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Wood Foundation Repairs

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First off let me say I don't trust them and would never own one myself.

I recently inspected a homeowner built wood foundation here in Mid-Michigan. The home was approximately 8 years old. The home was built by an old quarry of sand and gravel so supposedly had good drainage. Front of the house was road level, ~8' backfill while the rear was a completely unobstructed walkout that gradualy sloped into a valley. Foundation framing was 2x8 on 16" centers. No gutters on the front of the home and a cement patio that went 12 inches past the roof line and had settled against the house by about 4".

The end result inside was a front to back displacement of the foundation. The bottoms of the studs stayed in place locked against the concrete floor while the tops tipped over.The front wall, center support and rear wall were all out of plumb by about 2" over the 8 foot height.

This got me to thinking afterward, well during as well but I've been thinking about it alot since. Are there any approved ways of repairing a wood foundation?

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Wood foundations can be successfully repaired, but require more than a framing/foundation contractor. Wood foundations typically require "wind bracing" and blocking. This is seldom done, because most are put in because the "builder" can put them in without forms, knowledge, etc..

In the mid-90's we had dozens of open files on defective wood foundations, but have not had one in a couple of years now. One I remember was sunken 8-10" and skewed by at least 6" and was repaired within one day by a knowledgeable person. In my opinion wood foundations put in correctly are OK - 60% are not put in correctly.

Your particular example is a soil issue - drainage does not equal bearing capacity. Sand typically found with gravel equals round sand particles with no bearing capacity. Think about playing on the beach with sand that melts when water hits it! Pit run sand, (sharp sand)interlocks and has low compressibility.

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If you're interested, we have a permanent wood foundation guide in TIJ's downloads section. Go to the menu bar above, pass your cursor over "resources" choose "downloads" and then scroll down until you find it.



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I was first introduced to the system in the mid 80s. A whole housing develpment used them.

So, is there a projected life span for a wood foundation? One would think sooner or late some part of the moisture protection system would give up the ghost and rot would begin.

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I understand what your saying, but it just didn't present that way. It was as if someone grabbed the double top plate of the foundation at the front and pushed. From the end wall the basement looks like a parallelogram. That said my main curosity is whether there are standard repair technique for wood foundation. We are all familiar with many different ways to repair masonary basements, how to tackle a problem in a wood foundation I am clueless. BTW tried to stop by the office Tuesday on my way to Detroit but you were already gone for the day.


Thanks, I grabbed that before posting. This site is a great resource.


I think that I have seen wood foundations with a 25 year guarantee. Not gonna make me run out and grab one. Biggest problem is that they are often installed by Joe Homeowner, as was this case in this one. Tons of framing mistakes, missing double top plates at garage foundation, missing/improper end wall blocking, improper corner sheating overlap, etc.


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Got it! With the knowledge of homeowner built and scant material, likely it is at the corners and/or exterior sheathing not being fastened with galv or stainless fasteners. With wood you could go corner to corner on end walls to straighten, then let it bracing. Takes a mathmatical carpenter.

Tuesday, I went home and took a nap! You know

I am getting old!

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  • 10 years later...

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