Rotted sill and floor. can it be fixed ?

Discussion in 'Homesteading Questions' started by ChuckinVA, Aug 16, 2004.

  1. ChuckinVA

    ChuckinVA Well-Known Member

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    I just got back from my dad's place in West Virginia last night. Dad has owned this 24 acres since 1952. My grandparents built a house on the property in 1952 and it appears it was built on a foundation that was made of locust posts or other long term wood but the years have not been kind to the place and the foundation has rotted. There has been a caretaker living in the house in exchange for keeping up the place for the last 11 years. That is a story in its self but he is no longer there and we are in the process of trying to clean up the place of all of the trash including automobile chasis and truck loads of trash. It appears that the living room floor has dropped about 5-6 inches on an exterior corner, and there is another room on the back of the house that has done the same thing.

    I dug the ground away from the corner and it appears the sill is rotted out and the floor is no longer attached and that is why it has fallen.

    My dad is 75 years young and does not have the expertise or the financial resources to repair it. I live about 5 1/2 hours away and could probably over time repair it with a plan as to what I need to do first. I think I could remove the living room floor to expose the joists and repair it from the inside but I'm not sure of the steps that need to be taken. And i'm not sure how to support the house while I replace the sill. All materials would need to be planned for as there is not a building supply any where close by that I know of.

    Has any one undertaken a project like this that could offer some advice as to the difficulty ? I really hate to see this place be left to rot as some day I would like to spend my spring and summers there.
    Sorry for the long post
     
  2. agmantoo

    agmantoo agmantoo Supporter

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    If there is space from underneath the home that is where you want to start. You can scab a flooring joist adjacent to each of the faulty ones and using the new joists you can slowly jack the house back into its original position. Patience and hard work are to two key ingredients in this task.
     

  3. uncle Will in In.

    uncle Will in In. Well-Known Member Supporter

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    Is there any stone or concrete under the outside walls of the house, or is it just built on the wooden sills which must be down on the ground? If it is on the ground, the chances of it being eaten up by termites is very great in our part of the country. I would dig under the outside wall where the floor is sagging, and find out what you are really dealing with. If it is repairable a few hydraulic jacks will hold it up where it should be until it is fixed. Another possibility is tearing out the floors and pouring concrete floors under the walls and all.
     
  4. ChuckinVA

    ChuckinVA Well-Known Member

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    I dug along side of the house and it looks like the sill is directly in contact with the earth. There was at one time a block of wood on the corner that it rested on but it is rotted away. There is only about 4 to 6 inches of clearance around most of the house and that is why I thought it might be easier to access it from the inside.This area is right on the ground and what is left of the sill is wet and rotted. Fortunately there is no sign of termites. Just decay.

    I would have to support the house in some way in order to replace the sill. Do you think i would be better off to go ahead and remove the floor in the living room and support the ceiling by building temporary supports, then remove the rotted sills and replace the joists which are probably rotted on the end that is sunken ?
     
  5. SRSLADE

    SRSLADE Well-Known Member

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    In the area that has the rotted joist dig dirt away untill you can see the floor joist. Dig so that you can reach in about 6 feet. 8 feet if you can. I said reach not crawl in. Put 2 jacks and a beam across joist. Jack up floor. Put as long a joist as you can beside old joist. Drill some 3/8 holes up and down not all in a row put in bolts bolt together. Put new sill and spike to end of joist. support sill with cement blocks and remove jacks. New floor.
     
  6. Yes do install a temporoary wall directly above the new beam. Just like a regular wall on 16 centers with top and bottom plates. If its a big load, "T" the 2x4's. The ceiling wont come crashing down if you dont, but you will have problems.

    mc
     
  7. HermitJohn

    HermitJohn Well-Known Member

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    I've done these kind of jobs for people and dont want anymore. Its a PITA but doable if you are patient. People dont get it about good foundation. Even had some customers ask if I cant just prop it up and level it with few rocks. Had to get them down on ground and show them that there just werent any sills left to prop up. I've seen many old houses with lot wood better than you can buy today go to rot because original builders didnt bother to build a good foundation. Such a shame. Just about any house is worth fixing if there is a good foundation in place. The opposite is not true. If you do this, use treated lumber for sills, especially if you are just doing part of house and sills are still going to be real close to the ground after you finish. Also put in real foundation with proper footings. I just hate seeing people waste bunch money on materials and spend lot of time, then do something halfassed.

    If building codes arent oppressive where you are at, laborwise its manytimes easier and quicker just to start from scratch. Depends on how much time you have and how valuable it is to you and restrictions on new construction, etc.
     
  8. I'd remove the floor and expose the beams... especially if the rotted sill/foundation is only in that certain area. If the sill is rotted, the ends of the floor joists may be rotted as well. The more you can see, and the easier it is to get to the repair, the easier the entire job will be. Use treated lumber, get yourself a few hydraulic jacks, perhaps a length of support beam (wood, steel) to level the joists in the area that you're working on, etc.

    The big problem is the foundation... obviously it has to be able to actually support the floor. If the foundation is also "gone", you may be forced to go to concrete piers or even a partial perimeter concrete foundation.

    cheers,
     
  9. Whats the size of the house you are talking about 800-1000 sq ft smaller? rock or brick fireplace?
     
  10. ChuckinVA

    ChuckinVA Well-Known Member

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    It is probably about 800 to 1000 Sqft. There are no fireplaces, only flue pipes through the roof
     
  11. Here is a link to a site that shows how to do something very similar to what you are about:

    http://hammerzone.com/archives/framecarp/repair/sill/garage/rotted.htm

    He is replacing rotted sill plates in an old garage. This entails temporarily jacking up the structure. The photos are good. He's got other articles on his site that go more into depth on jacking up buildings for various types of repairs. There's a lot to know about what kind of jacks to use and what kind of steel plates you'll want for different situations. Note that this is serious, varsity-level stuff. Much more difficult than building new (but probably cheaper). On the other hand, it doesn't sound like you've got much to lose by trying.

    I would also say that you need to replace the entire pier foundation or this is going to happen with all of the other posts soon. This might not be so awful given the relatively small size of the house. Here's a link on easily built post foundations:

    http://countryplans.com/foundation/index.html

    If you poke around on that site some, you can see pictures of this kind of foundation actually being built. It's designed to be something that 1 or 2 people with minimal skills can do without having to call in a contractor. You may be able to adapt this to your situation. Good luck!

    -Jack_Cville
     
  12. Oh - one more tip for you. Because you are over 5 hours away from home with no building supply store nearby, bring more lumber than you think you'll need. A bunch of 2x4s for bracing. Extra pressure-treated lumber of various dimensions. Various brackets. Galvanized nails of various lengths. Plywood. A bag of ready-mix concrete. A few patio pavers. A can of rotted wood stabilizer. Primer. A plumb bob. Big tarp. A heat gun if you have one.

    Once you start the actual demolition in a project like this you will usually find something unexpected in the way of partially rotted framing members or something like that. I find it annoying enough when I rip apart a patio door frame or something and find out that I have to spend an hour running to Lowes and back just to get to the point where I can even begin the job that I had originally intended to do. Sounds like it would be far worse for you. So I've learned to keep everything on hand that I could possibly need to repair rotted wood or damaged footings. It's not a waste of money for a DIYer - unfortunately you will end up using all of it eventually.

    -Jack_Cville
     
  13. ed/IL

    ed/IL Well-Known Member

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    Type in Home depot or lowes store locater in google and you will be able to find closest store to your project. If they are to far try Internet yellow pages distance search for lumber yard or building material. http://www.superpages.com/
     
  14. ChuckinVA

    ChuckinVA Well-Known Member

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    Jack,
    Thanks for the links. Great images to work by. Helps put it in perspective.The Pier foundation info is good. I had thought about the pier blocks Lowes and Home Depot sell for deck building as a solution to the other foundation areas which are destined for the same. I was thinking about digging out a hole and pouring concrete into it to get a footer and then setting the block on top of it. I really don't think I want to put any wood back that would be in contact with the soil. The pier information helps !
     
  15. I can't imagine wood in direct contact with soil anywhere in the usa but i guess the treated wood might be legal some places i would personally recomend jacking up the whole house and getting a concrete foundation under it that is setting on footings below the frost line. beware it sounds like a good chance that this structure should be condemed and so consider any legal aspects like building oficials codes and permits. Anything can be repaired but at some point you have to decide if it is worth the expense or not. Most usa style construction is not meant to last and if you are not on a decent foundation it may be questionable. You may also want to check with a house mover if a reputable one exists or a basement under existing homes contractor to see what a proper repair would cost before taking it on. beware in my area those type contractors are notorious for being unethical and screwing customers. Have you inspected for termites and dry rot and how far into the structure are you rotten? little point in putting a new foundation under a pile of rotten wood.
     
  16. ChuckinVA

    ChuckinVA Well-Known Member

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    guest,
    I really only looked at it for a few hours so some things will require a second look. I have asked dad to check with a contractor that he knows of in the area and see if he would give us a price to raise the house and put a real foundation under it. I think it will probably be cheaper in the long run to start from scratch and build a one or two room small cottage but we will see. I'm sure there is more rot there than we are able to see because the house is so close to the ground. Thanks,