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  1. #1
    Chris Mason's Avatar
    Chris Mason Guest

    Default Help with possible sill plate problem

    Hello - The house I'm considering purchasing has a 12" block foundation up to the grade level and then has 8" blocks above grade with a 4" brick veneer around the foundation. On one of the short sides of the basement (not the front or back load bearing walls) the sill plate appears twisted near the front corner of the house as if it has excess weight on the outer edge. The home inspector noted this as an issue and recommended we bring in a structural engineer to review. We brought in an engineer and he indicates the wall has moved in a little and that the sill plate is at least partially on top of 4" brick veneer. He indicates the appropriate fix is to excavate the wall to the footers, jack the house a tiny bit so the wall can be put back as close to possible as true and run bolts through the foundation block into the veneer to hold the wall in place. The owners had the wall partially excavated to the footer about 14 months ago to fix a crack in the wall and to regrade the soil on that side of the house, but nothing was done to the wall other than pointing up the crack. The owners talked with the company that did this work last year and they indicate there is no problem with the sill plate and that it is okay for it to rest on the outside 4" layer of bricks. The do agree the wall has moved in a bit and estimate it to be about 0.5" off plum. The searching I've done on the internet seems to indicate that these bricks should never be load bearing, but I'm not sure I've found this precise situation and if these bricks rest on the outer 4" ledge of the 12" cinderblocks below, it's not obvious to me that the bricks couldn't bear weight. The company that did the excavation work last year is proposing to place 4 steel bands (4" wide) against the wall on the inside (anchored to the floor and ceiling of the basement) to stop further inward movement of the wall. In general the basement walls seems to be in good condition. I'm very interested in opinions on whether this is a condition that must be fixed as our engineer indicates by doing a full excavation and pushing the wall into place, or whether the 4 steel bands on the inside is a reasonable solution. The house is 30 years old and there are no indications of other foundation problems. Thank you very much.

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  2. #2
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    Default Re: Help with possible sill plate problem

    Quote Originally Posted by Chris Mason View Post
    We brought in an engineer and he indicates the wall has moved in a little and that the sill plate is at least partially on top of 4" brick veneer. He indicates the appropriate fix is to excavate the wall to the footers, jack the house a tiny bit so the wall can be put back as close to possible as true and run bolts through the foundation block into the veneer to hold the wall in place.
    He is the design professional you brought in, follow his advice - make sure the design is signed and sealed, the work is permitted and inspected.

    The searching I've done on the internet seems to indicate that these bricks should never be load bearing,
    Veneer, by its nature and definition, is not load bearing. You are correct in what you have found.

    I'm very interested in opinions on whether this is a condition that must be fixed as our engineer indicates by doing a full excavation and pushing the wall into place,
    Follow your engineers advice.

    Also, the veneer which is below grade should be grouted solid, and, if it is, that should add some strength to the wall regarding vertical loading, depending on the grout used.

    Jerry Peck, Construction / Litigation Consultant
    Construction Litigation Consultants, LLC ( www.ConstructionLitigationConsultants.com )
    www.AskCodeMan.com

  3. #3
    James Duffin's Avatar
    James Duffin Guest

    Default Re: Help with possible sill plate problem

    Most large foundation repair companies offer a lifetime, transferable warranty. I would ask your seller for that warranty and call the company that did the work to come back and fix it.

    If is was done by a local with no warranty I would follow the SE recommendations. A problem with the foundation will affect your resale value so you need to get your fix upfront or a discount on the price so you can pass the discount on to the next buyer who will find they have the same problem when the house is inspected.


  4. #4
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    Default Re: Help with possible sill plate problem

    I agree with Jerry P and what he has said. Go with the recommendations from the engineer that you hired.

    Scott Patterson, ACI
    Spring Hill, TN
    www.traceinspections.com

  5. #5
    Chris Mason's Avatar
    Chris Mason Guest

    Default Re: Help with possible sill plate problem

    Thanks to all of you for your quick replies. They are much appreciated.

    Chris


  6. #6
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    Default Re: Help with possible sill plate problem

    Here's a question.

    If the outside of the sill is being supported by the brick, what's happening with the studs? The studs 'should be' at the outside edge of the sill and the sheathing nailed to the studs and the sill.

    Somehow, I can't picture the circumstances.

    Darren www.aboutthehouseinspections.com
    'Whizzing & pasting & pooting through the day (Ronnie helping Kenny helping burn his poots away!) (FZ)

  7. #7
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    Default Re: Help with possible sill plate problem

    - Follow the SE's recommendations as long as he's willing to put it all in writing.
    - Require warranty info
    - You didn't mention anything about 'why the wall moved'. It didn't do so because it was bored. Are there drainage, soil issues? Was there no rebar installed during the pour to tie the corners together? Was a proper foot installed? If you fix the current condition without such answers, what is keep the condition from happening again?

    www.aic-chicago.com
    773/844-4AIC
    "The Code is not a ceiling to reach but a floor to work up from"

  8. #8
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    Default Re: Help with possible sill plate problem

    Quote Originally Posted by Chris Mason View Post
    The company that did the excavation work last year is proposing to place 4 steel bands (4" wide) against the wall on the inside (anchored to the floor and ceiling of the basement) to stop further inward movement of the wall.
    Chris,

    Think of those 4 steel bands like this:

    You have a stack of paper, say a full ream. You push gently on one end and the stack of paper moves toward the other end, if you are pushing on the center of the ream of paper at one end, the center will bulge out at the other end.

    Now, wrap 4 large rubber bands around the stack of paper.

    Now repeat pushing on one end as you did before, those rubber bands are resisting your force, you will need to push slightly harder, and, when you remove your pressure, those rubber bands tend to try to pull the stack of paper back into alignment.

    It does nothing to address the pressure being applied.

    The foundation company which did the repair is simply putting "4 rubber bands" on the stack (the foundation wall) trying to hold it in place, and push it back in place when the pressure subsides (hydrostatic pressure from water in the soil).

    The structural engineer you hired is saying 'Hey, let's keep the pressure from pushing on the stack. While we are at it, lets bring the wall back plumb.' (something to that affect).

    Jerry Peck, Construction / Litigation Consultant
    Construction Litigation Consultants, LLC ( www.ConstructionLitigationConsultants.com )
    www.AskCodeMan.com

  9. #9
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    Default Re: Help with possible sill plate problem

    Chris how about snapping a few pictures and post them here for us to see. You also said the block changed from 12 to 8 inches with brick around the foundation. If that is true the brick is usually tied into and buttered to the block wall. I came across this in a home a couple of years ago and posted it on this site. I found out later it is allowed to sit on the brick as long as it is tied into the block. I never liked that setup but they allow it.
    You also said it only moved a 1/2". Then 3" is still bearing on the block correct? That in it self may not be an issue but the movement would be in my opinion.
    Also if the walls are sitting on the block (inside) and the brick is the outside, what covers the top of the brick foundation wall? Is it a soldier course?
    Just curious about the foundation construction. We already know something needs to be corrected with the wall.

    Thanks

    Mike Schulz License 393
    Affordable Home Inspections
    www.houseinspections.com

  10. #10
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    Default Re: Help with possible sill plate problem

    I understand the steel bands (or beams?) game plan and it can work great with poured concrete. But with block? I would have strong doubts. Since block does not have the continuous structural integrity of concrete there would really be no added resistance against the soil pressure on the blocks that are NOT against the beam/bands. Even not knowing any more than presented here I'd nix the band idea.

    Eric Barker, ACI
    Lake Barrington, IL

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