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John Kogel

1949 foundation question

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Actually, my client is asking the question: "Is the foundation solid and able to support an additional 2nd storey?"

This will be my assignment for Monday. It is a 1949 basement home, and I expect it to be sitting on a proper footing. There will be post and beam supports in the basement with about 7 feet of headroom.

I know it is a job for an engineer, not me, to determine the suitability of the foundation for adding another storey.

I'm wondering if anyone here has worked on such a project, and what kinds of obstacles arose from it?

The masonry chimneys will need to be altered, but they've been lined and are being used for gas appliances anyway.

I think I'll suggest they jack the house up instead, and build a new better basement under it. That'll distract them while I make my getaway.

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I'd tell them the same thing that I tell every buyer who talks about adding a second story: If you want a two-story house, go buy a two-story house.

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I'd tell them the same thing that I tell every buyer who talks about adding a second story: If you want a two-story house, go buy a two-story house.

I don't think you'd really tell anyone that.

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I'd tell them the same thing that I tell every buyer who talks about adding a second story: If you want a two-story house, go buy a two-story house.

I don't think you'd really tell anyone that.

I tell people the same thing. Someone can typically buy a two-story house for less than a one-story plus an addition will cost.

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I'm not into the financial side of such endeavors but much of 1st story framing that meets today's code requirements remains adequate for one additional story if there's no basement stud walls. Ceiling joists need to be replaced or sistered with floor joists and beams may need enlarging but much framing can stay.

Marc

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I'd tell them the same thing that I tell every buyer who talks about adding a second story: If you want a two-story house, go buy a two-story house.

I don't think you'd really tell anyone that.

Sure I would.

It's a dumb idea: It's costly; it's inconvenient; and in the end it always looks like crap.

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In very general terms - I ran the math in another thread, regarding masonry foundations. The average 8" masonry foundation could easily support about fifty more homes stacked one upon another. Adding another story to a masonry foundation is like throwing another gnat on the pile.

When I was in the business of selling and designing additions and renovations, going up was usually the cheapest direction to go in - no excavation, footings or foundation work, and usually everything existing can easily support another story.

But, then I realize you are talking about post and beam. This is not a masonry foundation?

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In very general terms - I ran the math in another thread, regarding masonry foundations. The average 8" masonry foundation could easily support about fifty more homes stacked one upon another. Adding another story to a masonry foundation is like throwing another gnat on the pile.

But, then I realize you are talking about post and beam. This is not a masonry foundation?

The foundation usually isn't the problem, it's the size of the footing. Around here, anyway, footings from that period were on the small side and our soil isn't exactly bedrock. To add a story, you often have to start by underpinning the footings.

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In very general terms - I ran the math in a nother thread, regarding masonry foundations. The average 8" masonry foundation could easily support about fifty more homes stacked one upon another. Adding another story to a masonry foundation is like throwing another gnat on the pile.

But, then I realize you are talking about post and beam. This is not a masonry foundation?

Thanks Mike. No, it's not post and beam in the sense you are familiar with. It is a concrete foundation. There will usually be two or three beams supporting the main floor. 8X8 rough-cut posts nailed in under the beams. No fancy mortise and tenons, just nails and gravity. Perimeter walls are concrete, with Douglas fir 2X4 pony walls above the ground level.

The house is a modified pyramid. I'm sure they could raise it on two I-beams.

If they tear that roof off and build up, they will ruin the place, no doubt.

Jim, it is three blocks to sidewalk coffee shops, three blocks to the beach, ten blocks to downtown. There are no vacant lots, so they buy these old places for inflated prices. Then they shiver through the winters cuz there's a ban on woodsmoke. [:)]

A typical approach is to build a warm addition with insulated 2X6 walls, creating a duplex monster. Then they rent out the old half, mortgage helper.

There is bedrock just below the surface in that area, bedrock and gravel, so if Mike's math is correct, I don't think the foundation will be a deterrent. Good taste is another thing.

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In very general terms - I ran the math in another thread, regarding masonry foundations. The average 8" masonry foundation could easily support about fifty more homes stacked one upon another. Adding another story to a masonry foundation is like throwing another gnat on the pile.

But, then I realize you are talking about post and beam. This is not a masonry foundation?

The foundation usually isn't the problem, it's the size of the footing. Around here, anyway, footings from that period were on the small side and our soil isn't exactly bedrock. To add a story, you often have to start by underpinning the footings.

Yes, I suppose that is the ultimate question: can the footings handle twice the weight they are now.

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In very general terms - I ran the math in a nother thread, regarding masonry foundations. The average 8" masonry foundation could easily support about fifty more homes stacked one upon another. Adding another story to a masonry foundation is like throwing another gnat on the pile.

But, then I realize you are talking about post and beam. This is not a masonry foundation?

Thanks Mike. It is a concrete foundation. There will usually be two or three beams supporting the main floor. 8X8 rough-cut posts nailed in under the beams. Perimeter walls are concrete, with Douglas fir 2X4 pony walls above the ground level.

The house is a modified pyramid. I'm sure they could raise it on two I-beams.

If they tear that roof off and build up, they will ruin the place, no doubt.

Jim, it is three blocks to sidewalk coffee shops, three blocks to the beach, ten blocks to downtown. There are no vacant lots, so they buy these old places for inflated prices. Then they shiver through the winters cuz there's a ban on woodsmoke. [:)]

Well, a concrete foundation can handle even more weight psi than masonry, so its ability to handle another story isn't even worth discussing. But, as Jim says, the real question is: can the soil and footing handle it?

Still, the cheapest direction to go is always up. Excavation, footings and foundation account for a great deal of the average addition, and removing those factors from the cost of an addition is a substantial savings.

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There is bedrock just below the surface in that area, bedrock and gravel, so if your math is correct, I don't think the soil will be a deterrent.

Good taste is another storey, and that's a pun.

I think I'll try probing down to the footing so I can at least give them some idea of what's down there.

A typical approach in that area is to leave the old house as is and attach a modern Siamese twin to the back of it. It'll be ugly any way they slice it.

In another part of town, they picked up a Victorian style frame house, moved it to the back corner of the lot, laid down tire mats and blasted the granite down several feet. Then they built a full basement and set the old house back in place. I think it's a triplex now. Nice job.

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There is bedrock just below the surface in that area, bedrock and gravel, so if your math is correct, I don't think the foundation will be a deterrent.

Good taste is another storey, and that's a pun.

A typical approach there is to leave the old house as is and attach a modern Siamese twin to the back of it. It'll be ugly anyway they slice it.

I hear ya.

Most folks rarely think about modifying a home by adding upward. In the 50's adding another story to the back side of a Cape Cod was a really popular thing to do. It seemed, in the neighborhood that I grew up in, that about one in every ten homes was modified in that manner. It's an unconventional addition that requires some demolition, but when you start crunching the numbers, it starts looking pretty good - all carpentry. [:-graduat

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On the nearby lakes, where land is a premium commodity, tear-downs and rebuilds of seasonal homes (think McMansion) is common place. This past year, I watched two vertical expansions similar to those being discussed here........the variation being the current ground-floor story was jacked up, and a new first floor was inserted between that and the existing foundation.......no monkeying with the roof system at all.

.......Greg

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On the nearby lakes, where land is a premium commodity, tear-downs and rebuilds of seasonal homes (think McMansion) is common place. This past year, I watched two vertical expansions similar to those being discussed here........the variation being the current ground-floor story was jacked up, and a new first floor was inserted between that and the existing foundation.......no monkeying with the roof system at all.

.......Greg

Yeah, lots on the lake are a premium here too; except they do it a little differently. In the crawlspace under the "remodeled" behemoth below is a rectangular stemwall foundation from an 800sf cabin that once stood there. One six by six post supporting the mid-span of a girder is the only part of the new house that touches the old foundation. It's weird, you go into the crawlspace and have to circumnavigate that foundation. If you want to inspect inside of it, you have to go through the original exterior wall hatch opening or squeeze between the top of the foundation and the underside of the floor joists above.

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ONE TEAM - ONE FIGHT!!!

Mike

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Around here the property is often worth more than the house that is sitting on it.

When it comes to an old one-story house, by the time you reconfigure the first floor rooms, replace the windows and doors, add insulation, replace the siding, upgrade the mechanical systems, and update the kitchen and bathrooms, there is not much left of the original house. The cost of renovating does not make sense.

Unless the house has historic significance it usually is best to rip it down and start over. On occasion we need to leave at least 50% of the existing house because of grandfathered zoning issues.

The new house can have a higher basement, better energy efficiency, and a new home warranty.

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Around here the property is often worth more than the house that is sitting on it.

When it comes to an old one-story house, by the time you reconfigure the first floor rooms, replace the windows and doors, add insulation, replace the siding, upgrade the mechanical systems, and update the kitchen and bathrooms, there is not much left of the original house. The cost of renovating does not make sense.

Unless the house has historic significance it usually is best to rip it down and start over. On occasion we need to leave at least 50% of the existing house because of grandfathered zoning issues.

The new house can have a higher basement, better energy efficiency, and a new home warranty.

Where my folks lived, that was also true (Naples, Florida). Every time a house sold, in their neighborhood, it was dimolished to build one typically two to three times bigger.

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I'd tell them the same thing that I tell every buyer who talks about adding a second story: If you want a two-story house, go buy a two-story house.

I don't think you'd really tell anyone that.

Sure I would.

It's a dumb idea: It's costly; it's inconvenient; and in the end it always looks like crap.

I told a client the exact same thing just a few weeks ago. I do not get into costs for renos usually, and I never talk about house prices, but this was a young couple who had paid me for another inspection the week prior on another POS. I had to intervene, even if it meant going against inspectors ethics... If you have a lot of extra cash to throw at such a huge renovation, why not look for something in the area with 2 floors? I don't care how handy you are, adding a 2nd floor will be a massive undertaking and extremely costly. I actually drove around after the inspection to look and see other cottages in the area for sale.

PS- Its a good thing that house had a bunch of structural issues.

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It's a dumb idea: It's costly; it's inconvenient; and in the end it always looks like crap.

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I don't think these two look so bad. If I say so myself.

In both cases the homeowners loved the neighborhood and only spent about $75,000.

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Here is one that we did a few years ago. It made sense because the lower level was reorganized but the walls pretty much stayed in the same places. The family of four lived in the basement for a year while the construction was performed above

http://www.ahmarchitects.com/portfolio% ... model1.htm

The bought the house for $400,000, spent another $400,000 and sold it two years later for $1,600,000!!

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That's an awesome modification! What a dramatic change in the total appearance of the property. Very nice, Steven!

That's exactly the kind of stuff we used to do, as well.

There's no limit to what the rich and famous will do. We actually had a lady once, who moved into town because her husband passed away and she didn't want to live so far away from town anymore. They were wealthy and owned a big farm. She bought a nice home and lot, and came to us saying, "I don't want my home to front to the street. I want the front to be the back and the back to be the front." Um, OK...

So, the dining room became the grand foyer, with an entry foyer addition and the back yard became a circle driveway up to the grand entrance. And, she began farming... a little flower and vegetable garden in the center of her circle driveway. The original little foyer became a mud room. And, we threw some dormers on the back side of it (a cape).

She was a bit eccentric, but a real joy to work with - very upbeat old lady.

It was my job to get her ideas on paper and off to the architect after we had it pretty much designed and priced, for final drawings and a stamp.

I can't help but wonder if the next buyer didn't turn the house back around again? or.. if the next home inpsector reported that the house was backwards... [:-tophat]

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