DIY Home Improvement, Remodeling & Repair Forum

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Matthew 03-10-2006 08:40 AM

Main girder
I am looking at buying a house and noticed that the first floor girder in rotten on one side. I was just wondering how much of a problem it would be to fix and how to go about it.
The house is old and you can pretty much pull the beam apart it is so rotted. Them beam would need atleast four feet replaced.

inspectorD 03-10-2006 07:26 PM

Welcome, A few questions ,are you sure its only four feet?What about other damage to joists or sills? What caused this in the first place? Just because you fix the beam does not mean you fixed the original problem.

Last ,, I have to do it guy's....Did you get a qualified Home Inspection??


Square Eye 03-10-2006 09:00 PM

ugh, I hope you can answer him "yes". heh-heh.

Matthew, you would have to support everything around the girder. The floor joists, the end of the girder that you are going to leave,,maybe more. Then you can cut the rot out. SOMETIMES, you will find that the girder is rotten down the center between the 2 bys and the repair grows. Be prepared to replace more than you think and to stagger your splice with 2 bys cut at least 2ft longer/shorter, kind of finger jointed together. A stack of 2 bys butt jointed (all cut to the same length) will not have much integrity and could possibly creel over or start to separate and spread and could lead to even more problems. After the splice is made, support both ends of the splice and double check the pockets in the foundation walls. make sure that the wood is not in direct contact with the concrete. Tar paper is better than nothing to separate the wood from the concrete. On the support piers, use steel shims on top, not wood. Pour a footer pad and use 8" or wider masonry blocks with mortar between. The mortar will distribute the load across the blocks evenly.

It IS a BIG job. I personally hate to do anything to a girder after it's installed.

Tom in KY, Do not ignore InspectorD's post. Check it all out. A home inspection before you buy is not a bad deal.

Matthew 03-13-2006 08:41 AM

Thanks alot. The house is on a hill so the water runs right down into the basement, it never sits in it though it is an in and out flow. The basement was built for the water to run through it (crazy). Which I know brings up the question what else is rotton (sills etc.). I did look at the beam pretty close and whithout cutting it it looks good 4 to 6 feet back. The people who own it now had somebody come in and resupport it (quick fix) in other terms, still not the right way though. I know I have to put some sort of irrigation on the uphill side to redirect the water. To answer the inspection question no, but the house isn't on the market and it is a friend with a good deal but I know I am going to get the inspection before I do anything with buying in.

inspectorD 03-13-2006 01:43 PM

This house???
Sounds like you are going to get a deal on the house, Thats good.
The issue is how much money do you need to put in to make it worthwhile in your location. Im sure you know all this going in.

The irigation you talk about is called a curtain drain or swale around the home to direct water away.Also consider the gutters to have a seperate leader system directing water away.

The rot in the basement can not all be found by a home inspectionas they are visual only, No taking apart of any systems is standard since you dont actually own the home.

My opinion would be to get the inspection first to find any other problems, then you have all your defects listed and your to do list ready.Then you can prioritize you pro's and con's list.

If you need a qualified ,LICENCED (New this month in NY) Professional, Go to

Good luck on your home buying. If you get it we will all have a good time helping you out with your projects.:D


mikesewell 03-15-2006 04:14 AM

An inspection is cheap insurance. Don't buy a house without an inspection.

Water in the basement is BAD NEWS, and is a good reason to consider a different house, unless you can get this one cheap enough to more than offset the cost of repairing the damage, and fixing the cause. Before you buy, make sure that you get legitimate estimates for the repairs from contractors who are not associated with your real estate agents.

The Girder repair itself is usually relatively cheap, quick, and easy for someone who is experienced in heavy structural work, and has the right equipment. It is dangerous work for the inexperienced. Don't take it lightly.

Best of luck,

CraigFL 03-15-2006 06:42 AM

I agree with Michael and also say that you should make sure your Home Inspector is NOT associated with a real estate office either. There are some inspectors that know that if they file a detailed defect report they might affect the sale of a property, so they tend to be very conservative so as not to kill the deal and make the agent angry. You want to find a good, independant one.

Matthew 03-15-2006 11:02 AM

Everybody thanks alot for you help and I will keep you posted if the sale goes through.

mikesewell 03-15-2006 01:16 PM

Best of luck.

Please bear in mind that, unless you are doing the work yourself, bargain houses are seldom bargains. Why go through the whole process of fixing up a house, when in most cases, for the same total amount of money, you could have just purchased a house that doesn't need fixing? Please be careful, most of the time the only person involved in the deal that is looking out for your best interests, is you.

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