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Basement troubles!

I live in a 1920s house that is in one of our historic districts. The exterior walls of the house are composed of layers of wood siding, asbestos siding and steel siding on top which goes all the way to the ground (there are no masonary foundation walls except for a short wall of brick right at the ground level). Half of the basement floor is dirt and was not completely dug out but is sort of terraced all the way to the outside wall. The rest of the basement has a concrete floor with drains. The supports for the house are wooden posts that are checking and some that have been replaced due to what looks to me like old termite damage. In periods of rain, water runs from the front, street-level, end of the house through the dirt floor to the drains on the concrete part. There is minimal framing on the interior walls of the basement. The 2 exterior doors are 2 steps above the floor and are accessed by stacked cinder blocks which are wobbly and not safe. O.k., now here are my questions; 1. What is involved in adding steel support posts (I am assuming that would be a good idea?), 2. Would it be o.k. to seal off the dirt area of the basement with a wall or would it be better to dig that part out too and then pour a new concrete floor?, 3. I would like to add a stoop in front of the exterior doors so that it would be comfortable going out the doors with arms full of recycling, laundry, etc. Because of the dampness, I am thinking a poured concrete stoop, is that a good idea? I know this is a lot but I just do not know where to start. Any advice would be appreciated.

Re: Basement troubles!

I'm a very experienced Carpenter but unless you were putting in a full perimeter foundation wall system, I'd defer this to an engineer. A house on posts with unknown footings is not a good situation at all even if it has held up since the 20's.

If they had the easy access to brick, block, and concrete we do today, you can be sure they would have built foundations the way we do today because they are so much better. No, it's not historic but that's what is going to make the structure endure best and it can be made to look proper for the period. And if you make any alterations in a Historic District you're going to have to gain permission from the proper authorities to make those changes so the best idea is to look into that first.


Re: Basement troubles!

What Phil said plus;

Beef up the foundation if you EVER intend on expanding upwards.

Re: Basement troubles!

And before you do any interior remodeling, stabilize the foundation and level out the floors by leveling the joists and beams as much as possible. Remodeling a house that's not level ensures that it can never be leveled in the future.

Any improvements made after uneven settling will likely be unlevel after the floors have been leveled.

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Re: Basement troubles!

I want to thank all of you for replying. Hiring a structual engineer to fix the basement is exactly what I want to do. Now if you can give me any advice on getting the husband to go along with the plan, my day would be set! ; - ).

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