Sagging kitchen floor

mattr54February 21, 2008

I have an offer in on a 144 year old brick farm house. The kitchen (about 16x22) is a single story over a VERY tight crawlspace. The center of the floor is sagging about 4 inches lower than the edges. The floor is covered in slate/ceramic tiles. Surprisingly, the floor feels very solid under foot. I'm guessing this is because the joists are sitting on the ground. (not sure, though) Getting under this floor is not really an option. Would I likely be looking at a complete tearout and rebuild? I would really like more access under the floor, so while the floor was removed, I would be able to dig out the crawlspace for future access. Any ideas or recommendations? Thanks!

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Here's a link to some pictures of the house:

    Bookmark   February 21, 2008 at 9:32PM
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With something that old (even if the slates are new, and possibly helping the floor to sag, I'd definitely want professional advice on this - I think you shouldn't be guessing at anything structural and that old.

    Bookmark   February 21, 2008 at 10:20PM
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the link doesn't work for the pics. I sure would get a pro to give an opinion. If you do have to have the tile taken up and you can save the wooden floor while the crawlspace is dug out and then replace the wood floor that would be the best. Good luck. And if you use the "optional link url" below the "post a follow up" it makes it easier to link to pics. C.

    Bookmark   February 22, 2008 at 1:23AM
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Thanks for the thoughts so far! The link needs to be copied an pasted to your browser.

    Bookmark   February 22, 2008 at 8:02AM
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That was easy!

Here is a link that might be useful: Virtual Tour of House

    Bookmark   February 22, 2008 at 8:05AM
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I love your place! That is so beautiful!

We also had a sagging floor and basically no crawl space. The floor was pretty decent except in a few spots, and it dropped quite a bit in one corner.

We really didn't know what to expect, and were pleasantly surprised to find the sill and wood was in very good shape (our is only 125 years old). The unlevelness was either due to the rocks settling, or it may have been that way from day one. I'm not sure how someone goes about making sure rocks are set level (especially considering where and when the house was built - SD in 1875).

This picture shows the corner that was sagging so much. We opened up the wall between the two rooms, and since the den had been added much later, the floor in that room was not sagging in this corner.

The saggy part was were they were missing support rocks in the middle. Who knows why two joists did not have rocks under them - maybe they could not find enough rocks LOL!!

It's all very well supported now. The new joists are how we got the floor back to level.

This room was the dining room, we converted it to a kitchen. Our house started out as a one room claim shack, so it would not have had a "kitchen" to begin with - just a wood stove also used for heating the place.


    Bookmark   February 22, 2008 at 8:52AM
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Wow what a fantastic VA country ? Anyway with the beautiful care that appears to have been taken in all other aspects of the renovation I would think that it is probably not a huge problem. I would still have it looked at but given the rest of the property I would buy and fix it. Good luck. c

    Bookmark   February 22, 2008 at 3:29PM
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Not VA, actually central Indiana. We're crossing our fingers hoping our offer is accepted! We're looking forward to lots of rewarding work!

    Bookmark   February 22, 2008 at 6:05PM
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I can sense your excitement by the numerous posts, and bravo for you for wanting to learn as much as you can before you take on that magnificent home. I wish you luck in getting it, and also in the journey you are about to take if you do.

First off, don't expect anything to be built in quite the same way as a modern home is. Some of the construction methods are so old, they're practically lost arts. Secondly, having owned old town houses, and old farm houses both, I can also tell you a farmer in that era was often who did the repairs and upkeep on their own homes. The land usually came first and the house somewhere down the line. Form always followed function and sometimes the repairs are crude compared to a merchant or other city dwellers. But, OTOH, farmers were also very innovative. I have spring water piped right into my house. I don't even need electricity to fill my holding tanks, the water has head pressure from the altitude drop from the spring head.

It's a wonderful adventure owning a piece of history. Wouldn't trade it for the fanciest McMansion around. As for the sagging kitchen floor? When you get your crawlspace inspection, you'll likely know the reason.

    Bookmark   February 23, 2008 at 12:05AM
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You nailed it! Yes, we're very excited! We've had many discussions regarding the trade-offs involved with living in such a home. Without a doubt, being surrounded by so much history (both inside and out w/the property) out-weights any creature comforts a modern home could offer. Our house would be like no other! I prefer to always be busy with a project; this home will provide that and then some!

    Bookmark   February 23, 2008 at 6:42AM
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You are very lucky mattr54. I was surprised at the Indiana address!! I was born and lived til I was 12 in Central Ohio, near Findlay. I have gotten back to Indiana area to run at the Howl at the Moon 8 hour endurance race several times. Love the area. Please keep us in the loop as to your offer and the kitchen floor. A great house. Good Luck Caroline

    Bookmark   February 24, 2008 at 6:15PM
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As mentioned in another thread, I spent the better part of the morning further exploring this house. I was able to force myself exactly one body length into the crawlspace under the kitchen. The sag is related to a previous demolition of a chimney/fireplace gone bad. Several joists were formerly resting on the foundation of the fireplace. When the fireplace and chimney were carelessly removed, the joist ends were propped on various pieces of junk found around the home. Not sure about the fix at this point, but that's without a question the problem!

    Bookmark   March 1, 2008 at 3:36PM
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I'm pretty sure it'll be a work around type of thing, but I suspect you'll be able to fix it without too much expense or travail.

We're dealing with similar stuff, but we can tear our floor up.

As soon as it's all dry back there (roof issue) we will be fixing some carelessly done "repairs" ourself.

Good luck.

Here is a link that might be useful: RehabOrDie

    Bookmark   March 16, 2008 at 9:23AM
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it's beautiful!! we have an 1874 clapboard Italiante 10 minutes from downtown nashville, Tn. I will keep my fingers crossed for you!

    Bookmark   March 18, 2008 at 10:32PM
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matt - Well I fell in love just viewing the pics - lovely old home

We have a small cottage on the coast of Maine which had saggy floors - after a number of contractors w/differing opinions as to how to address - vary from razing the home to build a proper foundation - to getting in heavy equip to dig out all around the cottage - I found a GC who actually cut through floors in 3 location, excavated dirt by shovel through the house (yep! dh was not around for that one!) - then used hydraulic jacks to jack up joists where necessary - all the while checking inside - door swings, level- cracking - shimmed up the joists w/cinder block - and repaired the floors -

this was the best $1700 we spent on the cottage - fine job and far better than the other options for fixing our sags -

A structural engineer may be warranted in your case - I would want to be sure that it is only the kit that is affected and what best way to approach the fix

Good luck

    Bookmark   March 23, 2008 at 10:21AM
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What an interesting house! And beautiful property, too. Do you have horses? If not, I see them in your future. :-)

    Bookmark   March 23, 2008 at 4:48PM
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