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House Leveling update
Old 05-13-2013, 12:13 PM   #1
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House Leveling update

Okay.....

On another thread I mentioned that we had discovered that the fireplace in the house we bought 3 years ago had developed a couple of cracks, and that we had hired a structural engineer to evaluate what needed to be done. He discovered that the chimney was only partially located over the foundation, was placing WAY too much weight on the joists, and recommended we get a foundation company out to shore it up and put a new foundation under it.

Well, the foundation company came out and was in the process of shoring it up when this happened.

Let us just say we have discovered that the chimney was NOT built to code........no ties to anything, etc. We are now deciding whether to replace it or just do away with the fireplace altogether. As little as we use a fireplace, I'm voting for the extra floorspace, but DW has the final say. We plan on leaving this house feet first, but know that houses in this area almost require a fireplace for resale.

Not what we (or the foundation company) expected.... and suspect the bugdet for tis project has just gone up significantly.....Sigh.
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Old 05-13-2013, 12:17 PM   #2
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Ouch. Did you have any type of inspection done when the home was purchased? Was the house built to code?
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Old 05-13-2013, 12:20 PM   #3
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Oh my! I would back away from the fireplace if I were you, or the house will not be the only thing that gets flattened!

It looks like a pretty big chimney. I don't know your house, obviously, but I vote for not replacing it.

This is why we have emergency funds, eh? Will insurance cover it?
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Old 05-13-2013, 12:35 PM   #4
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Like Michael said - ouch. I wonder if the contractor's insurance might cover it since it fell apart while they were working on it.

Perhaps your DW might compromise in favor of a gas fireplace.

Our seasonal "camp" had a nice fieldstone fireplace that we decided to take down while we were putting in a foundation (the camp was on cedar posts that were rotting out). We rarely used the fireplace and fireplaces typically draw more heat out of a building than they provide unless you have a insert of some sort.

We installed a woodstove in our new house but I really wanted that 3-sided peninsula fireplace even though I know it would have been inefficient I think seeing the fire on three sides would have been cool.
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Old 05-13-2013, 12:41 PM   #5
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Not good! Please keep us informed on how this plays out, including ins company. Was the FP original, or added on? Is there a record of permit/inspection?

Quote:
Originally Posted by EllisWyatt View Post
We are now deciding whether to replace it or just do away with the fireplace altogether. As little as we use a fireplace, I'm voting for the extra floorspace, but DW has the final say.
A compromise could be a gas-fired unit. They vent right out the wall, so no real structural issues, and should be pretty cheap to do. Not the same as wood burning, but pretty close for someone who doesn't use it much, and so much more convenient. The good ones give a nice flame and burning log effect. And w/o the updraft chimney, they don't take up much floor space at all, and none on the second floor (if that applies here).

-ERD50
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Old 05-13-2013, 12:49 PM   #6
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I would get rid of the fireplace, too! Surely your DW will understand, now that she has seen the damage we are seeing in your photo.
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Old 05-13-2013, 01:02 PM   #7
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Back in '96 we were building a house and had to decided on a fireplace. We put one in, but no chimney. Used ventless gas logs.
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Old 05-13-2013, 01:07 PM   #8
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Yikes! On a good note I would get rid of the fireplace but save the bricks and make a nice patio in the back.
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Old 05-13-2013, 01:15 PM   #9
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If it was me I would certainly get rid of the fireplace. Personally I don't like Fireplaces. The house we have now as one of the gas log "fireplaces" and that doesn't use up the floor space nearly as much. It does use up wallspace though so that is a negative.
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Old 05-13-2013, 01:19 PM   #10
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Holy cow - thats scary ! On the other hand it could be worse - when I saw the title "house leveling" I had visions of the fireplace taking the rest of the house down (leveling it to the ground).
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Old 05-13-2013, 01:27 PM   #11
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We did have the house inspected before we bought it, but this was not discovered. All wiring, plumbing, framing, roofing, etc was done to code (even met Post-Katrina code) and did not have Chinese drywall. We thought we were good to go, but obviously not everything was done properly. We are having a mason come out this afternoon to see if it is salvagable (not likely), give an estimate to tear it down or tear it down and replace it.

On a brighter(??) note - at least it will be taken care of now, not after a hurricane knocked it over.

Evidently, as the previous owner was building the house, he decided to add this little bundle of joy in at the last minute. Looks like he got "Darryl an his other brother Darryl" as masons.
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Old 05-13-2013, 01:33 PM   #12
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We should end up with ALOT of bricks - the fireplace and chimney are massive and go up 2 stories.

+1 : thank heavens for emergency funds.
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Old 05-13-2013, 01:45 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by EllisWyatt View Post
Evidently, as the previous owner was building the house, he decided to add this little bundle of joy in at the last minute. Looks like he got "Darryl an his other brother Darryl" as masons.
Sometimes even the pros aren't so good...

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Old 05-13-2013, 01:54 PM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by EllisWyatt View Post
We did have the house inspected before we bought it, but this was not discovered. All wiring, plumbing, framing, roofing, etc was done to code (even met Post-Katrina code) and did not have Chinese drywall. We thought we were good to go, but obviously not everything was done properly. We are having a mason come out this afternoon to see if it is salvagable (not likely), give an estimate to tear it down or tear it down and replace it.

On a brighter(??) note - at least it will be taken care of now, not after a hurricane knocked it over.

Evidently, as the previous owner was building the house, he decided to add this little bundle of joy in at the last minute. Looks like he got "Darryl an his other brother Darryl" as masons.
You are SO right about knowing this now and being able to take care of it before more damage is done.

How did the inspector miss it ? THAT'S uber scary !!!
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Old 05-13-2013, 02:40 PM   #15
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Evidently, when they layed the brick veneer, they didn't use clips to connect the masonry to the framing, which is internal and not visible to the inspector. When we had te house inspected, the house was only 2 years old and the chimney hadn't starting started moving, so there was no indication of a problem. Based on the size and style of foundation under the chimney, the suspicion is that original plans called for a sheetrock frame around the chimney, which was changed to a brick veneer somewhere along the way.

Caveat emptor
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Old 05-13-2013, 02:49 PM   #16
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I would guess the inspector would have had to have a ripe suspicion of something amiss to catch that. The mortar joints don't look very consistent, which usu. is a point of shame for a real bricklayer, but have nothing to do with structural quality. The engineer had a better shot and probably had the tape ready when in the crawlspace.

I'm for tearing it out unless a real fireplace mason likes it enough to save. Does it draw well as a fireplace?
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Old 05-13-2013, 04:14 PM   #17
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Hope no one went missing just before the sudden decision to put up a fireplace.
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Old 05-13-2013, 04:44 PM   #18
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Nothing a little caulking wouldn't hide.

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Old 05-13-2013, 04:53 PM   #19
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Nothing a little caulking wouldn't hide.

Or some pretty thick caulking!
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Old 05-13-2013, 05:10 PM   #20
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Maybe a little epoxy and a couple of ten-penny nails?
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