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Old 07-29-2010, 04:48 PM
 
Location: Baton Rouge
1,734 posts, read 4,940,058 times
Reputation: 650

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This house was built in 1953 by my in-laws and has about 3,000 square feet. I would call it federal revival in style. It sits on very valuable water front property with a slope and an overall elevation change of about 20 feet from the street to the water's edge. From the street it appears to only have one story, but there are actually three different floors. The front yard is level and the backyard is level, the house was built on top of the slope that connects these two planes. There is a finished daytime basement on the water front side.

I can vaguely remember the first problems starting about 15 years ago when doors started to stick on one side of the house. Now, one side of the house has decided to start moving and the other side is staying put. The parlor has two pretty large pairs of cracks. The older one reaches all the way from the basement and seems to continue to the second floor. One has just appeared this spring and seems to be expanding pretty quickly. A month ago it was only in the basement but now it is half way up the wall in the parlor. We fabricated several pillars to put in the mostly un-used basement on that side of the house since we're slightly worried something might collapse.

Recently my 92 y.o. mother in law who is not doing well asked what we would be doing with the house after she is gone. My wife and her sisters all disagree about it. My wife and I want to explore the possibility of repairing the foundation--the in laws spared no expense building this house and it is still a pretty nice house. One sister wants to bulldoze it and build a new house on the property. Another sister wants to just try to sell it as is.

I would fix it myself...but this is not my house, and my MIL can no longer afford something like that herself. Without the cooperation of the two sisters, we really can't move forward with anything major. I am having someone come out to at least tell us if it's even safe for habitation anymore. I have these mental images of one leaf to many landing on the roof and the whole thing coming down...

Have any of you repaired a foundation on a house that is built on a slope? Does that make a big difference in cost as opposed to a house built on a level lot? I imagine working with three stories also makes it more expensive because anything that happens on the basement level will affect everything else? Am I on the right track?
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Old 07-29-2010, 05:28 PM
 
Location: Apple Valley Calif
7,475 posts, read 19,561,668 times
Reputation: 5575
SABER - Concrete & Foundation Leveling
This company did my foundation repair. Mine was a large, two story home, but they can do large commercial building many time larger than a home. The slope makes no difference. They put in posts down to bedrock, so once repaired the fix is permanent.
They have to evaluate each situation. My repair required five posts to be installed. They cut holes in the floor of my home, put in hydraulic jacks, forced special pipes down to bedrock, and then raise the home back up to level. The pipes and brackets are then welded in place, the holes filled, and your done.
Depending on where the problem is, they may be able to dig along the outside of your home to place the jacks. In my case the main support wall that ran right through the house, so they cut 3X3 holes in the floor every six feet. Once the pipes are bottomed out on bedrock, they start jacking up the foundation. You can stand inside and watch the doors, cabinets, etc go right back into square. Amazing process and it's guaranteed for, as I remember, 20 years. I later sold the house and paid the company $100 to transfer the guarantee to the new owner.
I'm completely sold on the process. It saved me a lot of money compared to what other companies with other methods wanted to charge me.
Telling you what I paid would do no good, as you have a different house, different situation, and different state. But I was thrilled with the price compared to the alternative. Call them, I believe they are a nation wide company.Look under "Piering sevices, it shows what my problem required...
Read the web site completely, it explains everything.
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Old 07-29-2010, 06:52 PM
 
Location: Johns Creek, GA
11,876 posts, read 45,659,960 times
Reputation: 12996
There's really no way to determine what exactly is occurring without a physical inspection.
But from your description- you at least need to contact a structural engineer. Maybe you can find an engineering firm that also has a soils engineer on staff. Because, at face value of your description I'd say you have an inadequate foundation for the total load and/or a bad soil condition. Which could or couldn't have anything to do with drainage around the structure.
That of course is just speculation- which is all anyone could give you here on this forum.
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Old 07-29-2010, 08:23 PM
QIS
 
864 posts, read 3,794,214 times
Reputation: 513
Donn2390,
I notice that you are in Apple Valley; was the house you had that work done in Apple Valley? That is the coolest thing I have read in a long time. Would you mind if I pm'd you about it? ( I understand if not of course)
MetroBTR: Donn is on the right track. Firstly like k'ledge builder eluded to;get a geotechnical engineer out and have them look at your property. Before you hire them to do an evaluation ( it will probably cost money), ask them if they work with local contractors that are capable of doing this type of prescribed repair and get their names up front so you can check them out simultaneously. Anticipate that you have be doing some sort of footing augmentation or sinking piers/caissons or something to keep the house from moving like Donn did. Donn has a slab on grade foundation, you probably have a raised foundation; in either case keep your hopes up for the house as it probably can be repaired. It will be expensive to the minds and check books of most people,but, cheaper than bulldozing and rebuilding. Start shopping for geotechnical engineers with experience and a great reputation and let us know what happens OK?
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Old 07-29-2010, 08:53 PM
 
Location: Baton Rouge
1,734 posts, read 4,940,058 times
Reputation: 650
Quote:
Originally Posted by K'ledgeBldr View Post
There's really no way to determine what exactly is occurring without a physical inspection.
But from your description- you at least need to contact a structural engineer. Maybe you can find an engineering firm that also has a soils engineer on staff. Because, at face value of your description I'd say you have an inadequate foundation for the total load and/or a bad soil condition. Which could or couldn't have anything to do with drainage around the structure.
That of course is just speculation- which is all anyone could give you here on this forum.
Now that you say it, it could be that the foundation has been inadequate the whole time. It's a very large house with a fairly small footprint, and there is alot more weight on the backside of the house than there is on the front side.

I'm pretty sure it was one of the first houses in that town that was built with a slab. Most older homes have crawlspaces. Maybe whoever poured it didn't have much experience working with a slab...on a hillside at that. The only sloping lots around here are directly on the lake. Everything else is flat as a pancake. That said, there is also alot of water that drains into the lake from the surrounding area. Combine that with moisture sensative clay soil, and I guess you have a recipe for foundation disaster.
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Old 07-29-2010, 09:32 PM
QIS
 
864 posts, read 3,794,214 times
Reputation: 513
A lot is going to depend on what the engineer says. I seen PLENTY of newer homes with soils related issues that are not "properly" accounted for is one way or the other. There are more than community near me that have similar issues and they are less than 30 years old! I'm more concerned about the condition of your slab now. A raised foundation house has some pluses when it comes to repair and augmentation that a slab does not. Let the maybes pan out with a good assessment and some opinions from the contractors. You may end up in a prescribed repair something like donn's. Even though its expensive, be prepared to get more than one opinion!
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Old 07-30-2010, 08:04 AM
 
Location: Somewhere in northern Alabama
16,839 posts, read 51,286,023 times
Reputation: 27642
K builder is right, as usual. However, I note this that everyone seems to be glossing over...

"Recently my 92 y.o. mother in law who is not doing well asked what we would be doing with the house after she is gone. My wife and her sisters all disagree about it. My wife and I want to explore the possibility of repairing the foundation--the in laws spared no expense building this house and it is still a pretty nice house. One sister wants to bulldoze it and build a new house on the property. Another sister wants to just try to sell it as is.

I would fix it myself...but this is not my house, and my MIL can no longer afford something like that herself. Without the cooperation of the two sisters, we really can't move forward with anything major."

You have a battle brewing that could tear your relationships apart. If the 92 YO MIL is competent, I would advise her to have the place put up for auction upon her death, and the funds realized be distributed according to her will. That way, if you were interested, you could bid on it at auction, and her estate would be maximized for all inheritors (including your wife and yourself), whether you bid enough or not.
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Old 07-30-2010, 08:35 AM
QIS
 
864 posts, read 3,794,214 times
Reputation: 513
Harry may be right..every family is different. It would be a shame to make an uneducated decision though....This is what I saw in the op
"It sits on very valuable water front property"
Selling water front property in a down market is leaving LOTS of money on the table. Get some bids. Will the price of repair and stabilization overwhelm the possible equity when the market recovers? I doubt it. Have a nice agreement drawn up that gives everyone a fair share of the expenses and profit and requires them to be nice until it sells at a pre agreed upon price or more. Something to that effect it can have whatever detail and assurances everyone agrees on . Money; even money in the future has a way generating cooperation! Its worth a shot!
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Old 07-30-2010, 09:45 AM
 
Location: Apple Valley Calif
7,475 posts, read 19,561,668 times
Reputation: 5575
Quote:
Originally Posted by QIS View Post
Donn2390,
I notice that you are in Apple Valley; was the house you had that work done in Apple Valley? That is the coolest thing I have read in a long time. Would you mind if I pm'd you about it? ( I understand if not of course)
MetroBTR: Donn is on the right track. Firstly like k'ledge builder eluded to;get a geotechnical engineer out and have them look at your property. Before you hire them to do an evaluation ( it will probably cost money), ask them if they work with local contractors that are capable of doing this type of prescribed repair and get their names up front so you can check them out simultaneously. Anticipate that you have be doing some sort of footing augmentation or sinking piers/caissons or something to keep the house from moving like Donn did. Donn has a slab on grade foundation, you probably have a raised foundation; in either case keep your hopes up for the house as it probably can be repaired. It will be expensive to the minds and check books of most people,but, cheaper than bulldozing and rebuilding. Start shopping for geotechnical engineers with experience and a great reputation and let us know what happens OK?
Of course As far as getting a structural engineer, it's a good idea. That's where I started. I got an excellent guy, and he did an inspection and found out the problems.
His estimate for repairs was $250,000...!! I about chocked, as you can imagine.
so with further investigation, I found Saber. After getting a price a small fraction of the other bid, I contacted my structural engineer to get his opinion before contracting with a guy to do something I had never heard of before.
He studied the process and gave me the go ahead, so I went for it. The city the house is in is Yorba Linda, California, up in the hills.
The YL building department had never hear of the process, either, but they did an investigation and approved the method, and followed it closely, because it was new to them. The building inspectors were very impressed, and that city is known for the toughest inspectors anywhere around.
I have nothing bad to say about any part of the process. It was a hassle, but worth it. We had to empty out the downstairs and remove all the flooring so they could cut holes in the floor.We lived with dirt piles in our house for a week, but it turned out great. Wanna se picture of the house when we finished..?
Let me know if there is anything else I can help you with.. I lived it..!
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Old 07-30-2010, 11:02 AM
 
Location: Apple Valley Calif
7,475 posts, read 19,561,668 times
Reputation: 5575
Quote:
Originally Posted by QIS View Post
Donn2390,
I notice that you are in Apple Valley; was the house you had that work done in Apple Valley? That is the coolest thing I have read in a long time. Would you mind if I pm'd you about it? ( I understand if not of course)
Feel free to PM me if you wish. I see you are in Redlands, so you know the area.
My home was in the hills of Yorba Linda, in view of the #91 Freeway, near the Wier Canyon/Yorba Linda off ramp.
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