House out of level, foundation settled

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Old 04-27-16, 10:00 AM
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House out of level, foundation settled

I have a front-to-back split house built in 1955 that is not level. Obviously the foundation has settled for whatever reason.The front is lower than the rear. I have to level the bed with shims almost 2 inches or I feel like I am falling out. Any idea what my options are? I have just been living with it. Even if the house frame is shimmed, the finished basement would still be not level. Is there any way to level the entire structure from underneath the foundation? All comments and advice appreciated!

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  #2  
Old 04-27-16, 06:17 PM
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So far we have a picture of a snow covered house and almost no real usable info.
No idea what type foundation you even have.
Slab, crawl space, full basement?
No pictures under the home.
 
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Old 04-27-16, 08:41 PM
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Not a slab, split so half basement(rear) is finished with foundation wall separating that from half crawl space - just looking for high-level info at this point. I know nothing about about house leveling, if it is even done. Just throwing it out there. PS that was the only pic I had with the snow
 
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Old 04-27-16, 11:32 PM
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Hi VT,
The easy answer is, anything is possible,,, at a price. In Texas they build on slabs and due to the clay soil sometimes have to jack up the slab to level it. Here in New England I don't hear of those contractors much.

I can't even guess at the cost of leveling from the footing up and will assume it to be a poor investment as compared to leveling just the house as it sits on the concrete. If the lower slab is also out of level, then that would be addressed by itself.

At some point someone needs to determine the "why" and decide if it is done moving. If I lived there I would use a hose and a water level to get some numbers to know how much it has moved and where. If you can't do that, then start calling some people who jack up houses, They are often the ones who also move houses. The process of getting an estimate would also provide some useful information.

Bud
 
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Old 04-28-16, 05:47 AM
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THX Bud - I would even imagine even if just the structure was leveled/shimmed it would crack walls and plaster, etc.? It has been like this for a long time, it was my mothers house I have a feeling it was caused by downspout gutter water that used to exit around the foundation. Some years back after I took ownership I have routed all downspout drainage well away from the foundation and into the downslope behind the house, but the settling has already occurred.
 
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Old 04-28-16, 06:05 AM
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When a house is jacked up it isn't done all at once. The slower and more evenly the house is raised, the less likelihood there is of damage. But yes, plaster cracks are to be expected.
 
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Old 04-28-16, 06:11 AM
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A house would not be expected to settle or tip uniformly. There are probably multiple support columns down the center of the house of a center footing and wall. Those areas would not be affected in the same way as the perimeter due to water near the foundation (I"m guessing). Thus the suggestion of a water level to map out where the highs and lows are. You might find a smaller area that is more easily corrected than the entire house.

As for the plaster cracking and issues with doors and windows, certainly will happen on a 60 year old house. Even more difficult will be all of the adjustments that have been made over time that would then need to be undone. But 2" over the width or length of a bed sounds dire.

Best,
Bud
 
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Old 04-28-16, 06:15 AM
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I guess I didn't explain it very well what I meant to imply was you don't just jack up one spot to the desired height and then move to the next but rather you'd work at getting it all even and then continue at an even rate.

That's the great thing about this forum, if one of us forgets something or explains it poorly another will jump in and make sure the info is correct
 
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Old 04-28-16, 07:30 AM
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As someone else mentioned, it is a common ordeal here in the south. Living in Louisiana, foundation companies stay pretty busy. Actually, since our house just flooded last month & are doing some upgrades during reconstruction, we are having this done on our home next week. Its been an issue for quite awhile.

I dont think I need to say that homes here & up north are built very differently. Our home is a one story, no basement & is on a slab. This whole area through here is what we call Gumbo soil. When Gumbo is wet it swells big time. When its dry it shrinks. When dry, it will actually crack open with large cracks in it. The drier it gets, the more it shrinks. The wetter it gets, the more it swells/expands. Because it shrinks & cracks when dry, when it does rain, the soil sometimes washes into the cracks etc. Therefore, the soil is disturbed, thus the foundation for the home has changed. It dries, then rains, dries, then rains. Over a period of time, you have a section of your home that doesn't have a good solid foundation under it & it becomes unlevel, therefore the house becomes unlevel. When the Gumbo expands & shrinks, the home (or atleast part of the home) rises & falls with the shrinking & expanding soil. As the house (or part of the house, usually one end) moves up & down. You begin to see cracks in the dry wall/sheet rock & around the doors. Doors & windows wont open or close etc because its not square any more.

Now, generally speaking, everyone basically fixes this the same way but use a variation of specific techniques.
Usually, the foundation contractors will determain where the issue is & decide how many "pins" they need to place under the slab to support the home.
At that point, they dig one hole for each pin (usually by hand) right under the edge or footing of the concrete slab/foundation (sometimes in the center of a room etc). From this point is how some contractors do it a bit differently. So for reference, I'll talk about how the contractor I chose specifically will fix mine.
They are putting 10 pins under one end of my home. Three on the south side of the house, seven on the east side (including under the carport). The lowest point of the issue is on the southeast corner. The rest of the house is level.
Once holes are dug by hand/shovels, they put a specially designed & constructed concrete pin in each hole. Then put a 50 ton jack between the slab & each pin & slowly push all pins equally. All jacks are connected together, so each jack can be operated with one lever or the option of individual controls. Using individual controls to get all jacks at proper levels, then using one leaver to move all jacks at the same rate & speed equally.
Once the jacks push that pin all the way into the ground, they insert another pin on top of the first & push it in the ground. Then a third pin, then a fourth, & continue this until the first pin hits solid soil & wont move any further. Once the pins reach solid, hard, stable soil, the house is then shimmed to ensure the slab is level all the way around.
Because the home now sits on pins which is on solid soil, the top soil can move all it wants without the slab/home moving with it. The home is now stable.

Like anything else, its not 100% fool proof & sometimes does need to be re-shimmed & sometimes there is still movement & needs to be adjusted or evaluated. But its a pretty safe/sure bet to fix/repair the problem.

I got three bids... they quoted from $7000, $7600 & $9500.

Now, can this be done to your home? I don't know cause again, homes in the north & south are constructed differently & I am not familiar with home construction in the north, basements, crawl spaces etc. We just dont have those things down here as a general rule.

Hope this helps..... good luck.
 
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Old 04-28-16, 09:08 AM
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There is a process called mud jacking. You could do a search for concrete contractors in your area that do this.
It's normally used to raise and level slabs but I believe your foundation walls might also be good candidates. That can only be determined by the contractor. Obviously 2" is pretty serious.

Mud jacking involves injecting grout into the ground at very high pressure, lifting the building.
 
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Old 04-28-16, 09:22 AM
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THX to all for the info. If I were to GOOGLE for someone in my area who deals in this to get a more detailed opinion/estimate, what would be the buzz words? Is this something normal builders would deal with or is it highly specialized?
 
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Old 04-28-16, 10:12 AM
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Both mud jacking and lifting a house with jacks is a fairly specialized trade, not something most builders do
 
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Old 04-28-16, 10:28 AM
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Maybe check with a local building supply company or the BBB. My perception is any company that moves or lifts houses are going to be well known and probably an established business for decades. It's not something you jump into.
 
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Old 04-28-16, 11:23 AM
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THX - also I don't think it is just one spot, if I spill water or drop a ball on the floor it will immediately roll directly towards the front of the house.
 
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Old 04-28-16, 11:37 AM
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Buds suggestion of a house moving company is the most feasible option imo. Its possible that they would need to insert iron beams under the house temporarily to lift it. Depending on the type of foundation (don't see where you said if its poured concrete or block walls) it may or may not be feasible to level the foundation. Shimming the sill plate with a variety of dimensional lumber or plywood layers before setting it back down might be more viable.
 
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Old 04-28-16, 11:45 AM
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It is poured concrete. Funny side story, in the crawl space there are dog prints all over the floor, some dog in 1955 went in while the concrete was setting and it was never redone..
 
 

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