costly. If you are trying to correct the reason for the settlement/failure that could really get costly if it involves the soil/site or a basic problem with the structure that overloads the foundation in areas.

You may think you can point out things to local "guys" but I really doubt you have an idea of the extent of what your are looking at?

Since you are closing on the house, do you have the $20,000 to $40,000 necessary set aside to do the job correctly and finally get a permit?

No one really cares how long the house managed to survive, but the bottom line is that there are problems that are very expensive to correct for the future owners. I assume you plan to sell it in the future and want the adequacy of the repairs to affect the future of the structure.

Old 08-17-08, 02:59 PM
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Thanks for the reply Dick!

I have plenty of cash, that's not the problem. So far I've had 2 foundation guys & a contractor who have worked on similar types of homes who have all said very different things. I have 2 more lined up to look at it after we close. If they were saying the same thing, I don't think I'd have any quesitons.

The foundation isn't to code, so I don't know how much less to code I could make it by doing it myself. I'll pull permits if I have to, but if memory serves I'm not required to for this...I will look into it. I, also, don't believe the city is going to give me permits to repair portions of the brick foundation without doing the whole thing...so there may no be permits involved at all.

I've looked at leveling spots and then the house as a whole. The addition was an obvious point of failure along with a cracked girder.

At it's lowest point, it's about 2.5" low, but that's where they destroyed the sill from the original part of the house to run plumbing to the addition. What I'm thinking at this point, is that I'll fix the obvious failures and level those parts to see how that effects the rest of the house. Again, no hurry....1/16" per day is my current plan to raise it.

I'm attempting to work out a plan here... If it gets beyond the scope of what myself and my local construction buddies can handle, I'll pay a guy. But if none of the licensed/bonded/insured guys can give me a similar answer to any of the others, that points to it being best for me to do my own homework and make my own decisions on what I want done.

Maybe eventually I'll convert the foundation to something modern, but I'm not in a huge hurry. I have no plans to sell the property as I've been living in these craftsmans for about 12 years now, this is just the only one I've had with foundation issues. All the others are brick as well and they're as level as I can expect anything 100 years old to be.

There's no obvious moisture under the property. Proper drainage was added at some point. That could be responsible for the current settling depending on when it was added. I don't have a good way to know.

The sill needs a thorough inspection to see if I missed anything , which I'll probably do next week.

Anyone else have suggestions?
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