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Help with wavy floors!?


BUJ514's Avatar
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Join Date: Sep 2012
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OH

09-22-12, 07:12 PM   #1  
Help with wavy floors!?

I live in a 100 year old house with very wavy floors on the first (ground) floor. There is a bit of slope in the kitchen, living room, and hallway connecting the two. In the worst areas, there might be a gradual change of roughly 2" across 10 feet, from the one side of my living room to the front exterior wall. The high point is directly over a brick column in the basement and the low point is on the front exterior wall. The beam is approx. a 6x8 wooden beam with visible bend in it in the basement and joists run perpendicular to the direction of the slope.

I have owned the house for about 5 years and I don't believe much, if any, additional drop of the front exterior wall has happened, though I think the front porch (near that wall) has had some sinking in that time (or I'm just noticing it more now).

The house has plank subfloors and very thin (~3/8" thick solid oak flooring on top, almost as a veneer). I would like to replace the flooring with new hardwood or laminate, but I really want to address this slope first, if only to make it less pronounced.

I had a structural engineer check out the situation about a year ago and he said everything looks structurally ok in the basement and with the beam. He recommended putting a few lally posts in certain spots in the basement, but said it isn't anything to worry about. He did say that trying to jack up the beam and joists too much could cause the beam to crack, so that could be tricky.

Can you possibly make some suggestions on how I can reduce this slope? So far, I have been mulling over a few options:

1. Getting a contractor to place jack posts and slowly raise the front wall to at least reduce the drop (though not sure what that would cost or involve - any idea?), or

2. Trying to remove the subfloor section by section, shimming the joists, and putting down new plywood subfloors, if only in the worst sections.

I am a pretty capable DIYer and I think I would be fully capable of doing a decent job with the #2 suggestion, but I'm not sure it is the best solution. Again, I would greatly appreciate any help you can provide.


Last edited by Nashkat1; 09-24-12 at 10:59 AM. Reason: remove font formatting
 
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09-23-12, 03:35 PM   #2  
You brought back memories to my grandparents' 3rd floor brownstone apartment in Park Slope, Brooklyn. The slope in the master bedroom was at least 2". It's probably still like that. You said that the porch may have sunk in the last 5 years but not the house. Is it possible that the front porch caused the slope by puling the house down? There is no sense in correcting the slope if that's what happened because it will continue. Was the porch built at the same time as the house? Is the porch enclosed with a roof? How high is the water table?

Adding lolly columns & shimming the subfloor might be the better way to go.

 
Nashkat1's Avatar
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09-24-12, 11:55 AM   #3  
Welcome to the forums!

For me, your story brought back memories of the 1908 Queen Anne my ex and I renovated when our kids were still preschoolers.

In considering the options you suggest:
1. Getting a contractor to place jack posts and slowly raise the front wall to at least reduce the drop (though not sure what that would cost or involve - any idea?), or

2. Trying to remove the subfloor section by section, shimming the joists, and putting down new plywood subfloors, if only in the worst sections.
I would lift, level and support the front wall. I would live with the slope before shimming the framing. As you say,
I would be fully capable of doing a decent job with the #2 suggestion, but I'm not sure it is the best solution.
You're right, it isn't the best solution. You would be "building in" the damage without doing anything to correct it. Besides, a 2" lift on an exterior wall does not sound like a major undertaking (our primary lift was 3" in the center of the house, 36' below the roof).

That said, it isn't a minor, DIY-friendly project either. It will require removing one or two small sections at the top of the foundation, stacking cribbing on each side of each opening, inserting beams that can take the load - very heavy timbers or steel I-beams - and jacking, slowly, over several weeks, with a house jack on one end of the beam and the other end supported on the cribbing. Before starting the lift, you will need to remove any patching material from the inside of the wall. You may need to strip the wall to the framing, but don't go to that first, unless you think that the wall was recovered after the sag, rather than patched. You do not jack under the joists - that will only lift the joists and make matters worse.

I would talk with two contractors. You're primarily looking for assessment here, rather than price. First, have the most reputable foundation specialist you can find tell you what damage he sees, and the remedies he sees as doable and prudent. Then, depending on the outcome of that consultation, contact the most reputable, established, licensed and bonded house moving company you can find. Those are the folks who are already equipped to do this work. Every house move starts with a whole-house lift. Here, you can talk a bit of price, by weighing alternative outcomes and procedures and what-ifs, but don't expect anything cheap. We spent $15,000, three decades ago. OTOH, the work we needed to do was far more involved that what you're looking at.

If you're feeling both really handy and brave, and can lay hands on all the materials you need, you could try this yourself. House jacks can often be rented, but the beams and cribbing material may be a challenge. Pay up the life insurance premium first!

 
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