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leveling a pier and beam house

Posted by chris simmons on March 1st, 2003 06:06 PM
In reply to Levelling a pier and beam house by Erich Adler on January 27th, 2003 11:52 AM [Go to top of thread]

7 of 7 people found this post helpful

I have the same situation in Tulsa, OK. My house was built in the 20's and is in registered historic neighborhood. From what I have found out, you need several things to try and do it yourself. 1) 6 foot level, this is avail at home stores for about $40 and you need on this size to span the beams and get a good level. 2) two, 12 ton hydraulic jacks, you really only need one, but it is easier with two, these are also available at home stores and start out about $40 each and go higher for commercial duty. There are screw jacks, but they are much more dificult to do this with. 3) concrete block and concrete mix to set the block. 4) enough wood to span perpendicular to the current beams. I would recommend non treated as it tends to be stronger wood and will not be directly exposed to the elements since it it under the house. You should boards that are no less than 2 x 10 in any length you can use. Also, for strength, you will need to double these up by nailing or otherwise fastening two boards together to make it 4" thick. For long runs, join the boards in an alternating fashion. Stagger them so that two boards are joined together in the middle of another board for maximum strength. You will want to check for local codes to see if there are any requirements for how far apart the floor beams are required to be and whether or not you are required to obtain a permit to have this work done, by yourself or a professional. After deciding where the low spots are, start in the middle of the house and work your way towards the outer perimeters of the house. Set your concrete blocks at about 8 foot intervals along the line of your leveling beams. Build them as high as you can while still being able to work with the beams. You will make up the diference with shims once you begin to raise the house. After you get the borads hung along the lines and after you get the permanent concrete pads set, you will built temporary ones to support the jack. This will be somewhere between two permanent stands. Make sure this and the permanent ones are level, then place the jack on it and lift a section of the house. Measure to see if it is level, if it is, set shims into place on the permanet stands and slowly lower the house. Take down the jack and dismantle the blocks holding the jack and move on down the line until the entire house has been raised. Do not raise the house more than 2 inches at a time or sever damage to walls and framing can happen. The house settled over a period of years. It can rarely be undone in a period of hours. For severe problems you may have to raise it a couple inches and allow for the house to adjust a couple weeks before proceeding. Hopefully it is not this bad, as I would recommend professional work for this extent of settling. Even for slight adjustments, be prepared for walls to crack throughout the house. This is unavoidable. A few words of advice: 1) if you are uncomfortable doing this, have a pro do it for you. They cost more but their work is guaranteed and insured. 2) Do not skimp on lumber. 2x4's and 4x4's are strong pieces of lumber, but only being 4" thick they are nowhere near the necessary strnegth to support your house. Joining two 2x8's to create one 4x8" is many times stronger than 2x4's or 4x4's joined to create the same thing.

I have not found any books or literature regarding how to do this. this is basically what I have learned from others and taught myself from trying. If you find any info, I would appreciate it. What I have done in the past is to find a company that does this type of work and try to talk to some of it's workers and see if they do any work on the side. You can then hire them as a contractor for $10-15 per hour or whatever rate you can get and have them help you with the work. You will pay for 5 - 20 hours of labor but in return will get their trained help, knowledge and experience that will likely save you more than double that time in frustration if woring alone or with other inexperienced help.

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