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How Would You Fix It? Garage Foundation

Posted August 27, 2014 2:20 PM by SavvyExacta

The photos below are of a pre-1900 building that was most recently used as a garage. As you can see, there is a problem with the foundation.

A plan for dealing with it is already underway.

But I'm curious... what would YOU do? Tear it down? Fix it? Rebuild? Run away? Something else?

I know you'll all want more details, so here's what I know:

  • The building is located in the Northeastern US.
  • Some of this building's issues were caused by water.
  • At some point, the building was up against a hillside on the left side and the back side--on the back, you can see a diagonal mark from the dirt that starts at the upper left corner and goes to the lower right (the side where the damage is). Most of the hillside has been dug away 2-3 feet from the building.
  • Some modifications were made over the years--the building was shimmed/cobbed inside to the point that jacking it too high will damage the structure and the new roof.
  • It looks good from the front, but you can see that the side has a bow.
  • The side of the building you see in the photos sits higher than the other side.

Disclaimer: Professionals have been consulted. I just thought it'd make a good conversation among everyone here at CR4!

Click here to read about the fix.

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#1

Re: How Would You Fix It? Garage Foundation

08/27/2014 3:25 PM

The foundation wall has rolled, this due in part to outside earth being removed. There are other contributing factors evident, and likely more not evident that a review of the building history would reveal. This section of concrete foundation can be replaced, maybe with a stemwall or grade beam, the failed wall framing corrected.

This is fixable, not a real big deal... except...

One very large and red flag from your blog: "The side of the building you see in the photos sits higher than the other side." So the remaining unseen sections of the building have settled more that the side seen here. This may be a deal killer.

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#11
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Re: How Would You Fix It? Garage Foundation

08/28/2014 7:19 AM

You are the only one who: knows the value of the building, knows what use you would have for it, knows your abilities and skill level, knows your financial situation, and knows all the alternatives. This is a good forum for specific technical questions. But, it doesn't work very well for value judgements.

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#12
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Re: How Would You Fix It? Garage Foundation

08/28/2014 7:52 AM

That's why you call an expert for an analysis and estimate. Maybe more than one, too.

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#2

Re: How Would You Fix It? Garage Foundation

08/27/2014 3:38 PM

What is that in your last pic... interior shot, showing a stepladder... the back wall, is that CMU (concrete masonry units, or concrete block)?

Cobbled together, falling apart, dirt floor, no heat, 120 years old, water issues, uneven settling... unless this structure has some significance, demolition has moved closer to the top of my menu of recommended actions.

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#21
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Re: How Would You Fix It? Garage Foundation

09/02/2014 2:35 AM

But it has a new roof and all it needs is to preserve the investment!

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#23
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Re: How Would You Fix It? Garage Foundation

09/02/2014 9:31 AM

"But it has a new roof and all it needs is to preserve the investment!"

A poor choice was made to install the new roof. Sort of like lipstick on a pig. The building is a pig and it's time to make some bacon.

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#3

Re: How Would You Fix It? Garage Foundation

08/27/2014 4:17 PM

With proper support, an air bag or bags will "float" this structure.

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#4

Re: How Would You Fix It? Garage Foundation

08/27/2014 4:37 PM

Why not kill two birds with one stone?

  1. Park your Chevrolet Cavalier in the garage
  2. Make sure your auto and home owner's insurance is payed up to date
  3. Submit a post to CR4 "My Cavalier will not start. There is a strong smell of gas when I crank the engine"
  4. Use a lit match to search for fuel leaks.
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#5
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Re: How Would You Fix It? Garage Foundation

08/27/2014 5:29 PM

"Use a lit match to search for fuel leaks" With the help of one of those 10 foot poles we've all heard of, I hope.

As for the building, it's time to cut the losses.

Unless it has significant historical value, find someone who wants to salvage the old wood and give it to them for doing the demo.

The walls are crooked, the foundation's shot, the windows probably won't open, termite, mold and moisture damage are probable and, depending on where it is, insurance and building permits may be a problem.

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#22
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Re: How Would You Fix It? Garage Foundation

09/02/2014 2:36 AM

I bet the moisture problem was the reason to put a new roof on there . . .

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#6

Re: How Would You Fix It? Garage Foundation

08/27/2014 5:36 PM

Looks like a good weekend project to me! No big deal there with anything I can see.

Bent and crooked walls can be jacked back into place and new concrete foundations with the proper design and depth for the soil conditions can be poured under the walls while they are jacked up or after the bad wood has been cut out and before the new wood goes in.

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#16
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Re: How Would You Fix It? Garage Foundation

08/28/2014 9:38 AM

This sort of surprises me... Those asphalt shingles will burn, there's prolly some building felt under them as a bonus.

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#7

Re: How Would You Fix It? Garage Foundation

08/27/2014 6:07 PM

Jack it up and pour a proper foundation.

What would I do? Probably call an expert and have them do it. That way they will assume the liability, but this isn't rocket science.

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#8

Re: How Would You Fix It? Garage Foundation

08/27/2014 6:27 PM

I'd get a bulldozer and push dirt from the side lifting and shifting the wall until it was plumb and level and square with the rest of the structure...then I'd frame around the wall and pour a concrete base to hold the shifty bricks supporting the wall in position....installing footers on either end and middle with rebar skeleton tying it all together...possibly continuing all around the house...if I was poor....now if I was dishonest and desperate, I would accidently burn the house to the ground and use the insurance money to rebuild or possibly relocate......now if I had plenty of money I would bulldoze the entire structure and start over....

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#9

Re: How Would You Fix It? Garage Foundation

08/27/2014 11:01 PM

There's nothing that can't be fixed given sufficient funds.

I could fix that.

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#10

Re: How Would You Fix It? Garage Foundation

08/27/2014 11:38 PM

If the white on the boards inside is fungus - you are too late in my opinion - there is too much rot.

If it is paint that has sprayed in from a paint job, you may be OK.

Check and see how much rot and mold you have. If the majority of the wood work is OK, then you can start renovations. Jack it up, have appropriate footings made, lower it back down on the new footings.

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#13

Re: How Would You Fix It? Garage Foundation

08/28/2014 9:27 AM

A large lift balloon, carefully affixed to strategic points,, can lift the structure clear.......

to the Emerald City.

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#14
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Re: How Would You Fix It? Garage Foundation

08/28/2014 9:36 AM

That's where the flying monkeys take over...

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#15

Re: How Would You Fix It? Garage Foundation

08/28/2014 9:38 AM

See if the guys on "This Old House" will help with the decision and do the work for free.

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#17
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Re: How Would You Fix It? Garage Foundation

08/28/2014 9:50 AM

I was fortunate to be watching the last episode with Narm and Bob together. Bob insisted on placing a ceduh shake siding while Narm explained that the shakes had to be staggud. Bob placed the shake contrary to Narm's direction and the rest is history.

I would have liked to have seen the outtakes from that one.

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#18
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Re: How Would You Fix It? Garage Foundation

08/28/2014 10:06 AM

Actually, every episode I have seen the budget always gets blown in the end, even after all the donations.

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#19
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Re: How Would You Fix It? Garage Foundation

08/28/2014 10:24 AM

The show was based roughly on the Three Stooges home repair episode where the light bulb fills with water.

The original title for "This Old House" was shortened from "This old house sho gone crazy".

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#20

Re: How Would You Fix It? Garage Foundation

08/28/2014 12:25 PM

Too much of the hill was dug away from the old foundation on the outside. Leaving the soil higher on the inside. Compaction of the soil by cars has put too much stress on it The foundation most likely was already cracked and broken at the time it was done. Dig along the foundation on the inside to relieve the stresses on it. You may then be able to stand it back up with a loader.

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#24

Re: How Would You Fix It? Garage Foundation

08/29/2015 10:58 PM

Several things can be done . First analyze and then start your work. Check access for materials coming in , enough room for a cement truck ? Renting some jacks may be necessary too . Your photos only provide a guessing game here . Not enough information . You have your homework cut out for you . Good luck .

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#25

Re: How Would You Fix It? Garage Foundation

11/16/2016 4:00 PM

Assuming time is not a controlling factor, by replacing it with 1-2 foot long, reinforced concrete segment, at a time, over the course of a year or two?...

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