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    Paul Bartholomew's Avatar
    Paul Bartholomew Guest

    Default Basement Issues - Structural

    Hey All,

    I have a question that may be a good learning experience for all. First, I was doing an inspection in Westmont on a duplex (Row home type built in 1908).

    See attached photos - Here is the situation: The flat roof was in good shape and drained perfectly - all good. The second floor slope in towards the stairwell located along the party wall as follows: from the front and rear bedrooms the floor slopes about ½ inch every four feet towards the stairwell. The lateral slope from the side bedroom is One Inch/four feet. Pretty drastic, but it is amazing how subtle it seems until you actually measure it.

    The second floor has the same slope issues and you can see that the stairs leading into the basement have a slope away from the party wall towards the open basement.

    There has been a very temporary fix with a couple of lolly columns and a 4x4 that seems to have arrested the situation (judging by the paint at the top of walls) and the floors seem solid above (no bounce or even loose hardwood flooring).

    More evidence: If you look at the pictures of the walls of the basement it looks like the basement was lowered to the bottom of the foundation (without any added lateral support) and a floor poured. In the corner, a sump pump was recently added and in doing so a corner or the basement is open to the dirt below the pour. I was able to take a four foot probe (see picture) and drive it right under the foundation walls at several points. (There is also evidence of erosion under this corner caused by poor drainage, but that is another issue).

    What I think happened is that the basement was lowered a long long time ago (judging by the poured floor). When this happened they opened up the floor to put in the basement steps and did not adequately support the trimmers around the stairwell.

    Lastly – you would think you would see settlement cracks somewhere – there are none inside or out. The basement walls look plumb (though there is a LOT of junk in this basement.

    What are your thoughts? Did they lower basements in the past without any added lateral support? What would you recommend for the stairwell issue: a licensed contractor or a structural engineer?

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