View Full Version : Steel Posts used for perimiter support

Jack Koelling
03-08-2009, 10:30 AM
This is the crawlspace of a 35 year old all brick house. There are several things going on here. The entire perimeter had a concrete footing and the brick (extending below grade) and steel posts were sitting on this footing. Likewise the beam down the center was supported by steel posts on concrete footing. In other words, this entire house was sitting on steel posts. Also note the drywall (w/ no paper?) boxing/sheathing that appears to have dropped down arouind most of the perimeter. I am not sure what to make of this. Amazingly, there wasn't any signs of settling or structural problems on either the exterior or interior. I recommended a structural engineer evaluate.

Jerry Peck
03-08-2009, 12:27 PM
Looks like it was exterior gypsum sheathing and the paper as either all fallen of or been eaten off by termites, looks like some of the outside paper is still hanging in place, so I'm thinking it just fell off due to moisture and humidity levels.

Raymond Wand
03-08-2009, 01:55 PM
Hi Jack,

Why are you recommending an engineer to evaluate?

John Goad
03-08-2009, 02:49 PM
There are usually rusting issues with the steel posts in a crawlspace environment like that, did you do any probing at the base of the posts?

Jack Koelling
03-08-2009, 03:52 PM
John - The posts were very rusty, I only probed a few of them...wished I had probed more.

Paul - See John's concern about failing steel posts...Yes the house hasn't had any trouble in the 1st 30 years, but in my estimation it very well could in the next 30 years. Plus, it could be a bear for my clint to sell on down the road. I recommended the structural engineer to cover that base.

All - has anyone seen this type of construction before?...I haven't.

The "rest of the story", my client withdrew their contract...frankly I'm glad!

Brandon Whitmore
03-08-2009, 05:22 PM
If the home's structure is resting on the beams and not on the concrete/ brick, then it would be a post/ pier structure with a concrete/ brick skirting (like a manufactured home kinda). I've never seen steel posts as they are always wood in this area.

Denny L West
03-09-2009, 04:31 AM
Appears to me that this is fairly new subflooring and replaced Floor joist as well . Usually in these types of homes with brick foundations you can find several differant types of peer supports from large hand hewuned logs to rough cut logs, treated railroad ties you name it . Last one I inspected had only a treated 4x4 on brick flooring with only a small concrete pad at the base . As long as the steel post are supported by a good footer or base and dose not come in contact with the soil ( and as long as it dosent flood in the crawlspace) i see no problem with it . as far as the wall board was probubly installed as a type of insulation . not my choice for insulation. Top To Bottom Inspection Services

Jerry Peck
03-09-2009, 07:10 AM
What I don't like about it is that there is limited resistance to lateral loads pushing or twisting the structure above those steel posts.

I know this is an exaggeration, but think of it as a house built on tall pilings as they do in many areas along the coast, if there is not enough embedment of the pilings into the earth, the pilings can move and the house comes down, those have no embedment, just their welds to the plates and the strength of the plates to keep the posts "vertical".

Ever stacked dominoes up, two standing vertical with one laid horizontally on top? Quite easy to push them over.

Denny L West
03-09-2009, 07:54 AM
Yes Get your Point How ever the differance here is that this home has a foundation around it and is not on a peer . so you have a structure that is more stable and not so much movement . Depends also on how many supprts there are and the spacing between them . Have a great day.:)

Jerry Peck
03-09-2009, 08:03 AM
Yes Get your Point How ever the differance here is that this home has a foundation around it and is not on a peer . so you have a structure that is more stable and not so much movement .

From what I see in those photos, the foundation is below grade, those steel posts are piers bolted to the top of the foundation, unlike a foundation wall running around the perimeter of the house, that only has brick veneer around the perimeter of the house, with disintegrated gypsum sheathing falling off the back side of the brick veneer, the house is setting on those "dominoes" (steel piers), with only the welds of the steel pipe to the plates holding everything in alignment. Unlike a foundation wall which runs around the perimeter of the house and holds it all in place quite well.

Right now, the brick veneer is serving to hold the structure in place in addition to those steel piers. Brick veneer *is not designed nor intended* for that purpose or those loads. :eek:

Denny L West
03-09-2009, 09:18 AM
Boy lets all get confused here . By the looks of it and from my experiance it looks as though the foundation is done in several layers of brick. For Brick foundations they usually are three t four layers wide since this home is only 30 something years old it probubly has a better footer than the older early 1900s just looking at the photo you cant tell if its vener . vener is usualy out side cover and not an inner cover . again depending on codes and the area . Lacks a vapor barrier Too .

Jerry Peck
03-09-2009, 10:21 AM
Boy lets all get confused here . By the looks of it and from my experiance it looks as though the foundation is done in several layers of brick.

Jack will need to verify if the brick is veneer or not. I'm relying on Jack's title to his post "Steel posts used for perimeter support."

vener is usualy out side cover and not an inner cover.

And brick veneer is visible on the inside in the crawlspace, just like a brick foundation wall would be. However, if the brick was a foundation wall and supported the house, you would not need that girder on steel piers right next to it.

Again, though, Jack will need to be the one to verify if it is brick veneer or not.

Denny L West
03-09-2009, 10:53 AM
You know the more you look at it . its hard to determine exactly how it was built . appears that it could be repairs or built after the original or the foundation put around it after the floor was built . The concern here is is it doing what its designed to do support the home .? is there movement or signs of settlement how long has it been this way . we can set here all day long and guess and have our differances . the main point would be is it working like it should . Have a great day .:confused:

Jerry Peck
03-09-2009, 11:15 AM
the main point would be is it working like it should .

Whether or not is is working like it should is a secondary point, whether or not it is constructed as it should is the main point.

A correct "whatever" could be installed and used for an incorrect use, and whether or not it was working like it should is less important than should it even be there in the first place/how it should be there in the first place.

Denny L West
03-09-2009, 11:58 AM
Boy are we a little touchy . Depending on the code and area this may be accepted . I wouldnt build it that way , and beside this could have been built by the home onwer with no permitt or code inspection . What I see in those pics can be deciving to us but the real answer lies with the Inspector that inspected it . I probubly would have told the client my concern and my feelings on this as well as tell the client to have the foundation and supports checked with the code and have a stureal engineer inspect it. After we inspect it sup to the client to purchase and or have repairs made . My Input to this would be look at the whole picture . has the home settled is there structureal cracks / and was the floor replaced and what we see is a new end joist nailed to the original or a complete add on and the support weather they are right type was put in to help support or is this just a complete mess . . we will never know unless we Or Me inspect this for our selves and take a deeper look . Didnt mean to pee you off just putting in my 2 cents . Have a great day and just forget abiout it .:)

Jerry Peck
03-09-2009, 12:32 PM
Not touchy at all, just making sure we all have our concepts and wording right so everyone knows what we are saying.

It does no good to discuss something only to find out that, yes, you are holding a big long skinny tail and I am holding a big thick trunk, only to find they are both parts of the same animal.

Denny L West
03-09-2009, 12:37 PM
man Im always getting the tale .:D

Denny L West
03-09-2009, 12:40 PM
I do know this . I have seen alot of differant type sof supports being used and alot of how does that work . I know that we can agree on right / well got to go business calls coming in have a great day.

Jack Koelling
03-09-2009, 01:14 PM
Thank you all for the lively debate! 1st things 1st - the brick wall is veneer and has no structural purpose. I guested as you all did that the dry wall sheathing has fallen out of place, but that is still a guess. It was pretty damp in the crawlspace and I'm sure the fact that the only barrier below ground was the brick veneer contributed to that. The steel posts were quite rusted, but seem to be stable at this point (as was the rest of the house). Even if you could get comfortable with the foundation, you still have failed sheathing that (I'm assuming) is all that is between the brick and interior frame walls and insulation. This would be pretty tough to determine and fix!

I called for a structural engineer, because I hadn't ever seen constrction like this. I've only been inspecting not quite 3 years (1,300 inspections) so wanted to make sure before my client bought the place then had trouble selling it 10 yrs from now. As I mentioned before, they backed out and both the realtor and I felt like that was wise.

Mike Schulz
03-17-2009, 04:04 PM
WOW, only inspecting for less then 3 years and have done 433 or so per year.
Slammed every day from the get go that's impressive.

Denny L West
03-17-2009, 04:44 PM
He must be a three man show kinda hard for one man to do so many inspections . I believe thats alittle over the top . in the slow market as it is somebody's dreaming . have a great day:)