Sloping floors driving me crazy!


Old 09-22-14, 06:08 AM
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Sloping floors driving me crazy!

Sorry if I'm posting this in the wrong forum since I am new to the DIY forums. If it is in the wrong place please direct me, thanks.

15 year old house. I just bought it, it is my first house purchase.
Slab on grade foundation
House sits on top of a hill, back of the house sits very close to steep hill drop.

A few months ago we bought our first house. It sits on top of a hill, and the backyard dramatically slopes down starting within just a few feet of the end of the house. The house has an incredible wood deck all along the back, which allows us to look out over the wooded area. The wood deck is supported by concrete pillars driven into the ground.

I am usually one of the most observant people you will ever meet.....if I detect something is wrong, I will usually pick up on it before most people will. However, I think in this instance, and maybe because I was caught up in the whole house buying process, this one slipped past me. During the walk through of our house, I never noticed any sloping to the floors.....but I really wasn't thinking about looking for those kinds of things when you're first going through a house. I naturally was looking at the general feel and look of the house. The house was completely empty as well with no furniture, so I don't know if that helped play into the fact I didn't notice any sloping floors. I did notice however during the tour some oddly added concrete that looked like it had been added under the back of the house after the original construction. I did look odd and concerning, but for some reason I didn't red flag it. I will try to post of a picture of it.

We ended up buying the house, and I was concerned about the house being so close to the edge of a hill that upon the recommendation of my realtor to help put my mind at ease, we had a structural engineer come look at the house.
During the home inspection, the seal on the dishwasher was bad and water leaked onto the tile kitchen floor. The home inspector made quick mention to me that the floors had a slope to them as the water had rolled to the end of the kitchen. I didn't really think much of it. The structural engineer came and did his thing, and gave the house a green light as well. Could detect no alarming structural issues that needed attention. He didn't even say anything about the added concrete footer that looked odd to me. Both he and the home inspector pointed out some cracks in the brick mortar, and they both said it was natural for all homes to have some settling. They recommended I have the cracks tuck pointed. I never did have a soils engineer come out and look at the house, even though it was recommended to me by my uncle who builds houses for a living. We just didn't have the additional time and money to do so.

So fast forward and I got moved into the house, and it was at this point I noticed just how much the floors sloped. You can definitely feel under the carpet in the living room where the floor starts to pitch. You can easily see where the row of tile in the kitchen starts to pitch down, before it levels back out in the cove where our dining table sits. I also noticed a lot of doors would very slowly swing shut or open on their own. However, all the doors leading to the outside wood deck (3 in total) work fine, and in fact the kitchen floor is perfectly level with the wood deck. I also noticed after moving in a few cracks above our bedroom door in the sheetrock. They were vertical cracks in the center of the door, but these are the only ones I've seen.

So fast forward even more, and I've been completely driving my wife crazy about the sloping floors. She doesn't feel it like I do. She does acknowledge the floors slope, especially in our son's bedroom, but it isn't driving her mad like it is me. So I ended up having a foundation repair company come out to inspect. I thought maybe it would help put my mind at ease. So they came out and took measurements with a barometer like device to detect floor pitch. They did detect that in our bedrooms, the rooms were off by over an inch from the front of the room to the back. Also that our living room and kitchen were pitched too. But from their viewpoint, the house had no structural issues.....the floors weren't sloping due to the house sinking or foundation breaking. He told me he suspects it was just a bad foundation pour, and that maybe because it sits on a hill and naturally flowed from front to back that maybe the concrete just settled that way after it was poured. This doesn't sit well with me though, as I can't believe the house builders wouldn't check that kind of stuff out before framing began.
I asked him about leveling the floors, and he said it could be done, but he warned me that I could get into a real money pit. He stated that the doors would have to be reframed so they could be raised higher. The tiles in the kitchen would have to be ripped out, and since I didn't have extras of the original tiles they would all have to be replaced. He looked at me and said, "if I were you, if it bothered me that much, I would just sell the house."

So forward about a month later, and the floors still really bother me. It bothers me because of one thing.....I really worry about resell on this house. Our house sat on the market for 8 months before we came along and bought it. Many other houses were selling within weeks it seemed. So I was always curious why this house was sitting so long. You also have to understand our back yard though. I mentioned the end of our house only has a few feet of flat yard before it drops off into a steep hill. The hill goes about 20 feet before it levels back out into flat yard again. Our realtor stated that the biggest reason this house didn't sell was because of the hill and that it had no retaining wall. And now that I've had to mow grass on this hill this summer, it is a complete pain, and it's in fact dangerous. We are having a retaining wall put in at some point, but it's going to cost 12,000$. Even the landscaper that came to assess the project shook his head and couldn't believe they put the edge of the house so close to the hill like that.

I ended up buying a 4 ft level because I'm obsessed with this, and if I place the level at the end of my living room, I have to lift the other end up 1 inch to get the bubble level. So 1 inch in just 4 ft.......I slid the level down to where the end of it was, and I had to raise it 1/2 inch to get level. So there's 4.5 inches of pitch in 8 ft. This seems like a lot, as I've been reading the standard seems to be 1 inch in 20 ft.

So I guess I'm ultimately asking from all of this worth trying to fix? It does really bother met. I do worry about resell someday....that other people are going to be more observant and tune into the floor slopes than I did during a walk through. I don't intend to sell the house anytime soon, but I hate knowing that if I wanted to someday, that something like this might hold us back. I appreciate any thoughts on the matter.

(it appears I can't upload the images I wanted to, sorry)
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Old 09-22-14, 08:05 AM
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Welcome to the forums!

A 4.5" drop over 8' is pretty significant. I have a hard time seeing anyone not notice that. I would think that the slab has sunk over the years. Uneven slabs do get poured but I can't imagine that much slope getting ignored. I wonder if mud jacking would be appropriate.
Old 09-22-14, 08:08 AM
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Sorry, your post is so long I only skimmed it so I apologize if I'm asking something you already said - is the slope only on floors above ground or is in in the bottom slab as well?

I'm trying to figure out whether this is a case of someone having removed a post or something like that versus sinking into the ground.
Old 09-22-14, 08:24 AM
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So there's 4.5 inches of pitch in 8 ft
Hopefully your math is wrong here. I don't think any engineer would say this isn't a problem, and no wife or anyone living in house would live with this.
This is like sliding downhill. The worse house I've seen to date was about 1.5" over 10 or 11 feet.
That was really bad.
I'm not that familiar with it, and someone mentioned it above, but do some research on mud jacking.
Mud jacking can actually lift your house where required.
Old 09-22-14, 10:49 AM
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Sorry I meant to say 1.5 inches in 8 ft
Old 09-22-14, 12:37 PM
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That's still a big drop. I've worked on houses built on slabs that were off an 1" or so from one side to the other [30'-40'] but I'd be surprised if the slab was always that far off.
Old 09-22-14, 04:59 PM
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So what's the most cost effective way to deal with it? I almost got the impression from the one foundation company I had come out they they would just level it from the top. I mean, how do you do mud jacking or piers without making the drywall crack from when it raises up? Do they have a way of raising just the concrete floor itself without raising the framing? Since it's my living room, kitchen, and two back bedrooms, is that too big of a job for self leveling concrete? I know the trimwork would have to be taken off and redone. I'm just trying to avoid having to cut new framing for the doors and having to raise them up.

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