Michigan Basement, trouble with concrete walls.

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Old 12-10-13, 09:50 AM
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Michigan Basement, trouble with concrete walls.

Hello everyone! This is my first post here, thank you in advance for any help.

My wife and I just bought an old 1929 home in Michigan, and the basement is, well, pretty neglected (to put it nicely). It has concrete walls that are sort of crumbling, but nothing that looks bad structurally. The biggest problem area is the entry to the basement, which literally looks like someone took a sledgehammer to it and called it good. Or used dynamite.

Here is a picture.

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There is a 2x8 laying flat on top of the concrete, and its sort of bending. Any advice for this situation? We would like to clean it up a little bit and reenforce that board, but I'm not sure where to start...

Thanks!
Zack
 
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Old 12-10-13, 10:54 AM
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I assume the bending wood you are talking about is the sill plate across the top of the opening. That is definitely not correct especially with a double floor joist (indicating a heavier load). That 2x8 is lying horizontally, the weak direction, and supporting three floor joists that I can see in the picture. The bending indicates that it is overloaded so, not good. You can also see the block in the upper left is cracking under the load since much of it is unsupported.

I would expand the opening with nice straight saw cuts and install a header. The header could be supported from the cement wall or framed with jack and king studs which would allow you to install a door if you want. The big concern would be the loss of headroom through the doorway but even so, something has to be done to support that sill plate.
 
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Old 12-10-13, 11:05 AM
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Zack --- welcome to the forum.

By chance did you have a home inspection done before buying the house ? I would suspect you didn't or the inspector would have red flagged this issue.

Just based on that one photo and without seeing things in detail --- I would suspect the stairs are part of some sort of addition --- perhaps a rear entrance ?

You're correct , it definately looks as though a DIYer went at it with a sledge hammer without any consideration to being a structural concern.

It's difficult to tell for sure , but it would appear those joists ( especially the doubler ) and rim joist would have been resting on the older existing section that's missing. Instead you mentioned a 2X8 on the flat is spanning the opening --- some misguided attempt to provide structural support which it isn't enough.
The ducting that encroaches into the stairway is another sign of poor and misguided planning.
Also , it appears to be some sort of bowing inward towards the bottom ( left in the photo ) of the stairs.

Sorry to be blunt --- In my opinion this appears to be concerns enough to enlist the services of a structural engineer to appraise the situation first hand.
Judging by this example you might be finding other questionable things through the home.

2 cents worth.
 
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Old 12-10-13, 01:23 PM
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I'd definitely clean up the opening and install a header to support the load! If loss of headroom is going to be a big concern - check into using steel for a header, I'm not overly familiar with steel headers/beams but you might be able to save some height that way.
 
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Old 12-10-13, 04:28 PM
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Thanks so much for the advice.

Canuk, we did have it inspected, I guess he just missed this...Bummer. I appreciate your advice to seek professional help, and will definitely consider it if it seems like it's getting over my head. And you're right about there being other "surprises" elsewhere. There was definitely a hack-job handyman at work at some point in the house's history. Luckily it's nothing that can't be fixed.

I think I'll probably go with the installing a new header and cutting the blocks down approach. I already can't stand up in the basement, so headroom really isn't an issue.

Thanks again!
 
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Old 12-10-13, 04:44 PM
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Wow !!!
Then that inspector should be in a completely different line of work --- perhaps a Wal-mart greeter.

Good luck with your project.
 
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Old 12-11-13, 04:47 AM
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Who got the inspector? the realtor
 
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Old 12-11-13, 09:49 AM
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Zack DiVozzo
Canuk, we did have it inspected, I guess he just missed this...Bummer.
If this turns in to a total nightmare, your inspector should have insurance for missing something major, that is far more than just a Bummer.
 
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Old 12-11-13, 10:18 PM
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Sounds like you chose your inspector based on price and not much else. The doorway should be corrected as suggested by others, sizing the header to carry the applied loads from above. That's where an engineer can be a big help, but an experienced carpenter might also do an adequate job. I'd probably go with a thick-walled, tubular steel section or double channel steel header myself, supported by heavy timber columns. I'd also move the heat run.

Canuk, you're doing a big disservice to a lot of Walmart greeters.
 
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Old 12-12-13, 04:21 AM
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Canuk, you're doing a big disservice to a lot of Walmart greeters
I was thinking the same thing

If the inspector was picked/recommended by the realtor - he likely didn't want to report anything that would hinder the sale ..... but you'd think he'd only go so far to protect his job source.
 
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Old 12-17-13, 12:12 PM
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Check your contract and document this carefully. AT MINIMUM you should be able to get your inspection fee back for this.

Lotta solid people in the home inspection business but also alot of of dirtiness and curruption. The relationship with realtors and inspectors is a big deal right now, a real ethical issue. Alot of the better inspectors refuse to have any relationship with realtors and it's generally a good idea not to let your realtor refer you to one.

Realtors tend to stick with the ones that like to 'play ball' and not to screw up the sale. In fact if I were you I would go back over the house and start carefully documenting and photographing everything he missed prior to fixing any of it. If any doubt, bring in another inspector and have him do a separate report. There are ones who hire themselves out specifically for situations like this. Could be a gross negligence case here if there are visible major defects all over the house that the first guy ignored.
 
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