bracing my porch?


Old 09-14-02, 08:48 AM
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bracing my porch?

The front porch (which is sort of a wrap-around I guess it's called) on my "old" house is pulling away. I think the problem is the front part is sinking. The posts between the porch and the roof are "kicking out".

The same thing is happening on the smaller porch by the door.

I am an older woman, my husband is now in a Nursing Home and I don't have money to pay to have work done. I don't really have money to live on, so buying materials is a problem, too. I think maybe at this point I have to do what I can with what I have. Like, trying to brace the porch, instead of rebuilding it. I have an idea of how it needs to be jacked up in the front, and cinderblocks or something put under it, but not sure it's something I could do myself. Also, I'd have to rent jacks and buy blocks, (and currently don't have a car, which makes THAT harder).

I was looking at the porch from a distance, and it seems like if I could cut a board (I have several 2X4's) and wedge it in between the roof and the bottom (or on the railing that goes around part way up) on the corners it might help. I know it won't put it back in place but might give it some support and take the weight of the roof off it somewhat.

I took a picture showing both porches and the problem, and where I'd like to put the brace boards.

Could I post the picture on here?

I have felt really overwhelmed by all that needs doing here, but since I found this board, I now feel I can maybe get some things done myself.

My daughter and I just put a cord of split wood in the barn and stacked it, doing a little at a time.

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Old 09-15-02, 04:39 PM
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bracing my porch?


I'm afraid that what you are describing is something that should be looked at by someone with experience and the manpower.

This formum would like to help but the issue here is structural, and defects causing the problems may be footings sinking or lack of footings. It appears that we have an older home that is in need of major repair. The structure should be inspected by someone who can give good information on what is going on and what should be done. I would suggest this and really consider the options available. Spending little money and endangering yourself is not a good deal. Seek professional help and advice first.

I hope that you undertand that SAFETY here is most important and what you describe requires the know-how and labor to resolve. I give you all the credit in the world to try and resolve this yourself but there is a point when DIY ideas will not be sufficient for proper repairs. Safety is always a concern here on the forums and making suggestions knowing that you will try to resolve this yourself does cause me to worry.

Good luck!
Old 09-15-02, 06:09 PM
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I understand this

It's not a question of saving a little money and not being safe.

It's the idea of not having enugh money to pay the bills, buy food and heat, PERIOD.

So in a way it's more deciding between trying to do something to brace it, and letting it eventually fall apart.

The front of the porch is sinking and needs to be jacked up and a new foundation, cinder blocks, or something put in.

Maybe people who have enough money to live on AND call a contractor to come and work on their house think it's just a matter of saving money and not being safe.

It's not like I'm going to go on vacation to Aruba, and scrimp on repairing the house.

I can probably ask around here, this is the country and not eveyone always has money to do things RIGHT.

Sometimes we just have to do what we can, the best we can.

At least until we hit the lottery....
Old 09-17-02, 11:39 PM
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cheap is my middle name.. i used to be a finance major!

alright if the problem is the footings id go with sonotubes (quikrete tubes around here) they are cheap like 4 bucks. Now you need to dig holes for them to go into below your local frost line and flare the bottoms. You could do them one at a time. Once you have your pier set you want to use 4x4 treated wood post to raise the front of your deck so its back in level. You dont need a special jack to lift your deck. Good old car bottle jacks will do it just set them on sturdy ground or a wide board and off you go. That may be all it needs if the posts arent rotted or anything. Just bringing the "sag" out of it. Seriously you could do it for under $100 bucks if its not alot of posts.

You can do it for free too, but that requires a truck, the cover of darkness, and "stealth mode" Also cement blocks weigh like 55 pounds so dont hurt yourself.

I never advocate stealing but ya gotta do what ya gotta do.
Actually maybe you could bargain with a local habitat for humanity or local trade school sort ofgroup to do the work for you free for practice?

As an aside DIY has a finance forum, and if you own alot of property (as typical in the country) have you considered getting government easements? You can get them for timber, crops all kinda crap. Might help you out.

Hope this helps-Josh
Old 09-18-02, 06:56 AM
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That's some good advice. Well, except for the "midnight building supply" idea- I don't know if I'm up to that (I'm almost 59 years old, a great-grandmother and don't have a car (LOL)

I know what sonotubes are. I've seen them used. In the 1970's we lived in rural NH and had a local job-training crew work on our kitchen (which was an adition on the house) all summer. They tore it down and rebult it. This took all summer because new crews of young people kept coming in (with teachers)and they ran into things like boulders that needed to be removed, and finding equiptment to do this, etc.

I'm the type who watches this (I'm interested) and joke "in case I ever need to do it).

I have one jack out in our shed (I think we had more but years ago someone borrowed them) They were my father's so must be pretty darn old (LOL) Sort of round- really heavy. I think there's a round steel pipe that slides in a hole to jack, if I couldn't find that something else would do.

You think I only need one? I was thinking I needed more, and would have to buy or rent them.

It's mainly one corner that's kicking out (the bottom) and pulling away from the house on that side. It's been doing this since we moved in 5 years ago, and doesn't seem to be much worse.

That's the big wrap around porch, there's a smaller porch by the kitchen door that's doing the same thing. My point, I could do the smaller one first to practice. It has a "tin" roof attached to the house, and someone told me (in passing) the porches wouldn't fall down because the roof is also holding them.

I have several cinderblocks around in the yard. I think there are some UNDER the porch, bracing it from the previous owner.

See, we bought this house 5 years ago, with the idea of doing these repairs (my husband was a painter, carpenter, handyman type). 8 months after we moved in he suffered a stroke. He's been in a Nursing Home, seriously ill and handicapped ever since. I get SS disability from him, which isn't enough to live on, but even if I could get a job without a car to get to it...(the GMC Jimmy we had was totalled in an accident- not the driver's fault (we had let someone borrow it) but not covered by our insurance, OR the other person's. One of those "**** happens" things)I woudln't be able to make much more than I get now, and THAT would be cut (off-topic, that's why I got the computer, and have been teaching myself all about it, webpages, etc. with the idea of learning a skill.. something I could do from home without a car, but so haven't millions of other people and NOW WHAT?)

This is another consideration. I "own" the house, but if I were to sell it (like to move to a smaller, less needy one) the State would want the money for Medicaid for the Nursing Home. I could probably get a home owner's loan for repairs, but don't want another monthly payment I can't pay. There seems like there must be something I could be doing, but don't know what, so I just muddle along day after day. I'm a low income person, with a computer, who owns a house (LOL) There is 3 acres of land, not enough to do much with, as to Government stuff.

Oh yeah, there's a big old barn that is falling down, too. It's already braced inside (was when we got here) and it's good for keeping the firewood dry.

Thanks for the tip about the finance topic, I hadn't noticed it.

I think for now (living in Northern VT winter comes early and hard) I'm going to go with the brace the porch (take the weight off the roof ) and aim at doing something nexgt Spring. someone on another board (who lives in the Ozarks) said to nail 2 sX4's together to use for this (I think I only have 2 in all) and cut it 2-3 inches more than the measurement between the roof and floor and HAMMER it under it. Actually it sounds like fun. I just wanted to make sure I wouldn't make it any worse. Or people woudln't drive by and see it and laugh ("that woman thinks that will hold the porch together" (LOL)

I have 3 sons (and 4 daughters) all but one daughter live in another state, and are involved in their own susvival (high rents, family, etc) But I can probably get at least 2 of them together on a weekend, if I work at it and have it all set. If I have the materials and plan set up.

One of them might even know what he's doing jacking it up. So, if I buy a couple of 6-packs and say we're having a barbeque... (LOL)

I've also started making a list. To define just WHAT the house needs, and how I might be able to get it done.

I know putting on some shingles that are missing on the front of the porch would help it look better. Now I have to find out where one buys shingles, can you get just a few (maybe one box?) and how much they are, and how I can GET them.

Then there's the bathroom floor....

Someone reminded me that a lot of people would LOVE to own a home. Falling down or not. Actually I think it's more the house owns the person.

Old 09-18-02, 12:02 PM
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If the 3 acres are "timbered" ( this would vary by local if you have some trees youd probably qualify) the govt ( at least in PA) will pay you NOT to sell the timber. Actually you can sell the timber first have it harvested THEN sell it to the govt. Get paid twice right! Typically around here they pay about 1,500 an acre.

As far as heating costs go most states have programs that help low income people pay their heating bills. I know PA does but not sure about others. Maybe contact your local state representative or someone who could direct you to it. Try a websearch.

Its hard to say exaclty what I would do to fix the porch as a picture is worth a thousand words and all. Id say if nothing else take the weight of the roof off the porch by using long 2x6s that go out at an angle past the porch floor into the ground. This is typically how you hold the roof while you rebuild a porch. (some people never seem to get it rebuilt after that stage)

Oh one last thing. My store sells handmade soaps by this concern that aims to help women succeed in gaining employment.
100% of their profits goes to help women in business and stuff. (THeir profits not mine lol ) Anyway if you did want to get a job and needed a car maybe they could help? The name is "the enterprising kitchen" I dont have any contact info on me.

To be honest it doesnt seem like youre too attatched to this house. Sorta good plan went bad. It might be worth selling it and moving to a maintence free one .. maybe in a tropical climate eh. I dont know how taxes work as far as that goes.

Hope this helps-Josh
Old 09-18-02, 12:50 PM
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Thanks for all the help....

I know it's hard to give advice from a distance, not seeing it or being there, etc.

The land has some trees on it (around the edges) and some apple trees. I think most of it's taken up with the house and barn which are ON the 3 acres. My neighbor's cows graze on some of it (I asked them to run their electric fence around it because we didn't have anything to cut it with. It was all rocks and brush, etc)

I do get fuel assistance which pays some of the costs. I try and get firewood in, for the Ashley woodstove, in the livingroom (the LP gas furnace in the basement is expensive and not too efficient in our cold winters)

It's not that I'm not attached to the house, but got kind of depressed and overwhelmed by it. Right now, I've been writing with others about it (and what to do about the porch) and came to the conclusion I will brace it for the winter and in the Spring, plan on taking it down (to the floor level) thus taking the weight off, and jacking it up and putting sonotube- cement (or cinderblocks) foundation under it. The railings, posts and roof are old wood that's dry and cracking.

I think it I think positive and go in that direction, it will work out. Even if people drive by and see me doing it and offer to help (LOL) Actually, I like doing things like that, carpentry, etc. I've followed a lot of workmen around (and family members working on something) watching them. I once helped my son rebuild a car engine in the basement.

I can see now where I've been coming from a feeling of lack and "I can't do anything"- maybe because I'm a woman, have little money and no car (LOL)

But, I can change all that.

Thinking about rebuilding the porch seems a lot easier than jacking it up and trying to fix it the way it is now. We have a bi-weekly ad paper that has building materials, discarded combination windows (my dream for the porch, sort of like a sun porch? It faces south, and even when it's zero out, it's 90 in the porch, with the sun hitting it.We enclose it in plastic over the winter).

There are reasons why I can't sell the house. For one thing I wouldn't get enough for it (here in a rural area and it needing work) to buy anything anywhere else (LOL) Also, my husband being in a Nursing Home, and having Medicaid, if I sold the house it would be called "assets" and the State would want the money.

Then I'd be broke AND homeless.

It's not that I'm not attached to the house, I guess I've been feeling kind of alone and "responsible" for taking care of it, without a man's help and/or a lot of money. If you don't have a man to work on the house, you need money to hire one (LOL)

But, I'm starting to feel better about it.

Maybe I'll write on the finance board and see if there are grants or help like that available (to look for) to repair one's house? I am almost a senior citizen (some places I already am, since I'm over 55) and someone told me I'm a "discplaced homemaker".

Old 09-18-02, 08:47 PM
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If you dont have access to a car/truck, most lumberyards will deliver your order for a small fee I think its around 50 bucks. Sometimes for free if your order is big enough ( like Ks ). So you can def get your materials delivered.

Yes there are state grants for fixing older citizens houses. Where my business is located used to be an old old 2 story house the government was refurbishing for the old gentleman who lived there. ( as he didnt even have indoor plumbing at the time!!!)
Well he passed on the govt quit halfway. I burnt the sucker down and built a new building and got a steal of a price at a tax auction.

Lots of females are into wood/building. The one caveat I can see, is that any project I do, I always end up spending a fortune in tools. Those costs can really add up. If you have alot of tools though go for it. Get your neighbor to help maybe?

I get alot of people driving by asking "what are you up to" but none of them offer to help. sad but true.

Hope this helps-Josh
Old 09-18-02, 09:04 PM
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Well, maybe if you were a female, people driving by would stop and help?

Yeah, I have tools. The cordless screwgun died, but I have another someone is giving me at some point. I figure you can go a long way keeping your house together with a screwgun and duct tape (LOL)

If I don't have money to buy materials, I sure don't have $50 to have stuff delivered. I do think places around here do deliver, don't know if there's a minimum you have to buy or not.

At the moment, my plan is to brace the porch (between roof and floor) with double 2X4's (nailed together) (I have a few long ones in the barn) and in the Spring redo the whole thing. Fix the foundation and take out the old "posts" (which are setting between the railing and the roof, instead of from the FLOOR to the roof. I've been learning about it (from people online) and I can see this. I don't know when it was built (maybe 80 or so years ago) but it should have the posts from the floor and not sitting on TOP of the side railings like it does.

I figure if I focus on it, and plan it (how I want it) and keep an eye in the local ad paper for building materials (maybe even run an ad for $2 ASKING if anyone has any left over stuff I could use they don't want?) I might get it all together by Spring.

Postive thinking, getting momentium going and all.

I've decided that anything the house needs to have done, I will do it. I have books, the internet, tools, and have decided it can be done. I don't know if I can, personally, do it myself, but if I get going on it, maybe people will come along to help. Maybe I'll do it myself, a little at a time.

The first step is the first step. I'm going to make a list.

And, I can be doing some things, like cleaning stuff off the porch.

I'm sure I'll be asking a lot of questions here, too.

Maybe I'll end up with my own construction company (LOL)

Grandma Carrie

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