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jwest 02-05-2013 10:00 AM

Home needs leveled
I have a 116 yr old house that someone has tried to level before.
I'm trying to find a reputable contractor to do this and having some problems.
Have 2 quotes; $7440 and $6500. How do I find out who will do the best job and the $ amounts seem high to me.

Wuzzat? 02-05-2013 10:57 AM


Originally Posted by jwest (Post 83175)
$7440 and $6500.


Get more bids until they cluster at some average value. Two aren't enough, but three sometimes are.
For plumbing I had to call 17 just to get five bids.

I look for something like this


and I throw out the low and high bids. On this bottom dot plot I'd take the center bid unless the contractor says or does something wrong or fishy.

IIRC, $7000 in some parts of the US will cost you $12K in others, depending on the median income of your ZIPcode.

inspectorD 02-05-2013 12:50 PM

I don't care about graph charts and what the $$ is. These are close enough. YOU NEED TO CHECK REFERENCES...of past customers and look at the work.
Good luck.

Wuzzat? 02-05-2013 03:48 PM

Found my house leveling data

for houses between
700 and
2600 sq. ft.

Half cost between
$1.88 and
$4.50 per sq. ft.

almost all cost between
$1.71 and
$6.82 per sq. ft.

$3.26 =avg. price
$2.27 =median price

What is your square footage? I'll add it to the list.
Getting data from forums for a survey is like pulling teeth.

For checking past jobs, unhappy customers are at least as important to contact as are happy customers.

Welcome to the forum.

Humor me, InspectorD :D

nealtw 02-05-2013 05:15 PM

Some one has tryed to fix it before. The cost is the last problem to figure out. The footing were not big enogh when the house was built and they sank. A contractor or someone jacked it up and leveled it on the same footing. Unless you contractor is talking about soil conditions and footing size, you will be waisting your money.
"engineer should be considered"

bud16415 02-06-2013 06:41 AM

I’m new to the forum but my previous home was in the 120 year old category also and I did a top to bottom restoration and had many leveling issues to deal with. You haven’t mentioned how bad the problem is or if it has stabilized.

Back in 1897 there wasn’t any unified building code. They built with local materials and foundations (field stone) or others may have had no footings or basement floors for that matter. After 116 years of taking a set IMHO getting the house re-leveled is the least of the problems and maybe why you are seeing different prices. Moving an old structures will twist and strain everything all the way up causing more problems the contractor may be factoring in.

In my case there wasn’t enough money to get it perfect and part of the charm of a structure that old is its sways.

For what its worth in my case I did some subtle lifting here and there done over a period of time and observing the house while doing it knowing I wasn’t going to ever get perfect. The basement had a floor poured at some point with only a 6’2” head room and was one big area except for the center chimney. As I worked with adding some partitioning in the area of the center cross beams I lifted those mostly to remove cracks and such and added stud walls beneath where each stud was cut and fit to take some load. I didn’t open the floor and add footings. This method wasn’t perfect but was cost effective and added a lot of stability to the whole house.

The remodel above required a lot of scribing and trimming just part of an old home. I can say in my case after doing this I didn’t see more change over the next 30 years.

nealtw 02-06-2013 07:09 AM

Bud: You may get away with leveling a floor with a wall built in the basement, but lifting structure is not a good idea. You may have got lucky but you are putting a lot of faith in the strength and thickness of the concrete and the soil below it.

Speedbump 02-06-2013 08:04 AM

My only experience was with a little 800 sq ft house. It had a crawl space. I started jacking it up in the bad areas, shored it up with cement blocks and wood. Went up stairs to admire my work and found that none of the bedroom doors would close anymore. That and even though the door frame was more plumb than it used to be, the doors weren't.

bud16415 02-06-2013 08:13 AM


Originally Posted by nealtw (Post 83217)
Bud: You may get away with leveling a floor with a wall built in the basement, but lifting structure is not a good idea. You may have got lucky but you are putting a lot of faith in the strength and thickness of the concrete and the soil below it.

My thoughts were the settling had stabilized a good 50 years before I was born based on the cracking in the horse hair plaster and window and door framing shifting. The house was twisted and swayback here and there but wasn’t actively moving in very many years. Given a $100k I might have lifted the home and added a poured proper foundation and then another small fortune to correct the rest. But George Washington never slept there although he did sleep at an older place down the street. So given what I had I did what I could and felt safe with the house. I wasn’t intending the stud walls or the poured floor to carry the weight of the house. I did frame it 12’ OC with a double plate but the purpose was more to take the bounce out of the first floor and a little of the sag without shifting the whole structure upwards.

In my house the field stone foundation was about 4’ wide at the bottom and tapered up to about 3’ at the top. At that point framing switched to wood a 12x12 timber around and 12x12 cross in the middle. The middle cross was mortised for the 4x12 floor joists. All that cutting into those timbers made for places for splits to propagate. Some of the splinting I did closed those gaps and lifted the joists, and in the process helped some of the floors above.

The big question the OP has to answer is the house stable or is he seeing signs of the past repair and still seeing things are not plumb and square and thinking the first repair was not done properly. They may have went as far as they dare go and started hearing cannon fire above and stopped. There are many clues he could look for if the foundation is still failing and in that case I do agree just jacking it back up won’t solve his problem and could even make it worse. If I had to guess based on it standing 116 years I would guess foundation isn’t recently starting to sink, but that isn’t an option to rule out.

The idea of paying a structural Eng. to evaluate the problem is not a bad idea and have him recommend a procedure from there. In my town in the city there are 1000’s of century old houses and they all are suffering the same old age problems. I never hear of any falling in and quite often it’s the new construction that goes down under snow loads and storms. But again I wasn’t recommending any fix only telling what I did and how it worked out in my one case.

Austin 02-06-2013 08:31 AM

Did you stop at two quotes I would get more.

Do not tell them you are getting multiple quotes. I have found telling them that will change the price.

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