Bad news received... - Posted by Christopher - WA

Posted by Ron (MD) on July 20, 2003 at 15:59:37:


I’m no expert on the structural problems you’ve described, but I have had to deal with situations that sound similar.

I think your biggest problem may be the contractor(s) that you showed the house to. Come contractors are accustomed to doing relatively routine carpentry, etc. Others…especially those who’ve been around awhile and are used to working on older homes, would bring over a couple jacks, some new joists and posts and have this thing fairly level in a day.

I have a couple competent contractors who would have no clue how to deal with this. Fortunately, I have another who would probably fix it for $500.

It may take some effort, but hunt for the right contractor for this job. It may not be nearly as bad as you (or the first contractor) think.

Ron Guy

Bad news received… - Posted by Christopher - WA

Posted by Christopher - WA on July 19, 2003 at 14:39:04:

While looking into having the floors leveled in my rental house (currently vacant), I’ve been told that I’m looking at 30-40k worth of work. The entire floor system needs to be replaced as it was never adequate to support the structure and has been settling for 60 years. Every contractor I’ve ever talked to about this house has insisted that it wasn’t worth putting money into. Now I guess it’s time to unload it and move on. I only see two options: Sell it to a developer who’ll do a tear-down or partner with someone to develop and sell it.

My question is, how do I market to developers that would be interested in the lot? It’s in a prime inner-city location. Would it be worthwhile to get it in the MLS? I plan to FSBO it.

I just refinanced it so there is only 20% equity available.

Thanks for any advice.

Re: Bad news received… - Posted by Scott

Posted by Scott on July 21, 2003 at 20:11:26:

Sounds to me like the contractor is describing foundation problems, and the framing is not up to par and will need to be replaced. My suggestion would be to hire a structural engineer. An engineer will sum up the repairs needed and you can then get prices from contractors based on the report. That way…apples to apples. I am a pro. contractor and I always work things this way, the report defines the scope of work, and limits my liability to that work. It also protects the homeowner from contractors trying to “upsell” the job.

Re: Bad news received… - Posted by James Mc (IL)

Posted by James Mc (IL) on July 21, 2003 at 03:12:16:

40k is way out of line, unless the house is huge.

Get other contractors. Their are ways to rig and sure that up. Biggest expense is what to do with the pillars and such underneath. That’s the hardest and expensive part.

Make sure that the floor support is solid!!!

On top of the floors is another issue. There are several liquid floor leveling products out there. What I have done is level it - close enough - forget the level for the most part and eyeball it.

Get the guy that concret contractors use to level, especially the basement. This takes SKILL and if you gotta pay 20 - 30 an hour for the one guy - pay it. Just have every thing ready for him/her in advance.

Then use particle board. Prefer myself to use 1/4 or 3/8 and do it in two layers OVERLAP the edges and SCREW in place. I have used single 3/4 and wasn’t happy with long term results.

Finish with carpet.

This is the cheapest way to do it that I know.

Second idea… level the place. If you rent the place you could be liable.

james mc

Re: Bad news received… more details - Posted by Christopher - WA

Posted by Christopher - WA on July 20, 2003 at 14:54:55:

Thanks for the information and encouraging words everyone. The problem, according to the contractor, is that the main floor beams are only 4X4s and they’re on piers too far apart. He says that they can’t just be forced back into place because they won’t “unbend”. He also said that you couldn’t lift just the low spots because of this as the whole area would be lifted. There are two foundation areas of concern. One location where the mortar has washed out from an earlier leak and one crack indicating settling of a corner. (It’s a pretty major settling too. 2.5 inches in six feet.) This is all very upsetting as I was looking into making the house a better rental. Now it looks like it’ll cost more to fix this problem than I had planned to put into the house total! I’m not capable of doing this kind of work myself due to a bad back.

I will definitely get other opinions but the guy made a lot of sense and didn’t want the job.

I’d still like to know how to feel out the market for developers to sell to if someone has any suggestions.

I know to check at the investor’s clubs to find a potential development partner.

Thanks for any further input!

Re: Bad news received… - Posted by Kristine-CA

Posted by Kristine-CA on July 20, 2003 at 14:13:20:

I’m curious about your wording: floor systems. Do you mean foundation issues? What exactly is the problem? As someone who has seen more houses without foundations (no concrete) than I ever thought possible, I can tell you that there are many solutions to leveling a floor and none of them cost 40K. However, adding cement perimeters and piers does cost quite a bit.

Just depends on what you want to do. Would it still be a good rental for you if the floors were leveled? Also, you may want to get some other quotes for just dealing with the floor issue.

Please let us know how it works out. I’m curious what the problem with the house actually is.

Sincerely, Kristine

Re: Bad news received… - Posted by Ronald * Starr(in No CA)

Posted by Ronald * Starr(in No CA) on July 19, 2003 at 23:55:34:


Well, I’d not take the contractor’s word for it.

I’ve done some jacking up and leveling of floors. It was actually not too much work.

The main issue, as I see it, what is the problem? Sinking into the dirt? Then just get some broad flagstones or stepping stones–16-18"–and dig down a littl bit and put them down. Jack up the structure near these stonea and place concrete piers on them. Them put 4X4" or 6x6" vertical posts in. Lower floor supports down on them.

If the structural parts are compressed or rot or insect damaged, the wood above will sink down into them. Solution: replace the damaged parts with new.

This is really not a hard task on the jobs I’ve done. Maybe there are some jobs that are impossible, but I doubt it. I’d suggest you get under the house and look yourself at the whole problem. You might find that you and a handiperson could repair the whole thing for a couple of thousand dollars.

Now, do be careful. A lot of weight is above you. Don’t take out supports until you have braces holding the weight of the structure from moving down. And, when you are jacking, do is slowly, watching for cracks in the plaster and other issues.

Wheneven I raise a part of a house I go up about 1/2 to 3/4 higher than surrounding areas, to allow for sinking of my supports into the dirt.

Sometimes it is easier to take out part of the floor boards to quickly get access to a section of the house rather than crawl in from some little opening at the other end of the building. The boards taken out are usually easily replaced or new plywood put in.

Now, I am not a contractor. I advise you to be careful. Don’t do this is if you don’t have good common sense.

But, gravity and wood seems to me to be something that is easy to understand.

Good Investing**Ron Starr

Flaot a floor? - Posted by BrokerScott (Mich)

Posted by BrokerScott (Mich) on July 19, 2003 at 21:02:43:

had a junker about 6 years ago and the floor was up to 5 in. out of true. (Center supports were grape posts instead of proper jacks) Putting in jacks was able to drop it about 3 in. and then put 2 x 4 pieces on the low spots of the floor and then put 1/2 in. OSB over the whole thing. Roll was by then virtually unoticable and new carpet finished that part of the project. Still have that property too. So far so good. Best, Scott

But if you DO want to find that developer - Posted by IB (NJ)

Posted by IB (NJ) on July 20, 2003 at 20:55:19:

you’re going to have to find out what type of lot your house is sitting on. Check with zoning to see what can be built on it. SFH? 1-2 family homes? Get a zoning confirmation letter to confirm the zoning. There’s other issues such as a possible underground oil tank (soil contamination?) and whether or not the house presently hooked up to city water. Do a seach in the archives for vacant land.

Once you know what type of lot you have and what can be done on it, you then have to find out what it would be worth to a developer. Your best bet is to check with a Realtor who works with builders. Cut a deal where once you find a buyer/builder, you’ll work it where he can list the newly constructed dwelling. Or you might just want to let the realtor list it. But make sure he/she has experience working with builders.

Re: Bad news received… more details - Posted by Kristine-CA

Posted by Kristine-CA on July 20, 2003 at 18:43:52:

Christopher: I just wanted to let you know that I think Ron is right about finding the right contractor. There are many contractors that simply do not want to be under the house. Just like there are plumbers who do not want to do any maintanence plumbing. These are always the ones that say that fixing it would cost more than starting over.

30-40K is a big number and doesn’t seem in keeping with what needs to be done to make the floor more level and better supported. I wouldn’t give up just yet.

Let us know how this turns out. Sincerely, Kristine