Dawn McKenzie

07:04PM | 02/23/99
I have a small cottage that was built in 1952, attached to my house built in 1990, then added onto in 1998. The cottage, whose foundation is merely cinderblock on top of soil with a small crawl space, is sinking. The floors are uneven. Cracks are appearing where the walls meet the ceiling. A considerable amount of renovation has been done to the interior of the cottage. I would very much like to maintain it as it is. However, it must be shored up in some way. I already have a couple of jacks in the crawl space supporting the most needy floor joists. Any suggestions on how I can safely and affordably bring the structure back to a more level existence while simultaneously putting an end to further sinking?


11:19AM | 02/26/99
You need to pour a new footer, which means digging down to below the frost line in your area. Either the footer was improperly built or there never was one. The earth can exert a tremendous amount of force and it will continue to do so until you correct the problem. If your area permits, you may be able to get away with a pier system to lessen the workload. Local authorities would have to approve it before they make you install a whole footer anyway. The piers would have to be placed at critical structural areas to prevent a total collapse (which is going to happen anyway without a fix).

If this is a one story cottage, you also have to check any interior walls for bearing loads and they also must be shored. This can be a dangerous job, so realize your limitations. If this is a two story structure then it should be left to professionals. Either way the house must be jacked at strategic intervals to allow for a slow even rise. Too much at one point can cause more problems then what you have now. Good luck..

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