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Question DetailsAsked on 7/29/2014

How should I fix a small area of rotted sill plate and rim joist?

I recently bought an older home (1949) and the inspector missed an area of rotted sill plate and rim joist in the crawl space (areas were concealed by insulation). I believe the original moisture problem that led to the rot is not longer an issue--at some point the previous owners put on new vinyl siding and it seems tight and waterproof.

If I look from the crawl space side, I can see about 6 feet of sill plate that is rotted, and a small portion of the rim joist as well.

This is on the gable end of the house, so its not supporting a whole lot of weight other than that wall of the one-story ranch house. Inside the house, there are no sunken or squishy spot on the floor.

A friend who used to be a carpenter said I could just remove as much of the old sill plate as possible and then cut a new section and bang it in there. Total cost: about $30.

A local contractor looked at it and said it would be an $1800-3500 job to repair the sill plate and rim joist.

What would you do?

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1 Answer

Voted Best Answer

You said sill plate and rim joist - will address teh sill plate below first - rim joist after that.

Your carpenter friend is right in many cases - in others that will get you into trouble, because even the gable end wall carried some load.

I have done this a number of times - after being sure siding is not fastened into the sill plate (or removing those pieces first), takes a bit of supporting timbering under the top plate of the wall or the outside floor joist (if accessible) to support the endwall (I used angled 4x4's on 2 story houses, 2x4's on 1 story), then use a skilsaw with nail cutting blade or a sawzall to cut the nails into the bottom of the studs, cut any anchor bolts in that section, use skilsaw and prybar to slice up and remove the existing damaged plate section (usually piecemeal), hammer the new one in, toenail the studs back in place, and put in new tiedown anchor bolts to replace the cut ones.

If you are working on a load-bearing wall procedure is the same but you build a temporary wall section near the foundation (leaving enough room to get your replacement plate in) to support the floor joists while working.

The most important part is when you cut the nails in the bottom of the studs and the bolts wet them well so you do not start a fire with the hot metal (I cut a bit, soak with a fine-tipped squirt bottle, let sit to cool, then cut a bit more, etc working back and forth all along section being replaced several times till done.

Second key factor is when cutting the nails in the bottom of the studs, make sure it leaves an open gap that does not pinch your blade - if pinching the blade that means it is carrying load, so you have to prop up more.

Also, be sure you clean the gap out very well and be careful hammering the new plate in, both that you do not split it, and tat you do not drive it through and damage the siding.

When putting in the new plate, it is more professional to install shims under the studs to replace the 1/8" or so thickness you took away cutting the nails.

Total cost for a 6 foot length - I would say typically around $500-1200 depending on accessibility - obviously more if working from a low crawlspace than a wide open basement. This does NOT include repairing any basement ceiling (if being done from a basement) if that has to be removed or is damaged by the shoring.


On the rim joist - I am a bit confused there - on gable ends there commonly is not a rim joist as such - are you talking the outermost floor joist, which the edge of the plywood floor decking is nailed to, and supported on the cripple stud wall in the crawl space, or maybe directly on the sill plate ? If that is what you are talking about, then to replace that, IF fully supported on the wall or sill so not acting as a beam, part of same procedure as sill plate but you instead support the member on top of the joist if its load does not come down on the crawlspace cripple wall - which presumably would be the 3/4 sheathing forming the subfloor - with some 2x4 load spreaders as needed.

If the "rim joist" is a load-bearing beam acting as a beam rather than just an basically blocking between flooring deck and foundation, then splicing a beam is a bit more work - so that would likely add another $1000 or so, because it would mean supporting the beam, cutting out the bad section, putting in a replacement piece (a filler), then nailing and laminating or bolting either plywood or sister or splint beams on each side of it for probably a 20 foot or so length.

Also, replacing this might mean taking some siding off, so i that is the case you are working up into at least the lower end of the range the contractor was talking about - so I would say talk to him a bit more about what he perceives the job involving, how he intends to support the wall while working on it (some will just stab a forklift forks in under the flooring to hold it up, some will use jacks), and whether his $3500 number is a number he would expectfor this job, or if that was basically the contingency case if there is rot in the flooring sheathing or wall studs or such - which if the case, sounds quite reasonable to me.

And of course, getting a couple of more bids would give you a much better idea of the "fair market value" of the job.

Answered 6 years ago by LCD


Thanks for the awesome answer, LCD! If nothing else, it tells me that this is not a job I am ready to attempt on my own!

Answered 6 years ago by Guest_9420070

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