Rehab question...Sloping floors - Posted by Scott (ATL)

Posted by Jen-LA on April 29, 2000 at 15:05:27:

Scott- if I were you I’d make it a top priority to find a good contractor/carpenter who can give you estimates on each house if you need it before you buy. You will get to where you can estimate pretty accurately based on what he charged you on similar work. good luck! -jen

Rehab question…Sloping floors - Posted by Scott (ATL)

Posted by Scott (ATL) on April 28, 2000 at 08:11:39:

In our quest for “rehab #2” I have found quite a few older houses with sloping floors. Some that are obvious to the eye and others you don’t notice until you walk “downhill/uphill”. At any rate, I’m looking for opinions on this issue.

From a resale perspective are there people that will buy a house that has been fixed up but has slightly or extreme floor slopes? Or are most of you finding that you need to fix the slope before reselling?

I have no idea what something like this would cost and my guess is that it would depend on what is causing the problem. Anyway, we are willing to rehab some pretty crappy houses but I’m not sure we’re ready to get into foundation issues. Well, I’m really not sure that a sloping floor would constitute a foundation issue.

Thoughts on this subject? And if you guys are fixing sloping floors during a rehab is a carpenter the type of person to look for or is there some other “specialist” that would do this kind of work.

Thanks and thank you to all of you that make this newsgroup an amazing resource!

Old Atlanta Renovators
770-234-5795 Voice and Fax

Re: Rehab question…Sloping floors - Posted by george

Posted by george on April 30, 2000 at 21:24:44:

Is it possible to commit to buying the house for a higher price subject to the current owner leveling the house?

Re: Rehab question…Sloping floors - Posted by Bill (OH)

Posted by Bill (OH) on April 29, 2000 at 15:29:14:

Scott, I know folks that will buy properties in al kinds of shape! (gggg). It’s not too uncommon to find houses where I live where the original parts of the house sink and any additions don’t follow along. There are a number of contractors that make a living fixing these problems—usually by jacking the house up to where it’s level again. How much that costs depends on how bad and how extensive the drop is.

Another problem I see from time to time, is warpage of wood. Floor joists are like wall studs in that they have a ‘comb’ side that, if the wood isn’t properly cured, can bow out with time. The solution there is to rip up the floor boards and either use a big jack plane or a circular saw to remove the bow.

Finally, if you think you might have a sunken house, do some additional measuring. Some of these old houses weren’t built straight to begin with. I live in a house where the width of the living room is 4 inches different from one end to the other—try drywalling something like that!

Re: Rehab question…Sloping floors - Posted by Troy M

Posted by Troy M on April 28, 2000 at 11:20:56:

Obviously you’ll need to do some thorough inspections to find the cause of the sloping floors. First of all, is the house on a slab, or on blocks (aka ‘pier and beam’)? The answer to that question makes a BIG difference. My guess would be the houses you refer to are on blocks. If so:

You need to check all of the sills (4"x6" beams under the house as well as the floor joists. If they are in good shape (no rotted wood, termite,powder post beetles, or other wood destroying insects) then you may get away with just levelling the house. If you need to replace wood, around my area it’s about $10 bucks a linear foot. Termite evidence may need treated IF there are live ones ($500-$700) w/ clear report. And… as I just found out this week, powder post beetles must be fumugated, the house has to be tented and a guard remains on the premises for the 3 or 4 days of fumugation. Don’t you love rehabs!

But, you are right, the answer lies in the cause of the sloping floor. Personally, I would not leave the floor sloping if I was doing a full rehab, depends on your exit plan, but I intend to sell rehabs at full market value with third party financing.

Also, if those houses are on slab, well, I just saw one that needs 10k+ in foundation repair, and when you’re done, you still have a house with a cracked slab. Some folks don’t mind that since it now has a warranty etc. but some do.

Good Luck,

Troy M

It depends… - Posted by David Krulac

Posted by David Krulac on April 28, 2000 at 10:37:37:

  1. if the slope is slight, carpet, the deeper the better can disquise the problem.
  2. if the house is cheap and will be resold cheap then major slopes usually can’t be economically repaired.
  3. if the cause of the slope is say an addition on a pier with inadequate footing, some jacks can raise the addition and a new footer and peir constructed. its a little difficult but can be done.
  4. is the cause of the settling/sloping an ongoing problem or a problem that has stopped. somebody i know bought a house with a 4 foot mine subsidence problem in the basement. the subsidence was supposedly over he filled in the hole and lived there a while before renting it and eventually selling it. obviously a subject of seller’s disclossure.
    David Krulac

Re: Rehab question…Sloping floors - Posted by Jen- LA

Posted by Jen- LA on April 28, 2000 at 09:07:40:

Scott- while I am by no means an expert at leveling houses, we have had to do it to on both houses we’ve rehabbed. The first was a minor slope that the buyer noticed and wanted fixed, so we did- our contractor (who happens to have the tools to do it) did it for around $350. On a house we looked at with the contractor yesterday, the entire house slopes all over the place- He told us it would be closer to $3,000 to repair all the rotten wood planks under the house and level the whole thing. We figured it would be this much, and added that into our estimate of costs and decided it’s worth it. So I’d check with your contractor or carpenter or whatever and see if they do it.

I think if the slope isn’t too bad, or the house is cheap enough, people might disregard it, and if they don’t, you can fix it before you close. In some cases though, as in the second house I talked about, it is way too noticeable and probably would prevent anyone from buying.

also- it’s a lot cheaper to fix if the house is raised off the ground- our guy pretty much won’t fool with slab houses.

Hope this helps you out…

Re: Rehab question…Sloping floors - Posted by ScottC(Atl)

Posted by ScottC(Atl) on April 29, 2000 at 10:37:50:

Thanks Troy…

We are doing full rehabs so your advice makes sense. I have never encountered the infestation problems you speak of and this is great information for me to keep in my back pocket.

A lot of the houses we’ve been looking at are older (1920’s) so they all seem to have some floor problems.

Opinions on bringing in an inspector early? I mean if I’m looking at a house and trying to determine the “true” rehab costs prior to making an offer I need to know if there is major termite damage, rotten wood and how much it will cost to repair this. Since we have only done one house, I think the fix up cost unknown/variable is keeping us from making our next offer and causing us to miss out on some deals. Typically and inspector isn?t brought in until the offer is made but until I?m relatively comfortable with the numbers (price, rehab costs and resale price estimates) I?m wondering if an inspection might get us over our fear of underestimating?

Our time is limited and we?re not totally confident in our ?estimation? skills. We are better now with one under our belt but there are still a lot of things we don?t know and I hate admitting that we are a little stymied by our fear. I recognize it but I have to come up with a better way to feel comfortable with our estimates and make sure that the ?deal? is really there.

I?m breaking from the thread a bit but obviously sloping floors is something we haven?t dealt with and I certainly don?t want to put up and offer when I think that it will only cost $3000 for floor leveling and in reality it might be $10000! If the resale estimate can?t support this than I don?t want this deal. This is overcourse the risk we take when doing rehabs so education is key!

Anyway, thanks for the help.


Re: It depends… - Posted by Scott (ATL)

Posted by Scott (ATL) on April 29, 2000 at 10:46:28:


Yes, those are all things I have no clue about so what do you think is the best way to determine this before putting an offer on a house. I, obviously, need to have an estimate in mind before putting the offer down.

I want to make sure that if we buy the house that I?m not going to be stuck with thousands in actual repairs. If I find a house like this again should I bring an Inspector or maybe someone that could do this kind of work to take a look before putting down an offer or should I make the offer contingent on the findings of the floor/foundation?

Additional thoughts?


Re: Rehab question…Sloping floors - Posted by Scott (ATL)

Posted by Scott (ATL) on April 29, 2000 at 10:49:31:

It looks like everyone agrees that it probably does have to be addressed. That is one hurdle I needed to get over now it is just “how to determine the cost of a particular floor problem”.


Re: Rehab question…Sloping floors - Posted by Troy M

Posted by Troy M on April 29, 2000 at 15:17:21:


I think before you go spending money on an inspection, you need to know for sure that the seller will sell at your price/terms. Get it under contract first (with an inspection clause). So, the question is how to estimate your repair costs. You’ll get better at it as you go. For the first few, you may want to get contractors to give you estimates prior to making the offer. One word of caution, if you do this several times, your contractor may not like you much. That is, unless you have a good relationship with one who will be doing all or most of your work. Don’t be afraid to pad your estimate. I do, and have yet to spend less than my original budget. Also, sometimes you can get a contractor to give you “ballpark” numbers over the phone if you ask the right questions.

I don’t get a home inspection at all, but I am considering it. There are some inspection companies that do the home inspection and a termite inspection for a reduced ‘combo’ rate (and you should be able to get an even better rate if you tell them what you do and that you’ll be a repeat customer). My tentative plan is to get those inspections before we do any work, then make sure all of the items noted on the inspection are addressed, then use that inspection report as a selling tool. I’m still on the fence with that though. Hope this helps.

Troy M

Start with what you know and want to achieve… - Posted by David Krulac

Posted by David Krulac on April 29, 2000 at 18:28:59:

in cheapo house you can get away without fixing floors.
I presume that you’re doing high grade fixup/restoration and resale? Home inspections are realtively cheap, and I have used them when buying as well as selling, though now always. Around here they cost $200-$300. Some are better than others, some are more thorough and some are buyer’s inspectors and some are seller’s inspectors if you get my drift.

we once jacked up an addition on a 100 year old house replaced the piers and lowered it level on to its new resting place. it was very expensive, but was hard work that we did ourselves. i don’t think i would want to jack up a whole house.

in any event you need to know what the cause of the problem, it could be settling, or termites etc. and most importantly what the cost of repair. an inspector or a contractor can help nail down the cause and cost of the cure.
David Krulac