Replacing Foundation on Shed/Cottage

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Old 01-22-14, 10:11 AM
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Replacing Foundation on Shed/Cottage

We recently bought a brick home built in 1962. It came with the nicest "shed" I have ever seen in the backyard. It's approximately 25x25 and has stairs inside up to the second floor loft. The shed currently has no utilities or sheetrock, but has 4 windows on each floor and some insulation. It's approximately 30 years old and was built by the only other owner of the house who was a carpenter.

Our plan is to turn this shed into a 1 bedroom cottage to rent out for extra income. The problem is that the foundation is a series of 6x6 pressure treated posts presumably on concrete footings and most of them are rotting. I believe the cause of the rot is a combination of the lack of gutters so that the roof water falls directly down to right next to the posts as well as the slight grade of the small yard towards the shed. I realize that these issues will need to be addressed.

The current "crawl space" is VERY tight. On the lowest side it is only an inch or two from the ground and the highest side is a little over a foot. Since I need to run plumbing, I would like to lift the shed when replacing the foundation and have a proper sized crawl space.

Should I replace the posts with new 6x6's and then put up skirting of some type for aesthetics? Or should I use a block foundation? What are the pros and cons of each?

Is lifting this building something I can do with some friends and jacks, or do I need to hire a house moving company?

What other aspects should I be considering? Any guess at the ball-park cost of replacing the foundation?

Thanks in advance for your knowledge and help!
 
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Old 01-23-14, 02:43 AM
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If it was mine, I'd go with a concrete foundation--either concrete block on CIP footings, or even integral CIP concrete footings/stemwalls. You need to determine if concrete footings are already there; if sound, they could possibly be incorporated into your new foundation. Foundation costs will run several thousand $$, minimum, but can only be accurately determined by shopping around for local material and labor sources. Rebuilding the foundation with timber means it will eventually need to be replaced again, possibly even in your lifetime.

Lifting the beast is another matter, and depends on what the framing consists of and knowing where the lift points need to be. Having been built by a carpenter means the framing is probably quite stout, a point in your favor. The last thing you need is for the structure to collapse like a pile of match sticks as you're trying to get it off the ground.

Have a few local house moving outfits take a look at it, and give you quotes for lifting it for you. You'll learn a lot about the process by just talking to them, and one or more might float you a number that will convince you to use their services. Should you decide to DIY, be prepared to rent some heavy building jacks and heavy timbers--a 6-ton bottle jack and some 2 x 4s will not be adequate. Also, you need to bring the local AHJ into the picture early in the process, as they will certainly require a building permit and possibly formal, stamped plans for the revised structure, developed by a professional engineer.
 
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Old 01-23-14, 09:49 AM
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Thanks for your input BridgeMan. I am/was leaning towards concrete myself. I figured block would be easier and cheaper than CIP concrete, but it would certainly look better and be less prone to issues down the road.

You also had a good idea about picking the brains of some movers here to give a quote. I tried googling for house movers in my area, but could only come up with furniture movers.

I know about the inspections and permits. My wife works in Neighborhood Development Services for the city, so she's friends with all the inspectors which was awesome when we renovated the house (I had never seen permits issued and inspections conducted same day every time). I thought about picking their brain too, or at least asking them if they know any house movers I could call. Hopefully, they don't require me to hire an engineer.
 
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Old 01-23-14, 10:42 AM
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I think you will have an interesting time with zoning and building permits. Your shed was probably previously considered a temporary structure and not subject to most zoning and permit requirements. Converting a temporary structure into a permanent one will probably have people scratching their heads a bit to figure what rules will apply.

The building's location will have to be documented and all setback requirements will have to be met, probably requiring a zoning permit. Then there is the building itself. Since it was never previously a permanent structure will the Building Inspections Dept. require that it meet building codes or will they grandfather the building's structure. Plumbing, electrical and HVAC almost certainly will have to meet current codes as none of those systems previously existed. Using it as a residence, temporary or not will mean that you'll have to meet egress requirements for the bedrooms. Hopefully the existing windows are large enough.

Like Bridgeman45 I would lean toward a concrete or block cmu foundation. The question is where will you locate it. If you want to keep it where it is I would hire a house moving company to move it out of the way so excavation for the footers and the foundation walls could be easily built. Then have the building placed back on the foundation. The shed could be lifted but it would have to be high enough to permit work underneath and the support for the building would have to be clear of the footer work area. Having a structure overhead could really drive up the footer cost as it will limit the ability to use equipment for the excavating.
 
 

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