When I've had time lately to get rehab work done, I've been focused on the basement. The initial reason was to deal with the rodent infestation, but with that seemingly taken care of, the emphasis has now changed to getting structural stuff squared away.
In reality, structurally, the vast majority of the basement is just fine. The foundation is pretty much intact, and the posts and beams holding up the interior of the house are doing their job. If I wanted to leave all of it as is, it'd be a defensible decision.
However, the perfectionist in me, as well as the structural engineering education I received many years ago won't allow that to happen. The posts need a little help, and the longer of the two beams, it's sort of a disaster. Doing its job, yes, sort of, but a disaster nonetheless.
Let's start with the original setup, shown here:
The front of the house is at the bottom the pic; the rear of the house is at the top. Originally, the front of the house's interior was supported by one long wooden beam and three wooden posts beneath it. That's still the setup today, but with some amendments, a couple of which are shown here:
The front end of the beam must have rotted away at some point - due to water infiltration before the covered front porch was added - and about a 4' section of it got replaced with a few 2x8s. Rather than replace it from the foundation wall to the first original post, somebody added a lally column to support the joint where the replacement 2x8s meet up with the original 8x8.
Despite all the basement gutting I've done this setup is still intact, mostly because it appears to be a house of cards and until I'm ready to really make it go away, which will involve all sorts of beefy temp walls and jacks and dicey situations, it's probably best left alone. And even if I could live with the horrible aesthetics of the 2x8s and lally column, structurally, it's a legit failure:
Remember the basement floor demo at the front of the house? The floor was lauan on top of tile on top of tongue and groove pine on top of 2x4s, laid flat, on top of concrete. For that stupid lally column to be halfway structurally sound, it would need to be placed in line with (on top of) one of those 2x4s.
But in this case, it's not; it's placed between the 2x4s, which means there's a void between the metal lally column and the concrete floor. That's a no-no. And even if the thing had structure connecting it to the concrete floor, with no footing under that particular spot on the floor, it's still not a proper setup.
So there's that. Then there's the first/original post:
For all the rockstar craftsmanship that took place 100+ years ago, one thing the builders back then definitely didn't get correct was their understanding of how concrete and wood interact. Long story short, if you embed wood in concrete, sooner or later the wood will rot. This post is on top of a concrete footing, but the bottom couple inches were embedded in the concrete floor, and that's led to some bad things over the years. But there's no sense in trying to repair or replace a section of a post, you pretty much have to replace the whole thing, so this one's gotta go.
And this is the section - the front 1/2 of the post-and-beam setup - that isn't all that bad.
The rear 1/2...somebody did a "remodel" - my guess is to increase the headroom under the beam - many decades ago and essentially replaced the 8x8 beam with a 3x8, and replaced the two 8x8 posts with a few 2x4s slapped together. This was the original arrangement:
And this is all the stuff, in yellow, that was redone over the years:
It's all kind of a mess, and while it's done its job, I have doubts about how well it's accomplished its only mission in life. Why? Because the basement stairs are between the yellow section of beam and the foundation wall to the west, which means the floor joists in that area aren't supported by the foundation wall on that side of the house; they're supported by that dumb 3x8.
And I think it's sagged a little bit over the years.
Everywhere else, that beam is a "helper", located between the east and west foundation walls that support the floor joists. adjacent to the stairs, the floor joists are just supported by the 3x8 beam and one foundation wall, 15 or so feet away.
I still haven't entirely demo'd that section of basement, mainly because like the lally column, everything is so half-assed that I felt like I needed to add some temporary supports before taking anything apart further. As such...no good pics, so you'll just have to take my word on it.
As for the posts and beam in the back half of the basement, they're all still original, but in this case the foundation wall that separates the basement into halves is what's a mess. I'll discuss it down the road...when my pointing efforts reach that point in the basement. Until then, I'll keep plugging away with the pointing...
...and hoping that lumber prices come back down to earth sometime soon. Even if they don't, I'm gearing up for the insanity that will be replacing those front three posts and the entire beam within the next month or two, so I can get on with the big interior projects on the main floor with a solid, level(ish) set of joists underneath it. Wish me luck.
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