12-03-2008 08:12 AM
We are looking at a 1920's home that seems perfect for us with one huge exception - the floor in the main level - mainly in the living room and hallway - are uneven. It is the original wood floor that appears to be slanted and bowed. It is quite noticeable and not something we would be able to live with.
I am just wondering if anyone has experience with this situation. I don't know what causes it - if it's the foundation, or if we could just put a new floor on top that was even? Are we looking at a $20,000 project? More? Less? Any input is appreciated!
12-03-2008 09:20 AM
Bow and slanting could be one of a few things. The hardwood floor will need to be replaced. Over time, due to any number of reasons, the wood may have warped and curved.
It could be the joists below the floor that need repair or replacement. These are the beams that hold the house on top of the foundation.
It is possible that the foundation has sunk on one side.
My suggestion is to get a good inspector, someone highly rated, on the site to tell you exactly what it is. Then, start calling general contractors to find out what it's going to cost you.
Depending on the damage, it's conceivable that $20,000 is a conservative estimate. Of course, with the fall off in the housing industry right now, you may find a contractor that is willing to do it for a lot less than he or she normally would, just to have the work.
Inspection to determine the exact nature of the problem, then inspection by someone who is going to fix it, and then estimate. And, of course, make sure that the amount of the repair comes off the selling price of the house.
12-03-2008 11:09 AM
I wouldn't suggest a new floor over the old. That old of house could have been supported by posts on pads or even set on logs. The interior walls are probably bearing walls and settlement has occurred. Have your inspector or your husband go in the crawl space and check the level of the beam line under the area in question.
Repairs at that point could consist of something as simple as shims between post and beams to digging out an entire crawlspace and replacing rotted floor framing and a failed foundation. $500 to $50,000
12-03-2008 03:43 PM
Thanks for the response, guys. Just found out from the seller that the floors were like that when they bought the house a few years ago and during their inspection, it was determined that the bowing was due to the house settling. Apparently the seller was not bothered by the "lumpy" floors, and was happy living with it like that.
If this problem is indeed due to the house settling, what exactly do we do? The basement is finished and so we can't easily see the floor from the bottom.
I am seriously considering making an offer on this house, but not sure how much to deduct from my offer price to account for the uneven flooring. Any thoughts?
12-03-2008 06:04 PM
If the foundation is sound (scary it settled that much!!!) then it is likely it will likely only need shims to bring the floor back to level. If there is only a crawlspace or the foundation is open in the basement this should be able to be done without opening any walls. However, I think anyone here will agree that having a contractor come in a give you an estimate is your best bet. The nice part about this is given the current environment it will probably be pretty easy to find someone to do this at no cost to you.
I doubt even if there is someone here qualified to give you an estimate, they will insist on seeing it first.
12-03-2008 07:50 PM
Why does this not make sense to me.
We have a 90 year old house. 'Settling' usually occurs within the first few years of the life of the house, so any settling would be done by, say, 1930. Are you telling me that the floors have been warped for almost 80 years? And no one fixed them?
I don't buy that.
I will buy that the foundation is deteriorating, or even that the land, the physical ground, that the house is sitting on may have moved, i.e., an earthquake.
Here's my take. In Washington, there is no standards for a house inspector, other than a requirement to have a pest inspection license. Many inspectors will subscribe to, and follow the national code, but it's purely voluntary. So, the seller is telling you what their inspector told them. First, I'm not believing a seller in this economy who is trying to get rid of a house. I want my own inspector to hand me a report *I* paid for. Secondly, if there is ANY question at all about a structural issue with the house, other than water damage, insect infestation or something glaring obvious that even a three year old can point out, I want someone who is in the building trade, general contractor, etc., to put their eyes on it, and say 'yeah, it settled, and it's been this way for 80 years.' or 'no, I wouldn't touch this house with a 15' paint pole!'
There may be a real good reason that this house is for sale, like it's going to come crashing down around people's heads in three years. Or, it may be perfectly fine, but find out from people YOU trust, and YOU have paid for their expertise.
12-04-2008 01:41 PM
You sound like you are serious about this particular house,if so,then spend some $$ and get a structural engineer out on site.This is the only person qualified to do this work.
DO NOT depend on an appraiser OR a contractor OR "somebody in the trade".
This may or may not be serious but you need peace of mind.
If the seller sees you as a serious buyer they may pay half of the cost
Good luck to you
12-04-2008 01:58 PM
This could be a MAJOR problem, especially if it's a symptom of foundation problems. Foundation problems are often considered "incurable functional obsolescence" - termed "incurable" because the cost to return the home to its original condition is so prohibitive, it exceeds the value of the house. I have heard of foundation issues being estimated in the couple hundred thousand dollar range to fix.
If you still want to proceed with purchasing the house, make sure you research thoroughly. You might want to get opinions from a couple of different inspectors. If the lot is near a hillside, you might also want to consider getting a soil report to figure out if the lot could contribute to foundation problems. If you can find an exceptionally experienced appraiser, you could pay to have an analysis specifying the cost to cure the problem.
Bear in mind with all professionals, the level of expertise greatly effects their opinions. The best advice I can give is pursue as many reputable experts' opinions as you can and proceed with caution.