My next foundation project: Iron posts supporting cabin?

Discussion in 'Framing and Foundation' started by papakevin, Nov 7, 2011.

  1. Nov 7, 2011 #1

    papakevin

    papakevin

    papakevin

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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.

    cabin 1.jpg

    cabin 2.jpg

    cabin 3.jpg

    cabin 4.jpg
     
  2. Nov 7, 2011 #2

    joecaption

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    #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.
     
  3. Nov 7, 2011 #3

    papakevin

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    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?
     
  4. Nov 7, 2011 #4

    joecaption

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    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.
     
  5. Nov 7, 2011 #5

    papakevin

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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.)

    inside 1.jpg

    inside 2.jpg
     
  6. Nov 7, 2011 #6

    BridgeMan

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    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?
     
  7. Nov 7, 2011 #7

    papakevin

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    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.
     
  8. Nov 7, 2011 #8

    joecaption

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    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.
    http://www.lowes.com/cd_Replace+a+Foundation+Vent_622263417_
    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.
     
    Last edited: Nov 7, 2011
  9. Nov 7, 2011 #9

    papakevin

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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.

    heating.jpg

    cooling.jpg
     
  10. Nov 7, 2011 #10

    joecaption

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    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.
     
  11. Nov 8, 2011 #11

    papakevin

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    Thanks Joe. The unit is sitting on hallow concrete blocks. Hopefully this weekend I'll be able to give the cabin a good once over and can follow-up Sunday night.
     
  12. Nov 9, 2011 #12

    papakevin

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    Has anyone heard anything about using WD-40 to kill fungas growing on wood? Does it work? Is it safe? Wondering if there's an initial treatment I can do myself to stop the damage. Thanks.
     
  13. Nov 9, 2011 #13

    joecaption

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    If you contact an exterminater the whole job can be done in about 2 hours, why would you want to spray WD that would smell, contaminate the soil, and make any future treatment imposible. Yes you can order 5 gal. buckets of boron on the net and use a pump sprayer to do it yourself But by the time you order it, pay the shipping, buy a pump sprayer, and have to do all that crawling to make sure every sq. inch gets covered it's not worth the few bucks you save.
     
  14. Nov 10, 2011 #14

    papakevin

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    Joe, you are correct sir. I just scheduled someone to do it. It's worth it to enjoy the weekend vs crawling under the cabin and dealing with the spray.

    Apparently the spray of choice for this application is Borate (guessing that is how it is spelled). According to the guy, it is environmental friendly, kills the fungus, penetrates the wood and helps prevent future insects (like carpenter ants and termites). I'm not familiar with Borate, but assume it's some type of Borax based product / solution.

    Will update on foundation pillar this weekend.
     
  15. Nov 10, 2011 #15

    joecaption

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    It's just another name for Boric Acid, or boron.
    Sometime your in Wal-Mart, HD or lowes look in the insecticide area at A bottle that says "Roach Away" it's 95 % boric acid.
     
  16. Nov 14, 2011 #16

    papakevin

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    Spent a little time at the property this past Saturday and got my son to take the attached photos under the property. From what I can see and have learned from talking to the previous owner, the house is sitting on the iron posts, in concrete sunk into the ground (although no one knows how deep). Guessing this was constructed this way due to the proximity of the river. There are 4 posts length wise and 3 posts deep. It was constructed as a cabin, so the quality is not up to home building specs, but the interior has been modified to be as nice as any home.

    The cabin has been on this foundation for 30+ years, but I'm concerned with the way it is build. My initial idea was to use concrete blocks and build up the blocks with a header board on either side of the exterior posts to add some stability to the structure in the event one of the posts would fail. Assuming I would need to dig down and pour a concrete base for the blocks, but wouldn't want to do so too close to the posts, fearing it may weaken them.

    Open to all ideas and suggestions. Not looking to spend a ton of money here, but do want to steady the cabin so it will last another 20+ years. Thanks.

    left far corner.jpg

    left near corner.jpg

    right far.jpg

    right near.jpg

    center support.jpg
     
  17. Nov 15, 2011 #17

    evstarr

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    Might be that I just need to get my glasses but it looks like those rim joists are just sitting on a little piece of the welded on plate atop those posts around the perimeter. If so, might be an option to sister additional treated rims to the existing to give it more support on new undamaged wood. Also might want to poke the posts all around the bottoms in particular to make sure that its just surface rust on them and that none of them have rotted through.

    P.S. Shouldn't the rest of the downspouts be on the outside too? < grins >
     
    Last edited: Nov 15, 2011
  18. Nov 15, 2011 #18

    joecaption

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    This is an idea of what the foundation should have looked like.
    Footings and Foundations | Raised Floor Living | Southern Pine Council™ | 1-504-443-4464
    The one thing I think I see that's scary is it looks to be just a single 2X rim joist holding up on the outsides, if so that's not even close to enough bearing surface and why in some places it looks like those post are crushing into the wood and the post is tipping. One strong wind storm or earth quake and this place is history.
    Those outside post are holding up the weight of the walls, and 1/2 the weight of the whole roof.
    Those steel post rusting off below grade is like a ticking time bomb.
    You or who ever fixes this is going to have to remove and relocate any wires or plumbing near those post so a proper footing for the new piers can be dug and another wider rim joist can be added.
     
  19. Nov 15, 2011 #19

    papakevin

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    Joe, I know I'm fighting an uphill battle with this project. I'm guessing it started out as a little weekend getaway back in the 70's, and as the people who owned it grew older, they upgraded the interior and exterior without considering how the cabin was originally built.

    Evstarr, I think that's an excellent idea. While it may not a long term solution, I can easily sister in some 2x8's on the interior of the cabin to hopefully gain from more support from the pillars (if needed), especially from those where it looks like the cabin has shifted and is only supported by one 2x8. If I can get this done before winter sets in, hopefully it will last until Spring, when I can really address the isssue. Might ease my mind a bit. Thanks for the suggestion again.
     
  20. Nov 15, 2011 #20

    joecaption

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    Your going to have to make some lifting beams out of double up 2 X 8's and something solid on the ground with some 20 ton hydrolic jacks with steel 1/2" plates where they meet the beam so the piston does not crush into the wood and lift the house enough to be able to get anything in there to double them up, now that the old rim joist is crushed. And the two rim joist will need to be trough bolted to hold them together.
     

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