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Question DetailsAsked on 10/10/2017

what are my options if I'm not 100% satisfied

the wall had settled outward in the middle of the house about a full 2 inches. He told me the only way to get make the wall look straight was to reframe the wall with 2 x 4s so the corners and the wall were square. I asked him how much that was going to cost, but before he could answer, I told him I didn't want to know and started to walk away when he said that he was going to put up roof decking where the walls were uneven and it stated it might not be perfect, but it will look better than it was.

He was right, it does look better, but it's still not something that I'm 100% satisfied with, so there's my dilemma. As the owner and contractor, he should have surveyed the work to be done and discussed with me anything that might be out of the ordinary. The siding they removed had Styrofoam insulation over old shake siding. I know it's not necessary to remove the shake siding or insulation, but pieces of insulation were missing everywhere.

Is he obligated to do it to my satisfaction

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2 Answers

Voted Best Answer

Sorry about your situation and especially for what was supposed to be your hassle-free retirement home. Generally, getting into a 100 year old home is not recommended for retirees, both due to unexpected costs like this and higher maintenance needs in older homes.

As you say, sounds like a formal home inspector inspection during the inspection period might have saved you a passle of problems - but that is in the past. And don't hold your wife responsible - just look forward to all the juicy sauteed frog legs you will get out of the pond !

I would definitely (commonly $250-500 range, with your house age and situation I would expect the upper end) get a Structural Engineer to come do a structural inspection - might be an idea to have a home inspector come first to do a routine pre-purchase inspection to identify all the issues he can (both structural and non-structural and HVAC/electrical/plumbing), so you know the whole picture - much as it might hurt. Then Structural Engineer for the structural issues (the ones you know of plus any others the home inspector identifies) - he might also recommend a Geotechnical (Soils and Foundations Engineer) be brought in if he sees foundation issues that seriously worry him.

That should give you a list of the issues that need consideration - if fairly straight forward (usually are) maybe that much again or so for designs for the remediation by the engineers.

Specific issues - generally foundation damage repair would be done first, then structural issues, then flooring sagging and cracked beams and such, then finishes (drywall crack repairs and such) - with any utility work being done during the end of the structural/flooring repair stage but before drywall and repainting.

Foundation issues can be fixed in various ways, depending on the issue, type of foundation material, and seerity of the issue - you can find a lot of previous questions about foundation issues and repairs in the Home > Foundation Repair link under Browse Projects, at lower left.

Cracking floor joists may just need some intermediate support or sistering of joists or metal repair plates - but the structural inspection will address that, and the bowing wall.

Squeeky floors should have been repaired before the new flooring went down - but there are ways (especially if underside of floors are not finished) to repair from below - takes more effort but doable in almost all cases. Squeeky floors under carpeting can commonly be repaired from above by screwing through the carpet and padding (so the head disappears below the carpet) into the joists. OF course, for floor joist issues and squeeky floors would have been better to address those before putting in new flooring - but at this point you may need to address the repair desireability (and safety issues) versus how much it will affect the new flooring. Carpet of course can flex dramatically, and unglued sheet flooring and laminate can generally take a fair amount of movement - nailed down hardwood and glued-down sheet flooring less so, and of course tile/stone generally cannot tolerate change in the plane (like relevelling floors or taking out sags) at all, so you may have to accept some out-of-plane and unlevel flooring in the long run.

Water coming in the cellar - if only during rains, might be easy to solve by working on diverting the runoff away from the house and installing/fixing gutters and downspouts to get that mass of water away from the foundation. If due to high groundwater - permanent or seasonal or post-rain only - then as a retrofit the preferred method is excavating around the foundation, putting on waterproofing on the foundation wall (generally done preventatively regardless of wall leakage except in desert areas because it is cheap insurance while the foundation is exposed anyway), then putting in french drains around the outside of the foundation below the elevAtion of the interior slab (preferably below the bottom of it at least) - draining to free surface nearby. In low-lying areas sometimes a pumping system is needed if free surface drainage exit is not possible, but that makes the system awfully power-dependent.

For minor water issues in the basement, sometimes cutting around the perimeter of the interior slab and installing french drains there (do NOT let them connect through the foioter.wall to the outside), leading to a sump pump will handle it - especially if only during heavy rains or the rainy season, not due to high groundwater table. You can find a lot of previous questions with answers on basement water issues in the Home > Basement Waterproofing under Browse Porjects, at lower left - where there are also responses to questions with checklists of ways to address water infiltration issues.

After the inspections and remedial designs, sounds (unless you are a serious DIY'er) like you will be needing a Remodeling - General Contractor to handle the variety of issues and post-repair drywalling and painting and such. You may choose to attack this piecemeal or in big chunks, depending on what is needed and $ availability and such.

Answered 2 years ago by LCD


In reading this, the first thing that came to mind is, regarding fixing the bowing of the wall situation, whether you gave him authorization to fix it despite walking away before he could give you a cost - i.e. did you leave him with a "carte blanche" to fix it ? If so, get a written change order forthe additional cost to flatten out the wall before siding.

2" bowing in a wall is pretty severe - walls are suually planar within 1/2-1 inch. Did he give you any opinion on whether this is due to roof truss/rafter pressure pushing the top of the wall out (which could indicate a roof framing issue), bowed 2x4 framing in the wall (possibly due to excessive wetting during construction or wetness in the wall since then), bowed foundation as-formed, settling/cracking foundation, or what ? Coupld be you should be getting a Structural Engineer in to look at it before it is sided to see if some structural repair is needed first.

Otherwise, a minor bowing can either be sided as-is (leaving the bow in) but being sure the siding is placed level, or can be firred out to provide a planar surface to place the siding on - probably about $200-400 range for a normal-sized single long wall of a house. Of course, since it is the back, thje urgency of providing a pure planar surface may be less in your mind than if it was sides or front.

You say he was talking 2x4 reframing - if he meant totally reframing the actual wall, then that needs major work including allnew interior ddrywall and such so you are talking several to a number of thousands at least. Though I have seen houses with badly warped 2x4's reframed with new (straight) studs sistered up against the existing wall framing so they stick out to a planar surface equal to the greatest point of original stud stickout from the plane, and using that for the siding attachment. In your casse with 2" variance, might mean using even 2x6's to sister, making sure the outside faces are in a common plane by adjusting their location using a laser level in sweep mode.

Same thing can be done with firring strips on the face of the existing 2x4's but takes a lot of different thickness strips be ripped to give the proper shim thickness at each point. This is probably what they did over the shakes - but AWFUL hard to get a uniform product over angles shingles/shakes/lap siding - especially the shingles/shakes because that siding surface is highly irregular thickness and angle in the first plade because not all shingles and shakes are the same thickness or installed with exactly the same reveal. If only a few 2x4's are affected, I have seen contractors use a power door planer to trim them to correct surface location - but not on 2" stickout, which would mean removing half the 2x dimension on those studs, making for a weak wall. So - you need to talk with the contractor about HOW he intends to repair it, cost - and also whether the firring out means adding brickmold to windows and doors or removing and resetting them completely to avoid them being recessed into the wall. A lot of things come into play - and can get expensive in this sort of game - many contractors will not mess with it because the situation can tend to balloon and still not come out perfect, so many would just day "totally rebuild the wall" - at great cost.

I think, even with a 2" out-of-plane condition, if not a structural problem, because of the window/door mismatch issue (unless they already have brickmold or exterior trim which would look Ok if thickened up) most people would probably do one of two things, especially if an older house and not doing a general remodel anyway:

1) accept the bowing, assuming it is gradual and smooth, not variable (wavy) or sudden changes in stickout

2) perhaps remove the insulation, and reinstall (or use new), cutting grooves in the insulation at the studs as necessary (assuming thick board insulation, not the very thin fanfold stuff) so the surface of the insulation is acceptably planar - then put the siding over that. You said pieces of the insulation were missing - that has to contribute to the waviness.

3) depending on the cause of the waviness - remove the shake siding and going down to original studs - the problem may very well be putting siding over any pre-existing siding which is not planar - something I will not allow because the result just looks shoddy in many cases.

Bear in mind on this wavy wall issue, that (assuming it is still wavy/out of plane after the messed-up siding/insulation and any shakes are removed), that this is a pre-existing condition which might have gone unnoticed during the bidding process (especially with white siding which, as you say, tends to conceal flaws) which is basically not his fault - so would and should involve extra cost to you to remedy.

IF he bid the job assuming he would be going OVER the existing insulation and shakes, but he has to remove them to get a suitable job - then that should be at his cost PROVIDED the underlying wall surface is reasonably planar - i.e. that he can get a decent job with the original wall profile with perhaps a nominal amount of shimming here and there. Of course, that then brings up the question of the insulation replacement cost - the water barrier he has to do anyway as part of the new wall, but who pays for new insulation if he has to remove it to get a planar surface - that could be an argument, especially if you had agreed to a siding-over job up front, assuming the insulation and shakes were not coming off.

Of course, if he puyt new siding over shakes or insulation/shakes on the other walls of the house satisfactorily, then should be able to do it right on the back too - which might take you back to the back wall itself being too far out of plane so back to the numbered items above.

Good Luck

BTW - on the shakes - be careful about keeping them for firewood - do make a nice hot fire unless punky, but may have fire-retardent chemical or heavy base stain you do NOT want to burn and breathe the fumes from - safer to discard them.

Answered 2 years ago by LCD


After spending the last couple of nights researching everything I could about foundations, crawl spaces, sagging floor joists, main support beams, etc., I've come to the conclusion that my troubles have only begun.

One would think that a thorough home inspection prior to purchasing in October 2016 would have revealed the structural flaws that I'm finding and costing me dearly! Sadly, this is where we chose to retire.

Our first mistake after we closed was having new flooring installed throughout the entire house, except for the dining room, kitchen and bathrooms. My wife was handling the details with this purchase as I was still working and out of state. She was told the floors weren't level and the only flooring they could install that wouldn't show the "rise" in the subfloor would be Luxury Vinyl Plank Flooring. Needless to say, they were totally wrong. So that's the first $11K mistake we made.

I put a level in the hallway today and the bubble was off center and drifted to the west side of the house, which is where the bowing in the wall just happens to be. One can only guess as to whether or not the subflooring has ever been replaced, or are the original sub-floors. There are major squeaks in the hallway, master bedroom, dining room and guest bathroom, which I absolutely hate.

There's a cellar that leaks water when it rains. Water comes up through the concrete floor and along the foundation wall where the steps are locted to go down to the cellar. Had a plumber take a look and he said "all these old houses leak water up from the floor". Also had a foundation expert take a look and he was talking about taking out the entire cellar floor and installing drains around the perimeter so the water would drain away from the foundation, but he couldn't guarantee me that it would be waterproof once he was done. He told me "I'm 95% sure it won't leak, but I can't guarantee it". Keep in mind that I would also have to pay to have the the furnace, water heater, well pump and water softener disconnected and reconnected when he was finished. His cost is $4K, and I can't imagine what the disconnect and reconnect would be.

The house has had two additions since it was built in 1920, but I'm not sure when the first addition took place. I do know the previous owner I purchased the house from converted a carport into a family room and used the concrete slab as his floor and foundation and installed carpet, which is now LVP.

In closing, i have a feeling there are foundation issues, floor joists and/or main beam issues and others that will come to light once I figure out the right tradesman to do an assessment and tell me what my options are and the the cost associated with having them fixed.

The lesson I learned from all this is to make sure I do a thorough walk-thru of the property before making and offer. My wife fell in love with the pond and the way the property was laid out, so she made an offer without me seeing it first, but I gave her the green light to proceed since I knew she would get her wish whether I saw it or not.

I just wish I had waited and spent the $37K I've already spent on resolvng the major issues instead of cosmetic fixes that aren't going to provide me with peace of mind at the end of the day. I really don't know how these issues were overlooked by the home inspector and the VA appraiser, especially given the fact that the house is almost 100 years old.

We will have to face the fact that we are stuck here, whether I like it or not!

Thanks for letting me bend you ear!

Answered 2 years ago by LARGEBANKS

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