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Sheryl 10-08-2007 12:19 PM

Need input on Jacking up house

I am new to this forum. I am looking for any kind of input...good or bad:)
we own a small cottage in Cape Cod Mass and it needs some help!! The foundation needs to be jacked up and leveled. I know we need new floors and all. How intense is this. Someone we know has the jacks to do this. My questions are. Can this be done piece by piece or is it something that has to be done all at once? Can we do like the front corner of the house in the spring and then maybe another corner later in the summer? This house is not built on a foundation so there is just dirt under it. Is this a huge project? And approx how much $$ do you think it will cost if we do the work ourselves? The house is small. maybe 25' by 15' and I think it might be smaller then that. Besides cement blocks, plywood and 8' boards, what else would we need? Thanks for any input....Sheryl

glennjanie 10-08-2007 03:54 PM

Welcome Sheryl:
No larger than the house is I would want to do it all at once. Trying to do it peicemiel would cause cracks in the walls, ceilings and roof each time you make a run at it.
I would want some timbers under there to jack against to distribute the weight; 4 X 6 or larger.
Yes, replacing the floors and doing the jacking is a large project. Are the floors or the framing under them rotten? You should replace only 2 or 3 floor joists at a time because the house could slip off the jacks and, without the floor joists to hold it together at the bottom, it could just 'spradle' out. (A good southern word, picture a cow on ice with legs spread out and laying on its belly)
You can price the framing and subfloor at the big box store and 8" concrete blocks will cost about $5 each, furnished and laid. You may be required to put a concrete footer under the blocks too. That can be a major expense because of the hand digging and the depth you would be riquired to go.
Check the sills closely for termites or rot (the timbers around the peremiter of the house).
You have my blessings and sympathy on this one, Please be careful.

Sheryl 10-09-2007 06:58 AM

Hi Glenn,
Thanks for the reply. The only floor that I know is rotten for sure is the entrance way floor. It dips down when you step on it. :) That is in one of the corners of the house. I am sure the framing must be rotten also, because I don't think they had pressure treated timbers back when this place was built. I think it was built in the early 1900's. I was hoping you wouldn't say it should be done all at once!!! We are looking at alot of $$.

glennjanie 10-09-2007 10:07 AM

Hello Sheryl:
The only thing I meant to say that needed to be done at once is the raising and leveling.
After that, you could consider the foundation next spring and the floor repairs sometime after that.
I hope you can breathe easier now, sorry to be so pushy.

Sheryl 10-09-2007 10:52 AM


I don't think you were being pushy at all. :) I know this is going to be a big job, just wasn't sure how we should go about doing it. When you say foundation do you mean an actually cement poured foundation or do you mean just cement blocks? I know I sound dumb but we have never done this before. And again, I welcome the comments, you are not being pushy at all.

Oilcan 10-09-2007 01:00 PM

Just redid my foundation
I have a two story house built in 1907. Quotes to repair the foundation were in the 20k to 30k range 5 years ago and have since doubled. So, I decided to do it myself.

I worked on the project over 3 summers and here's my advice. You can easily work on the house over time but when you lift it, lift it all at one shot.
I didn't do that in the beginning and it caused me many headaches when it came to the leveling (releveling) part. not to mention cracks and stuff.

Once I made the committment to raise the whole house I started to make better decisions. I spent a whole month rerouting plumbing, gas and electricals to make clear paths for the beams. On a house that old it felt good to change out some of the ancient stuff underneath. I had two or three ghost sets of abandoned plumbing that I had to cut out.

My house was on jacks for about a year which is a little sketchy out here in earthquake territory but while I wasnt working on the house I had it blocked up as much as possible. Too much probably.

Here's the key point. I found a contractor that gave me specs on how to do the repairs to code. I also downloaded the generic foundation plan from the city. I did most of the work myself and then I hired the contractor at the tailend of the job to facilitate the inspection and the paper work. They came in and did the retrofitting part in basically one day. It would have taken me weeks.

And a little tip. Most of the lifting I could do with 5 ton screw jacks which are way easier to scooch around under the house. I bought a couple 32 ton jacks and ended up not using them that much. I had 10 screw jacks and would have used more if I could have afforded it. Also, before you start, cut a whole bunch of blocking out of 2x6's to put under the jacks. If you are using 4x4's for the posts it may be worth buying a cheap chop saw just for that. I just left mine under the house during the job.

Good luck


edit for this: For the beams underneath I used 4x8's just because it was easy to find the Simpson ties and brackets that were the right size.

inspectorD 10-09-2007 07:56 PM

Big job
All the advice here is great...but to see pictures and read a little first would help alot...this is a big job. Even for professionals.

Good ones go to the library first.:D

glennjanie 10-09-2007 08:28 PM

Hi Sheryl:
The footing should be concrete and the foundation can be concrete blocks. To bear the weight of a house 8 X 8 X 16 blocks are recommended. Be sure to use sufficient ventilators (check the local code).

rp14 10-10-2007 12:36 AM

I am getting ready to lift and level my house up in N. Idaho. I am looking for all kinds of ideas and tips to how to do this job. The house was built in 1925 and very little pier blocks. Basically the whole house is sitting on the ground. I may have to open up the floor to access adding beams, jacks, etc. I would also like to stiffen the 2x6 floor joists, can I get away with adding a 2x6 sister or does it need to be 2x8? The house is approx. 30x32 with attic rooms.
Any help and photos would be great.
Thank You,

glennjanie 10-10-2007 09:51 AM

Welcome Ron:
The floor joists sizing depends on the span. A 2 X 6 will span up to 8', a 2 X 8 will span up to 12', 2 X 10 up to 15'. Then, you may want to consider the floor trusses which the supplier will span for you.
A house that low on the ground is likely to have some termite or rot damage to the joists and sills. You can check them with an ice pick or awl.
I don't envy your job at all.

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