1780 colonial post and beam advice

noahark2July 24, 2008


I am looking for some advice on repairing a 1780 center chimney colonial. I have just had a cement foundation replace a collapsing stone foundation on one half the width of the house. It was previously a dirt crawl space. The other half half the house has an old stone foundation extending about 7 feet into the ground with an interior concrete about 2 feet high retaining wall(that almost looked like a footing but wasn't)and conrete floor. The house sills on that new half are resting on jacks and blocks until the whole house can be leveled. These sills are in good shape. We jacked and supported the house ourselves.

The house has post and beam construction. The problem is on the other half the house. We excavated for footing drains all the way around the permiter of the house. The stone foundation this side looks to be in very poor repair as well and we will need to replace the foundation as well due to severe water problems. This is where the major problems is. The sills appear to be rotted in large sections most notably in a corner where a post which helps supports the 2nd floor. How does one support the vertical post and replace the sill? The current sills appears to be about 8"by 8". I am on a limited budget for hiring contractors and have already had a structural engineer to look at it but thus far no plans and is charging a lot.

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noahark2, may I suggest that you post this situation into the general forums at oldhouseweb.com. Lots of the homeowners there have done foundation/support work and may have some experience in your area.

    Bookmark   July 24, 2008 at 8:19PM
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You strip off the siding, and bolt jacking plates to the post at the second floor line. The jacking posts go under these plates (think: upside-down ledger) at a slight angle. you want to have these posts heavy enough so they don't deflect or bow, but a-frames work, too. The jacking posts or aframes go in on both exterior sides of the post, so the thrust is applied in both directions, and the angle of the jacking bearing points on the ground should be far enough away to permit working space. If it would work better in your situation, you can attach them up at the second floor plate, but as the jacking posts get longer, they must get heavier to resist bowing, and over 16' you're looking at a rather unweildy timber to do the job.
For extending a corner post, you need some kind of shouldered slip joint, or steel plates and bolts.
Have fun and be cautious.

    Bookmark   July 24, 2008 at 10:55PM
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I'm not a contractor nor an engineer so I don't really know what I'm talking about, LOL. But what I would do is contact a supplier of recycled barn post and beam. There is a good one in PA I could direct you to. I asked a lot of questions and found out some info.

From what I understand most post and beams are tightly fitted with mortise and tenon and pegs. With the rot at the post you may have to cut part of the post along with the sill and then get someone who knows what they are doing to re-fit or explain exactly how to fit the post and sill back together.

This Old House had an episode where they jacked up a post and beam house, cut out the rot in the sill and lowered it back down. To jack up the house they had to build a false internal wall attached to the structure at the top (3rd floor?) and place the jacks in the basement below the false wall. If I remember correctly the reason they had to do that was because the floor joists where just sitting on the sills and a beam spanning the center. So jacking up the floor would just raise the floor rather than the structure. I'll see if I can find that episode. I remember thinking I wouldn't want to try that DIY.

    Bookmark   July 24, 2008 at 11:17PM
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