Home>Discussions>HEALTH & SAFETY>Open foundation on post/beam barn conversion
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cocteau3
Open foundation on post/beam barn conversion

I'm interested in a property which is a converted post and beam barn, approximately 1200 square feet, rectangle layout. When it was converted, the posts were placed on concrete footers and the floor was framed by what I call sill joists - just joists bolted into the beam and floor joists attached conventionally with hangers. So it appears more like a deck with big beams. The foundation is essentially open because of having no conventional sill foundation. Metal siding is currently attached but only with boards and nails. Is it possible to use concrete block to build a wall from the ground up to the the floor in order to seal it from the weather? Is there any better way to create a "foundation" after the fact? I realize the structure is not going to rest on any new foundation, but the weather, cold, freezing, could be reduced. :o Plenty of people convert barns, but what do they do with this foundation issue? I suppose a proper concrete foundation below frost level would have to be the best if it could have been tied into the beam footers at the same time. Seems like the local code people went to sleep on this one. :confused:

Fencepost
Re: Open foundation on post/beam barn conversion

"Seems like the local code people went to sleep on this one."

Chances are the local code people never actually were involved. Built as an agricultural building, it's quite likely that at the time no permit was necessary. Then when converted into a home, no permit was applied for. If the conversion happened at a time when permits would have been required, then you may be looking at an illegal domicile.

You may have trouble retaining financing, because without a conventional foundation very few lenders will carry a mortgage. Not because there's really anything wrong with a post-and-beam foundation, but because it will be very difficult for them to sell when you default, because most people think that anything other than a traditional foundation is substandard. Of course, you won't default (right?), but they are only concerned about protecting THEIR investment, and the risk of not being able to recoup that investment is too great! And if they do a title check, they may discover unpermitted improvements and reject financing just on that.

Enough horror stories, though. Putting a concrete or cement block foundation under an existing structure is not uncommon. Usually it involves jacking up the structure enough to have working space, then lowering it back down on the foundation. But if the post and beam is structurally sound, braced against racking and seismic activity, and bolted to a concrete pier that extends below the frost line to mineral soil, there's really no need for a cement foundation. You could place a low concrete footing at ground level and install skirting. (You want a concrete footing in order to provide separation between soil and the skirting.) For added protection from the elements, you can insulate the skirting. Or you could abandon the skirting altogether and superinsulate the floor with spray-foam insulation; of course your plumbing will also need to be protected somehow. Then you leave it wide open under the house (but you could get animals living under there). At least you wouldn't have much of a radon concern! Your challenge will be to convince the local inspectors that it's a fine way to do it, since many of them may not trust anything other than what they are used to: concrete perimeter foundations.

sissy
Re: Open foundation on post/beam barn conversion

sounds like what they do on single wides and double wides here that they say are not on permanent foundations the put that skirting around it from the mobile home parts stores .The single wides and double wides have pier columns to hold the house up and tie downs to hold them down to the ground .I have seen people here that decide to block the foundation after and they just take the skirting off and build the block up to the bottom of the house and fill in what little is left .The pier columns are still holding all the weight of the house .The block is just there to keep the weather out and make it look like a finished house .Maybe you could do pier columns also .Check it out I would not know for sure about a post and beam barn .

LittleHome
Re: Open foundation on post/beam barn conversion
Fencepost wrote:

You may have trouble retaining financing, because without a conventional foundation very few lenders will carry a mortgage. Not because there's really anything wrong with a post-and-beam foundation, but because of my sizegenetics review it will be very difficult for them to sell when you default, because most people think that anything other than a traditional foundation is substandard.

Is it even legal to sell a property like this that breaks the building codes?

ed21
Re: Open foundation on post/beam barn conversion

It all depends where you live, how codes are enforced, what codes are enforced, when the building was constructed or modified, what a bank will lend money for and a few other things that aren't coming to mind at the moment.
Since the original poster never got back who knows the outcome.

dj1
Re: Open foundation on post/beam barn conversion
LittleHome wrote:

Is it even legal to sell a property like this that breaks the building codes?

It's buyer beware out there. If a property is sold "as is", it's up to the buyer to decide. It's up to him/her to inspect, verify, get estimates, etc.

If you buy a code deficient home, you better buy it for cash or bring it up to code if you seek financing (you or the seller).

Note: most code violations can become obstacles in obtaining financing, others can be grandfathered. Not all code violations created equal. The mortgage company will listen to their inspector.

dj1
Re: Open foundation on post/beam barn conversion
dj1 wrote:

It's buyer beware out there. If a property is sold "as is", it's up to the buyer to decide. It's up to him/her to inspect, verify, get estimates, etc.

If you buy a code deficient home, you better buy it for cash or bring it up to code if you seek financing (you or the seller).

Note: most code violations can become obstacles in obtaining financing, others can be grandfathered. Not all code violations created equal. The mortgage company will listen to their inspector.

In addition,

If the building department finds out about gross or life risking violations in a certain property, they can condemn the property, post a note that it's uninhabitable on it and rule that it must be vacated until repaired, brought up to code, inspected, approved and be cleared for a certificate of occupancy.

Like I said: buyer beware before signing a deposit receipt.

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