Moldy, Rotten Sub Floor & Joists


Old 02-16-05, 01:37 PM
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Moldy, Rotten Sub Floor & Joists

My house had an addition built onto it about 5 years ago, which consists of my dining room & kitchen on the first floor, master bed & bath on the second floor. When I bought this house in July '04 I was told that everything was on a slab, and while I had what I thought was a thorough home inspection, this proved not to be the case. The dining room is hardwood flooring, while the kitchen is ceramic tile. After having a New Years party and people walking back and forth between the two rooms, I noticed that the ceramic tiles near the transition from dining room to kitchen were sagging significantly. As the night progressed, the tiles began popping up from the subfloor. The following day I easily removed by hand the tiles along the side of my house and by my back door in the kitchen area, only to discovered significant rot & water damage to the sub flooring.

After cutting out some of the sub flooring to get a better view, I realized that there was no slab and that the floor joists are actually sitting above dirt (no vapor barrier). They are sitting on top of masonry bricks which comprise the frame of the addition. Pools of water had gather under the house (we had just had heavy rains), and the damaged joists, about 4 so far are soft to the touch and covered in mold. In addition, it seems that the wood (stud) consisting of the bottom part of the wall frames (sorry I don't know the right terminology) is rotted out completely as well. The damage seems to be isolated to a 6x8 ft area. I have to rip out my kitchen and most of the dining room hardwood (which is sagging near the damaged area) in order to get a complete picture of what all is damaged.

Since insurance won't cover the damage due to rot and erosion over time, I've had a few contractors out to look at the damage and all seem to agree that besides terrible construction, the damage seems to be caused by the landscaping that the prior owner had done, which is pitched towards the house, so all rain water is going into the house. I looked into going after the prior owner, as she had no permit to do the work, but its a rather time intensive and expensive endeavor.

At this point, I just want to fix the problem for the least amount possible and dump the house. I know I need to resolve the rain water issue first, and I plan to do this on my own. I've had contractors estimate the damage at 20K and up, most of which want to pour a slab. But without having torn everything out, there is no way for me to get an accurate estimate.

I just wanted to get some thoughts on what I should do. One contractor suggested I replace the subfloor, put new ceramic down and dump the house, citing an "as-is" clause when selling the house. To me this is shady, and the last thing I want is it to come back on me later down the road.

I know I definitely need to replace the floor joists (i'll use PT) rather than sistering them, especially with the mold issue. I also need to install a vapor barrier. Its just the damage to the frame of the house that concerns me, and how much work would be involved in replacing this. And while I'm confident I can do most if not all of the work myself, I don't want to bite off more than I can chew.

Thanks in advance for your advice/comments.
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Old 02-17-05, 03:24 AM
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You definitely need to deal with the landscaping to get the water flowing way from the house or else put in a french drain system around the outside of the perimeter walls to keep the water from pooling under the house in the future. This should be the first item on the agenda, prevent things from getting worse before you start fixing the damage.

In addition, it seems that the wood (stud) consisting of the bottom part of the wall frames
That's called a sill plate, it along with any rotted studs and the damaged floor joists should be replaced as well. I'd use treated lumber for anything that will be within 6"-8" of the ground. I agree that it's best to do the job right the first time instead of just putting a band-aid on it and passing it along to the next unsuspecting soul. The $20K estimate to take care of this is within reason IMO for the type of work you need done if you hire the whole thing out to a contractor.

If you're fairly handy with tools, have a decent amount of common sense, and do your homework before you tear into this project head long, I think you can do a satisfactory job of this on your own, although you will most likely need an extra pair of hands a few times during the course of the project. The next question you need to ask yurself is how long you're willing to live with the house being ripped up while working on the repairs, if you & your family can live with the dust, mess, and inconvenience, then go for it.

You might find this site useful for determining what permits would be required by your local authorities.,0,0
Hope that helps a bit, post back if you have more questions and let us know how things go.

Old 02-17-05, 10:33 AM
Join Date: Nov 2002
Location: Orange County, CA
Posts: 331
My humble 2 cents

Although I am not able to see your house and the damage, I agree with AwesomeDell that you could do most of it yourself. I find that the limited amount of construction background I have had 20 years ago, lots of homework, and this forum has saved me thousands in labor costs. Keep in mind that most of the money a contractor will charge is for labor.

I figure that even if I have to do something twice because I did it wrong the first time, is still cheaper than paying a contractor. My view is that while I may earn a lot more money at my job per hour than I may be saving by doing the labor myself when a contractor could the job two or three or ten times faster, I get a lot of rewards. It is a lifestyle choice perhaps, but then for me, the rewards outweigh the costs.

I suggest doing lots of homework like reading books, reading internet articles, and talk with tradespeople. But highest on the list is getting the local building inspector involved as early as possible.
Old 02-17-05, 12:14 PM
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Thanks & One More Question

Thanks for your input & advice. I like to think I am pretty handy, and do enjoy seeing the fruits of my labor. Thanks to sites such as this one and folks such as yourselves, I'm confident I can gain a good amount of knowledge to be able to tackle this project.

One other question though. In order to replace the sill plate, is it necessary to jack up the studs that are sitting on it in order to remove them? I guess my fear is that if I start to cut the sill plate out to replace it, since the wall(s) is weight bearing (bedroom above) there could be big problems if I don't support it. Or should I be okay since the damage is only confined to a rather small area (corner) of the house?

Thanks again!
Old 03-30-05, 08:53 AM
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Can anyone shed some light on my post 2nd posting about the sill plates? Thanks!
Old 03-30-05, 01:08 PM
Join Date: Nov 2002
Location: Orange County, CA
Posts: 331
Just my 2 cents

Like I wrote earlier, I am just another home owner that has done some research and likes to work on his house. One thing I did find, is about pressure treated lumber. Awesomedell writes that he would use p/t lumber near the ground, which I agree.

However, I just pulled out p/t lumber I was using as a shower frame. I did this because p/t lumber cannot be used for framing. It turns out that most p/t lumber is very wet from the pressure treating and as it dries it shrinks, cracks, and other things that make it a poor choice for framing. There is a kiln dried and air dried p/t lumber, but I hear that it is hard to find.

You many try searching for sill replacement or repair on the web. I have seen at least one example that had good pictures of the work as it progressed.

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