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Question DetailsAsked on 2/4/2014

Structural Engineering Question: What is appropriate remedy/cost to repair joist seam split in prefab home?

I have a 12 yr old, 1,500 sq ft home built in two sections offsite, then joined onsite. We noticed separation between hardwood floor strips and matching crack in ceiling, which has widened over time. Floor split is now about 4-5 mm and ceiling is a bit over hairline (enough to see sheetrock joint tape). Now seeing beginings of parallel hardwood splits. Inspection under house found that the bind between the joists at the seam of the two prefab'd pieces is coming apart. Settling probably cause of contributing to it. Likely construction insufficient. What do I do and expected cost? I had a firm inspect and quote lifting one side of house, pour new concrete footing, add steel columns, and repair joists with add'l 2x8 beams. Price $3,250. Appropriate solution? Overkill? Price appropriate? I trust the firm has experience and appropriately skilled engineers, w/positive reviews on AngiesList.

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2 Answers


I am afraid your description did not quite paint the picture for me. If you could post a couple of pictures here (using the Answer This Question button to respond so it stays inthe same question "thread"), it would REALLY help. If not feasible to do that, describe the beams more - are you talking problems with beams the length of the house, full length floor joists across the short dimension of the house, or joists that run half way across the house and rest on or are suspeneded from the side of a long central beam ? And which are having problems - the floor joists or a large probably laminated beam running down the center of the house ? Also, dimensions of each type of beam and of house footprint, and what type of foundation house is on - concrete footers/foundation wall/strip footing, or individual posts on concrete pads or pyramid blocks,, or footers around outside plus intermediate posts.

Second, what exactly do you mean by "bind between the joists at the seam of the two prefab'd pieces is coming apart" ? Do you mean two separate laminated beams stacked vertically or side by side, or two end to end ? And what kind of "bind" (I presume you meant bond) - are they glued together, lap jointed, held by a metal bracket, or ? And is there an existing support post under the bond point, and what type, and what type of footing - buried in ground and can't tell, flat slab, truncated concrete pyramid with top bracket for post, or what.

Without more info, all I can say is the $ amount does not sound outrageous offhand, but if all that is needed is one supporting post and footer, could easily be high by a factor of two or three, or might be good, depending on situation.

If you talked with a contractor, odds are they do not have a licensed engineer on staff unless it is a large company, in which case they would not normally be interested in this size job.

You can go one more step with the contributors to this site if you want, depending on how urgent you feel this matter is - there are several with many years of residential construction experience that contribute regularly - or you could contact a Structural Engineer for probably about $500 plus or minus a couple hundred to assess the situation and prepare a remedial plan of action for contractors to bid on. Even after we respond it is likely, with the damage you have occurrring, that you should go that route anyway unless the contractor did have a licensed structural or civil engineer or structural architect look at it, which is highly unlikely unless you paid for that service already, in which case all we can help you with is more thoughts on whether the cost is reasonable.

Answered 5 years ago by LCD


Everyone reads a question differently. It seems to me that you have not had a Structural Engineer look at this yet but had a contractor look at it. What make me think you should have an engineer look at this is that it seems from what you have posted that the crack is wider at the floor than at the ceiling. This to me would imply that the center of the home is settling so jacking up one side would not help. I would check the foundation for cracks as this would be the best sign of movement, more so than the cracks you are describing. I do not know what area of the country you live in but with heating and cooling cycles a certain amount of shrinkage in a house is normal and the age of this house is about when many show up. A hairline crack in the ceiling of this size is somewhat normal and it would show up most likely in the center joint since from the modulars I have worked on the sheetrock on the boves is glued to the joists to minimze crackind while in transit to your site and this the weak spot. On the few I have worked on this spot quite often had wood jambs to hide the movement. The floor if it was installed at the factory would probably also be more prone to showing normal shrinkage in the same spot since it is basically the same as the edged of a room where wood srinkage is hidden by the base mouldings. I personally would recommend having an engineer who is not going to do the work look at it and pay a couple of hundred dollars to someone unbiased than going on a contractors. There are many honest contractors out there and from the price he quoted it seems fair if this is indeed the problem.

I am not quite sure though about the foundation type on this house and if it is up on steel columns it could still be settling of the center ones could be the cause and a lazer could show this.


Answered 5 years ago by ContractorDon

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