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No footings under the foundation walls


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This 1948 one story bungalow doesn't look like it's sunk an inch in 60 years. There are no large cracks in the foundation perimeter walls, poured concrete.

I was a bit surprised to see rotten wood or air where the footings should be.

Was this ever considered to be an OK way to build? Or is it an example of a builder cutting corners and getting away with it? My clients walked.

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My high school architecture text books were pretty much based upon drawings from that era - a time when architectural drawings offered more detail than they ever had before or ever will again (amazing schedules of every component of a home right down to the species of wood to be used, hardware, and sectional drawings details that even showed the grain of the wood - beautiful stuff). If memory serves, footings were the norm. Also, construction from that time period was about as good as it would ever be as well. Tradesmen went through genuine formal apprenticeships to actually earn their titles as mechanics (masonry), master carpenters and plumbers, etc. (How novel).

Your photos seem to be of someone that cut some corners. I don't believe that really reflects typical construction from that time period.

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Lots of Portland homes from the oughts & teens were built without spread footings. On many of them, the foundations remain solid. On others, the foundations have settled 7 ways from Sunday.

By 1948 I see spread footings on pretty much everything. Maybe it took a while for the word to spread north.

- Jim Katen, Oregon

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There's a ton of houses from the early 20th century here without spread footings; many of them with basements and we have no way to know that they don't have footings until/unless someone escavates around the foundation.

It shows no sign of settling or movement? Why not recommend underpinning the foundation as time permits? If nothing has happened to it in 60 years, it's not like it's going to settle tomorrow morning or anything.

ONE TEAM - ONE FIGHT !!!

Mike

ONE TEAM - ONE FIGHT!!!

Mike

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By 1948 I see spread footings on pretty much everything. Maybe it took a while for the word to spread north.

- Jim Katen, Oregon

No I think the standards were pretty similar up here. Good concrete work in general.

It shows no sign of settling or movement? Why not recommend underpinning the foundation as time permits? If nothing has happened to it in 60 years, it's not like it's going to settle tomorrow morning or anything.

ONE TEAM - ONE FIGHT!!!

Mike

I try not to discourage people if there's no sign of ill effects. The price was high for the trouble of upgrading, I suspect.

Your photos seem to be of someone that cut some corners. I don't believe that really reflects typical construction from that time period.

It looks like they smeared concrete over 2X4's to create the illusion of a wide footing. I wonder how many times they got away with it?
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Your photos seem to be of someone that cut some corners. I don't believe that really reflects typical construction from that time period.

It looks like they smeared concrete over 2X4's to create the illusion of a wide footing. I wonder how many times they got away with it?

I was really hoping the deception wasn't quite that blatant. Maybe the foundation was installed over some construction debris in a few spots. We can only speculate now, that it's come to light fifty-two years later.

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I've seen places that have foundations formed by the hole that was dug. Some have a slight flare, or bell, at the bottom, but some are just flat sided flat bottomed lumpy concrete.

Depending on the soil under them, they seem to work fine. Think how many houses just have rubble or stone piled up for a "footing"; I see a lot, and they also work fine.

Although, I tend to prefer a footing.

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My high school architecture text books were pretty much based upon drawings from that era - a time when architectural drawings offered more detail than they ever had before or ever will again (amazing schedules of every component of a home right down to the species of wood to be used, hardware, and sectional drawings details that even showed the grain of the wood - beautiful stuff). If memory serves, footings were the norm. Also, construction from that time period was about as good as it would ever be as well. Tradesmen went through genuine formal apprenticeships to actually earn their titles as mechanics (masonry), master carpenters and plumbers, etc. (How novel).

Your photos seem to be of someone that cut some corners. I don't believe that really reflects typical construction from that time period.

I disagree with your opinion on the architectural drawings from the past. Around here when I see a set of drawings and specifications from an old house and I am impressed that the houses got built with so little information. You used to be able to give a carpenter an elevation of a house and tell him to make it look like the drawings. There were often technical mistakes (we see the results of these mistake when we inspect the houses now) but the old houses looked like the drawings. A typical set of drawings included a simple wall section, one plan for each floor and an elevation of each facade. A builder and his craftsman could be proud of their work when completed.

Todaty we have to provide lots of technical details and inforation in order to get a building permit and hope that someone will actually look at them when the house is being built. The general lack of craftsmanship combined with the goal of building for the most profit has resulted in some bad homes. Many builders are just looking at the bottom line when they walk away from a completed home. They hire the cheapest sub contractors and the house suffers the results.

I have many fights with crappy contractors when I am hired to do construction administration. The most common reply is "I have been doing it this way for __ (fill in the blank) years!" I tell them that they have been doing it wrong for that many years.

On the other hand there are still a few old school good contractors that take pride in their work and are willing to make a little less money for a better result. I enjoy working with this type of contractor because they show me how I can improve my details and I am willing to learn from them.

IMHO

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My high school architecture text books were pretty much based upon drawings from that era - a time when architectural drawings offered more detail than they ever had before or ever will again (amazing schedules of every component of a home right down to the species of wood to be used, hardware, and sectional drawings details that even showed the grain of the wood - beautiful stuff). If memory serves, footings were the norm. Also, construction from that time period was about as good as it would ever be as well. Tradesmen went through genuine formal apprenticeships to actually earn their titles as mechanics (masonry), master carpenters and plumbers, etc. (How novel).

Your photos seem to be of someone that cut some corners. I don't believe that really reflects typical construction from that time period.

I disagree with your opinion on the architectural drawings from the past. Around here when I see a set of drawings and specifications from an old house and I am impressed that the houses got built with so little information. You used to be able to give a carpenter an elevation of a house and tell him to make it look like the drawings. There were often technical mistakes (we see the results of these mistake when we inspect the houses now) but the old houses looked like the drawings. A typical set of drawings included a simple wall section, one plan for each floor and an elevation of each facade. A builder and his craftsman could be proud of their work when completed.

Todaty we have to provide lots of technical details and inforation in order to get a building permit and hope that someone will actually look at them when the house is being built. The general lack of craftsmanship combined with the goal of building for the most profit has resulted in some bad homes. Many builders are just looking at the bottom line when they walk away from a completed home. They hire the cheapest sub contractors and the house suffers the results.

I have many fights with crappy contractors when I am hired to do construction administration. The most common reply is "I have been doing it this way for __ (fill in the blank) years!" I tell them that they have been doing it wrong for that many years.

On the other hand there are still a few old school good contractors that take pride in their work and are willing to make a little less money for a better result. I enjoy working with this type of contractor because they show me how I can improve my details and I am willing to learn from them.

IMHO

Opinions are bound to vary on a subject like this according to perspective.

Accuracy is a separate issue.

I know there were tons of times i was out in the field on both commercial and residential projects rather miffed that a proper detail was not in a set of drawings. In fact, on a number of occassions, I found myself submitting to the architect a missing detail for their approval so we could proceed.

Similarly, during my days as a structural detailer, one had to anticipate what installers will need to fully understand the task.

As I'm certain you will agree, a great set of drawings is far more about the renderer than any standard. If you can't visualize it, you can't build it.

I suppose your opinion and mine are the best argument for why Desig/Build Construction works so well when properly managed. It was wonderful having qualified input from master tradesmen, throughout the design and pricing phases.

Mike

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