Sinking kitchen question


Old 04-06-13, 03:44 PM
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Join Date: Apr 2013
Location: USA
Posts: 1
Sinking kitchen question

Hi All,

My husband and I are looking at a house that was built in the 50s. It's been vacant for over a year because of the foreclosure process and is just now going on the market. It's definitely a fixer-upper, but the majority of the issues are cosmetic (paint, ugly light fixtures etc). Our huge concern is in the kitchen.

When you're facing the wall that has the sink, base and upper cabinets, and the stove on it, starting at about 3 feet from the wall, the floor starts sloping away from you (toward the wall). It's clear as day to the naked, untrained eye. It doesn't span the entire length of the wall and seems most noticeable under the sink.

There is a full, unfinished basement, so we went downstairs to see if we could find any obvious damage. The utilities were not on, so it was hard to get a good look at the joists. We didn't notice any damage right off the bat.

We're going to go back out this week to get pictures and do some more investigation, but given our lack of a background in this area I'm hoping you all can help me look in the right spots.

Here's what I know about the house:
*Block foundation with 8 foot ceilings in basement
*Joists look to be on a 16 inch center, but I will measure to be sure.
* the joists run from the back of the house to the front, so the wall that has the sink, cabinets and stove are parallel to the joists. the wall that the sag runs along does not appear to be load baring.

So what information do I need to provide you to help me get a better idea of what we're up against. Eventually we will get an inspector, but I would like to have as much information as possible before we go that far.

Thanks in advance for your help!
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Old 04-06-13, 03:53 PM
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Join Date: Mar 2005
Location: USA
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Welcome to the forums!

Take a good flashlight and a tape measure with you! Might not hurt to bring a level too. Besides getting a better look and maybe seeing something obvious, measure the size and span of the floor joists. If there have been plumbing problems with the kitchen sink that weren't addressed promptly it's possible water has damaged part of the structure.
Old 04-06-13, 04:22 PM
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Join Date: Oct 2011
Location: USA
Posts: 3,196
A typical home inspector will notice the sagging floor, and write in his/her report: "Have floor structure evaluated by a competent professional". Very few of them have the expertise or background to produce a concise structural investigation. If I were in your position, I'd consider hiring a qualified engineer before bringing in a home inspector.

In addition to the tools already suggested, for sure take an ice pick with you when taking a closer look at things in the basement. Rotten wood that is dry (with the utilities having been off for a while) may be difficult to spot with the naked eye, but a few pokes at suspicious areas with the ice pick can alert you to problems. Also, make sure someone didn't previously remove a load-bearing wall or beam in the basement that could have resulted in the floor sag.

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