September 29, 2009

Foundation Repair, Part I: Deck demolition

September was a month of major chaos at our house, as we finally got to addressing foundation issues I probably should have dealt with, oh, about when I bought the house. A serious lack of drainage led to crumbling concrete and a rotting sill beam. Addressing that, unfortunately, was both expensive and disruptive. With the new drainage and the foundation and sill repaired, though, I have a lot more confidence that my house is here to stay, plus the bonus of a much drier basement.

We sought estimates this spring. The hardest part was getting people to return phone calls and actually come look at the place, but in the end we accepted an estimate from Sunny Brook Builders, and they started only a couple of weeks late.

The first task was ripping the deck off the back of the house. The deck had pretty much always been my least favorite feature of the house, somehow big enough to be inconvenient while too small to be useful. It turned out to be easily removable, though. Dan, the carpenter from Sunnybrook, demolished it in a morning.

Dan pries off the deck surface.
Dan pries off the deck surface.

Getting rid of the deck (I didn't want to keep it) left us with two problems. First, of course, is the long-term question of what to replace it with. Our budget required postponing that for later consideration. Second, it revealed just how extensive the damage to the sill beam and concrete was.

Rotten sill and crumbling concrete.
Rotten sill and crumbling concrete.

This house was framed with old barn beams, and most of them are doing very well. This particular beam, however, faced uphill, and bore the brunt of all the water coming down the hill. The wall below it held water back, crumbling as the pressure against it grew. (There is a drainage trench inside the basement, but water only reached it at a few places, most notably at an old well connection.)

The next step would be excavation, to put a new drainage system in behind and along the house.

if you want to see the work all the way through, here are links to the full set of stories:

Posted by simon at September 29, 2009 5:21 PM in
Note on photos