October 14, 2014

Porch Foundation - An Upcoming Challenge

From the outside it looks pretty good.

Once Dan pulled the porch floor out, however, the foundation didn't look so good from the inside.

The first challenge will be deciding what to do. The second will be doing it.

Continued here.


Mike Yukon said...

Don't you just hate surprises like this! I've had my share of them and all I do is step back, let the blood pressure go down, then fix it the right way.

Farmer Barb said...

When we had to re-support the whole 48 foot length of our first floor, we had to support the whole length of our second floor first. The slab had caved into a void from the HVAC ducts, too. We dug it out. Then we built a new, level floor. Then we put up an entire studded wall about three feet back of the original outside. Only then could we demolish the old supports. Steel jacks like you have already, but wall height were installed under a steel beam that was installed. Call me a fortune teller, but I see a steel jack in your future.

Meredith said...

That's a bummer! Good luck.

Ed said...

The new season (the most recent episode that just aired in fact) of This Old House had a similar problem on a brick building in Boston that they are fixing. They ended up using mortar and just applying it to the entire interior surface like a stucco. They did scrape out any loose mortar first. After it had dried, it looked like a concrete surface almost on the inside but still had the nice looking brick on the outside. I think that would be what I would try. Tuck pointing just seems beyond a DIY person like me and it would be a shame to loose the character of the brick on the outside.

Kev Alviti said...

Every job creates another with an old house!

Mama Pea said...

I'm betting Dan already has it figured out. It continues to amaze me what the two of you manage to do with your older house and the serious problems you find when renovating.

I so wish we had had "blogging" back in the day when we worked on our last home in Illinois. You know, for the good documentation. The original structure of that house was a . . . wait for it . . . lodging house for a stagecoach stop!! (Ask Dan if that makes him feel a little better!)

Judy said...

I kind of like Ed's comment on concreting inside face. But I'm wondering if it would be less mental aggravation to completely remove the porch brick work and either rebuild with proper footings or do something different and more modern. I see too many opportunities for continued rodent problems with a patch job to the current porch foundation.

Leigh said...

Mike, seems like we ought to be used to them by now, doesn't it!

Barb, we were just looking at steel beams last night. The porch is about 28.5 by 8 (bedroom side) or 10 (living room side). Jacks or piers are one option, of which we're weighing all!

Meredith, thanks! It all comes with old houses. :)

Ed, that's very interesting. I almost wish we still had TV. We would like to retain the brick look for the porch foundation, because it matches the rest of the house. I keep telling Dan it won't show much anyway, once we get fruit trees, flowers, and herbs growing in the front yard.

Kev, that was why we procrastinated so long on tackling this!

Mama Pea, yes, a blog is a wonderful record of problems and solutions, of before and after. Amazing that you had a house that was a stagecoach stop! Wonderful history.

Judy, Ed's suggestion is something we talked about. And Dan did dig down and discover a brick footer under the foundation. The plan now is to take out all the brick, chip off the original mortar (which is very soft and easy to scrape) and the rebuild it with new mortar. Dan says he isn't a bricklayer, but he's done a passable job in the past.

Jessika said...

I HEAR YA. I redid our front steps two years ago and learned that the person who made them didn't do a good support job of our landing-- they didn't use the right material and didn't water seal it, so the plywood they used is rotting. So... at some point, it will crack.

I"m glad I know about it, but I'm also grumpy that I know. Oh well... one step closer to tearing the whole thing out and having a wrap-around porch, right? :) At least you can work on getting to the botttom of where critters get into the house at... and the cold in the house.

small farm girl said...

Wow! It's like whoever was doing the brick work didn't care! Very disappointing.

Sandy Livesay said...


I hate surprises like this. I know you and Dan will come up with some creative ideas to handle this surprise.

Leah said...

Wow! That looks like a mess, good thing you two are getting lots of practical experience with the house and barn! The way you two continually tackle the problems you find just amazes me! Good luck!!

Su Ba said...

An idea.....if you plan to just try a concrete facing, look into the fiber additives to concrete. They give the concrete a lot more strength and stability. I've added the fibers to our homemade concrete foundation blocks. The ones with the fibers didn't crack in our big earthquake while the two without the fibers cracked. Just a thought.

Ed said...

Thanks to the modern age, you don't need a television. Here is a link to the episode I talked about.


Kaat said...

We came across something similar a few weeks ago, when we had the front balcony removed: a thoroughly rotten sill running almost the entire length of the front of our house. We wish we had your skills and could do this kind of work ourselves, but where structural stuff is concerned, we backed off and hired someone. He did a great job, and found no termites, etc. So it ended well.

Harry Flashman said...

I'm impressed that you two can do so much on your own. In my family, my wife is the one who gets us going on projects. I am reluctantly dragged in to help.

Leigh said...

Jessika, I keep trying to make excuses for the person who built our house, but that doesn't make the repairs any easier! Definitely feeling good about getting the crawl space sealed off.

Small Farm Girl, part of it is the kind of mortar they used back in the day. If I'm remembering correctly, they included more lime than we do, which made for a softer end product. It was the same for the fireplace chimney; Dan could poke his finger between the bricks. It was super easy to take it down. We replaced that with good double walled chimney pipe.

Sandy, we've learned to expect them! Dan has an excellent book on renovating old homes and we have stacks of back issues of This Old House. The hard part is not letting that creativity get too elaborate!

Leah, well, it has to be done!

Su Ba, interesting, thanks for that tidbit. Dan has decided to rebuild with the same bricks, but when we get to the barn foundation, you're idea might be just the thing.

Ed, thank you! We always did like that show. :)

Kaat, good to hear from you! So glad you discovered the problem and had someone good to fix it.

Harry, Dan's always been a project guy. When he was a kid he helped his dad build a couple of houses so has a lot of basic skills and knowledge. And now, with YouTube, there isn't anything you can't teach yourself!