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papakevin 11-06-2011 06:09 PM

My next foundation project: Iron posts supporting cabin?
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Not that I have the time to start another project, but the wife found a little cabin (house) on some land for a fantastic price, so we had to buy it.

The property is on a small river, has a working well plus city water, upgraded power (200amp service w/the cabin) and a four year old septic system. In our mind, the land and everything it has on it minus the cabin was well worth the purchase price, and we are considering the cabin as a bonus.

The cabin is small (650 sq feet), was built in 1977, but has had the interior upgraded and the exterior covered with vinyl siding and metal skirting . So I was surprised when I removed the skirting access panel to see that the cabin itself is supported by small steel pillars. I don't know how to describe it exactly, so I'm attaching some photos.

As I mentioned, the cabin is located next to a small river, but by all reports the water has never risen up to the cabin (got within 150 feet, but not any closer). We take possession of it this Thursday, so I will be making a trip out there this Saturday to investigate further.

Any thoughts on this construction? Is it something I should be concerned about? My initial thought is that I need to reinforce the structure, by putting some concrete blocks in the corners and on either side of the middle support posts, then driving steel plates between the top of the blocks and the bottom of the foundation to add some support.

This type of steel post structure appears a little suspect right now only because I've never seen anything like this before. I appreciate any feedback / comments others may have.

joecaption 11-06-2011 06:39 PM

#1 That home in no way, no how could have been built that way any place I've ever lived. It should have been built on a solid bock foundation with footers.
#2 There's no ventalation under that house at all, what's happen is the whole thing is infected with fungus growing on the wood. That fungus eats the celullose holding the wood fibers together. Just try sticking a screw driver tip into the wood. If not now soon you will be able to jab it right through the floor joist. I've seen 7 year old houses with it that I could rip out whole sections with my bare hands.
#3 There's no vaper barrier under the house, about $50.00 in 6 mil. plastic could have prevented all that damage.
What I see that needs to be done is lift the house, have someone build a proper footer, build a block foundation with vents every 10' and an access door, add piers in the middle of the home to support the center beam, add a 6 mil. plastic vaper barrier and have the whole underneath treated for fungus by an exterminater.

papakevin 11-06-2011 06:59 PM

Thanks for the quick reply. Since winter is setting in, any suggestions on what I should do? Would it help to open up the foundation an let it air out or is it too late in the year. There is plumbing underneath so I would need to find a way to protect it.

Also, anything I can do to quickly treat the fungus and kill the growth / stop the damage?

joecaption 11-06-2011 07:24 PM

Call an exterminater to treat it, add the 6 mil. plastic on the ground held in place with 16" insualtion hangers bent in half and add automatic opening vents, There avalible in Lowes and HD. They open when it's warm and close when it's cold. they cost less then $20.00 each. If you do decide to lift and add a foundation they can be reused when they do it.

papakevin 11-06-2011 08:19 PM

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Thanks, Joe. I will have my wife call around tomorrow and will take the sawzall and some of the vents with me next weekend. I will also take some more photos underneath the cabin for additional help.

As I said, the interior is very sweet considering it is just an old cabin and want to do everything I can to save it. (A couple interior photos attached.)

BridgeMan 11-07-2011 02:04 AM

The crawlspace makes me think the thing is a prefab, built elsewhere and moved in on some very questionable support members. Get some insulation on the pipes before the cold sets in and does some damage you don't need.

As an aside, how is the place heated?

papakevin 11-07-2011 05:17 AM


Originally Posted by BridgeMan
The crawlspace makes me think the thing is a prefab, built elsewhere and moved in on some very questionable support members. Get some insulation on the pipes before the cold sets in and does some damage you don't need.

As an aside, how is the place heated?

It has an electric furnace and a central air unit outside. Duct work is in the ceiling (I think), but don't recall 100%. As I said, someone spent some money to upgrade the interior, but didn't bother to look at the foundation supporting the structure.

joecaption 11-07-2011 05:24 AM

I would be using a sharpee to mark out the hole location, (make a cardboard template) and drill a 1/2" in each corner then use a Jig Saw with a fine tooth blade not a sawsall for more control and less chance of damage to the metal.
I'd drill small holes in each corner of the new vents and hold the vent in with hex head gutter screws. Most are marked TOP at the top, upside down and they do not work.
This is the type vent I'm suggesting.
A fungus treatment is the simplest and cheapest treatment an exteminator does. It's boron (boric acid) and hot water.
Google Boric Acid, it's an amazing element, it will kill fungus, mold and a whole slew of differant type of insects, boring bees, powder post beetles, millipiedes, centipedes, silver fish, roaches. It's even used for fire proofing and treating rotted wood.

papakevin 11-07-2011 05:32 AM

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Thanks Joe, probably a better option.

BridgeMan, just checked the photos. Yes, duct work is in the ceiling. Photos of furnace and central air attached.

joecaption 11-07-2011 06:02 AM

I think I see something else amiss, the outside condensing unit is set to close to the house, it needed to be set outside the drip line of the roof so water does not drip off and make noise and also it will freeze inside the unit. Also it looks like it's sitting in a concrete pan of some kind. It needed to be sitting on a pad so water does not just lay there, rust out the feet and freeze and crush the bottom of the unit.

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