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MellyNel

10:13AM | 07/29/03
Member Since: 07/20/03
18 lifetime posts
Bvmisc
I just bought a 1982 house whose previous owners knocked out a wall so that the kitchen, dining room and living room are all open. Above these open rooms that take up one side of the house are two bedrooms. I can't figure out for the life of me how these rooms can be supported safely. When I'm upstairs I can feel the floors bounce when my husband walks across the room. It creaks terribly, too. We had an inspector who came out and looked at the house when we put the contract on it and he didn't mention anything wrong. The guy who lived there before was some type of engineer (civil, I think) and he did the renovation himself, I believe. I need some kind of reassurance that my 2nd floor is not going to end up on the 1st floor. My husband thinks I'm crazy for being so paranoid (although he knows nothing about construction or anything home-related really) but it's eating at me. I can't even go upstairs without getting stressed out.

What type of professional can I have come out to the house to look at it? Just a regular home inspector? Like I said, we had one come out, but I'm just not convinced. It's too bouncy and squeaky to be safe.

Any guidance, advice (medication even?) is appreciated. I'm freaking!
Melanie

k2

12:19PM | 07/29/03
Member Since: 06/06/03
1250 lifetime posts
Hi Melanie,

I'll preface this response by saying that I'm not an engineer or home builder; just a homeowner who (like lots of others) have had to have a wall looked at to see if it's bearing. So just a "very" humble opinion!

A structural engineer (or architect) can analyze load factors and follow them down to your foundation. But in my experience, a good carpenter (someone who does serious remodels) can do just about as well. If it were me, I'd be tempted to ask around and try and find someone like that--since he/she'd likely be the one who could tackle fixing the problem anyway. I tell ya, there are pros out there who just seem to have a 'feel' for houses; they just glance at it and say, "yeah, needs a beam" or "no, that ain't nuttin'". The trick is finding one of those guys! (Personally, I wouldn't use a home inspector for this.)

I'm curious, have you:

--Measured the ceiling height across the room, to see how much (if any) it might have sagged? Or held a level to see how much it's off?

--Gone down to the crawl space and see if there's a big footing under the middle of the open area? If I were buying that home, these are just a few things I'd check (OK, as well as hiring a pro!)

I would think if the previous owner was any kind of engineer he'd have seen telltale signs of a load-bearing wall (such as joists overlapping the wall). But I've read accounts of even experienced people missing one of the signs.

Home ownership is stressful enough without having to be reaching for Valium right after move-in. It sounds as if this problem was disclosed (making recourse difficult against previous owner), and a home inspector may conceivably have missed the problem (if it's "hidden")--but some of the better inspectors may have caught it as well. Hopefully it's "just paranoia" and all turns out OK--and you can go back to having 'normal' home ownership for a while. Please keep us posted; the best of luck.

-k.

k2

10:53AM | 07/31/03
Member Since: 06/06/03
1250 lifetime posts
Hi again,

Just wondering how it's going. I kind of expected more action on this post. Hopefully things are going better than expected with this and your other move-in problem(s)--and hope the Valium hasn't been necessary.

Best of luck,
-k.


MellyNel

03:14AM | 08/13/03
Member Since: 07/20/03
18 lifetime posts
k2,
Thanks for checking in with me. I still have not had a chance to get anyone to look at it. It's still keeping me awake at nights. I haven't slept upstairs with my husband for over a week now. He thinks I'm crazy, but it terrifies me. The floors groan and creak so badly when he walks on it that when he gets up in the morning, the noise startles me awake. He swears there is nothing wrong w/ that but the ENTIRE second floor sounds so horrible from downstairs that I just can't believe him. I'm trying to get one of my uncles to come over (they both build homes) but they're so busy right now building that it's hard for them. So, I continue to get drunk every night so I can pass out on the couch. I wish we'd never bought this house. it's not how I envisioned being a newlywed.

k2

07:30AM | 08/13/03
Member Since: 06/06/03
1250 lifetime posts
Hey welcome back Melanie,

Sorry to hear about the ongoing stress. Have you measured the floor-to-ceiling height across that room yet?

I think getting one or both of your uncles over there for their opinions is an excellent idea. Preferably at the same time. Invite them for dinner! You could get some very interesting dialogue going.

I find that a drink or two can help with smaller stressers--such as getting home from a hard day, rush hour traffic, etc....but that it (drinking) doesn't work well if there's something overbearing and long-term (such as what you're experiencing) going on in my life. You definitely need someone to look at that house!

Please keep us posted; I've got my fingers crossed for you!

-k.

k2

04:15PM | 08/27/03
Member Since: 06/06/03
1250 lifetime posts
Welcome back Melanie,

Very curious! Did you ever get this bouncy floor sorted out? (If you're writing in about hostas, maybe things aren't too bad )


MellyNel

05:42AM | 09/02/03
Member Since: 07/20/03
18 lifetime posts
Hey, thanks for checking in on me! I still have not gotten the bouncy/creaking floor situation sorted out. I called a friend of mine over. He is a contractor/builder/handyman. He is going to do some other work for me (replace some exterior siding, tile some floors, etc) so I had him come over and look. He said that he could reinforce some of the beams in the bedroom area. He said he could do this from the room below by taking out part of the ceiling, inserting more beams, and then patching back up the ceiling. I don't know...the whole darn 2nd floor sounds like it's going to cave in. He went upstairs at one point and starting bouncing on the one spot that sounds the worse (this is the high-traffice area of the master bedroom) and I could see it moving with his weight (bulging out) from the room below. That FREAKED me out! I'm waiting for him to get back to me about how much this might cost. I wish I could just tear out the entire 2nd level floor and build a new one. The subflooring is bad too. It's creaky, it's uneven and when my husband walks across it, I can feel it bounce. I just hate this house.

I'll keep you posted!

k2

05:25AM | 09/04/03
Member Since: 06/06/03
1250 lifetime posts
Hi Melanie,

Thanks for the update. Sounds like your friend (the contractor's) first priority should be that ceiling! Anyway, glad to hear you're having it looked at....it does sound scary!

I tell ya something--you have this problem fixed, and maybe do a couple more things to your liking--and watch out--you might just start to LIKE your home!

Good luck, please keep us "posted" (so to speak....sorry, couldn't resist!)

-k.

Bob Jr

04:46PM | 09/17/03
Member Since: 01/19/03
44 lifetime posts
You need a professional opinion. Somebody who will look at the joists and the span and look the numbers up in the books.

Is the floor bouncy or does it just squeak and squall when walking on it?

My house built in 1978 is really squeaky, unfortunately it is a four level split and all the ceilings are finished. Have to tear out the ceiling or floors to get the squeaks out. Gets really bad in the summer when the AC dries out the air in the house and bad in the winter as well. Just a poor job of gluing and nailing the subfloor down.

Bad thing is the house is for sale and I tell my wife not to walk around when we are showing it during open houses. LOL We can hear them upstairs when we are down, etc. We don't move and maybe they won't notice it as much!!!

Piffin

03:52PM | 09/20/03
Member Since: 11/06/02
1284 lifetime posts
Melly,

I'd like to help you out with your marriage problem and let you get some sleep again. something to put you mind at ease is here in what i have to say.

But the bad news first. It sounds to me like the previous owner did not apply his engineering knowledge to his own structure. There are engineers who believe they are above the laws of physics and try to walk on water, so to speak. It is typical, when framing a house, to use engineered flor joists that span all the way across an interior bearing wall or to use solid lumber jost that are slightly longer than half of that and splice them together in the middle over that bearing wall. Obviously the wall was removed and the joists are now overspanned or under-engineered. You'll need a good framing contractor or structural engineer to analyuse and come up with a solution.

Now the good news that should let you sleep at night;
Steel, when it fails because of overload, will collapse all at once with the type of results that you are imagining.
Wood most often does not. It fails in small ways over a long period of time. It shows symptoms along the way of deflecting, groaning, and warping under the loads. You are seeing the ongoing SLOW failure in bits and pieces. A sudden catastrophe is unlikely, unless you decide to buy a waterbed and invite the gymnastics team over for a slumber party on a new moon in Janruary and feed thjem all chicken and dumplings with a keg of beer.

So do take care if it, but don't lose all this sleep over it.

BTW, How big a man is hubby anyways? Did he once play the Hulk on TV

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