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lzr1945 09-07-2010 11:37 AM

Lowering One Corner of A House
I purchased a 4 year old house in Washington State that was built with one corner 2 1/2 inches higher than the other 3 corners. The house is built on a steep hill with a stair-cased foundation that is flat and level, but the pony walls between the foundation and house were built uneven. There are pony walls of varying heights under three sides of the house, and two of them ramp up to a high corner in the back. Each subsequent 2x6 stud outward from the high corner is 1/8 inch shorter than the next. I believe the moron who framed the house marked the length of each stud with the one he just cut, which subtracts off an 1/8th inch of saw kerf each time (i.e., blade thickness).

Is it possible to lower the high corner by cutting the pony wall studs down appropriately, or is a framed house stiff enough to remain cantilevered up without ever dropping?

The entire back wall needs to be lowered across its full 30 foot length, but the adjacent side wall only needs to be lowered out about 17 feet from its corner. I've considered relieving the weight of the house from the pony wall studs with screw jacks placed between each stud. Then detach the siding and wafer board from the sill plate and cut the bottom of the studs down as needed. But would the house come down by lowering the screw jacks a little each day? With the bottoms of the studs removed the house would no longer be tied into the foundation until it dropped back down far enough to toe nail the studs and wafer board back into the sill plate. Is there any chance of it falling over while unsecured from the foundation?

I'm concerned that the shear strength of the waver board tied into the wall studs all the way up from the crawl space to the attic two floor above might act like a torque box and resist lowering. But if the house drops 2 1/2 inches will the cement based siding all crack off, or just the drywall if I'm lucky? Any concerns with windows along those walls?

Perhaps an easier way to level the house is to lay a new layer of sub floor over the existing, with custom taper shims directly over the floor joists. But this would be a bandaid and require cutting off the bottoms of doors, raising toilets, etc.

handyguys 09-07-2010 02:35 PM

Hmmmm - Anything is possible. Unfortunately the mistake in level early in the building process has been carried through to everything. For example, I'll bet the windows are essentially level, channg the floor/wall/foundation/etc. will then make the windows/doors and maybe even plumbing drains incorrect.

I would just say live with it. After a while of living there you wont notice. Your friends and neighbors wont notice.

I remember reading about somone who had a foundation out of square. The foundation guys had one extra form section in one wall making it 16" (I think) longer than it should have been. Maybe it was the footing guy who messed up first. Anyway, it caused issues throughout the whole build. It was the guys building the floor framing who realized the mistake. They worked around it, so did the drywall guys, cabinet guys, carpet guys, everyone. It was a big pain in the arse. Fortunately no one can really tell and the homeowner has a few more square feet than his neighbor. I may have read about that here actually, I forget.

Anyway - trying to fix it now is opening a 55 gallon can of worms (my opinion)

lzr1945 09-08-2010 12:09 PM

Unfortunately its extremely noticeable to all who walk across the floors, and very annoying. Balls will not stay put on the floor, marbles roll off the counter tops, and three doors won't stay open without a doorstop. I would like to fix it.

nealtw 11-29-2010 05:37 PM

Yes you can do this but I would do it slowly to let the house settle as you go. You could knock out and replace one stud at a time. with shorter ones by 1/8 " or so and next week do it again. You could do it all at once if you can find some way to jack up the whole back of the house, but you still want to take some time setting it down. Last summer we lifted the back of a house for the same reason. the house did bend into place but only when it wanted to. A few cracks in the drywall. Re leveled 2 windows. We added a bellyband around the house to hide the dammage we did.

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