Friday, May 9, 2008

Engineering to the rescue

The top picture is what you see when you walk in my front door. The next photo is what's behind the mirror hanging on the wall. The third photo is on the other side of the wall where a door knob punched through the wall. The wallboard inside the wall has separated from the plaster scrim, and is buckling. I don't think there is enough spackle in the world to fix this.
We didn't know if it might be old termite damage in the floor that might be causing the wall to settle, but it also occurred to us that the settling cracks upstairs might be related. Duh. Clearly we need an expert opinion.
The structural engineer came yesterday. All the problems stem from one source: one of two support columns in the basement, in the center of the house. The problem column is directly under this hallway, supporting the I-beam running from the front to the back of the house. Over the 70+ years since the house was built that column has settled about an inch or so. You can really see the effects upstairs, where the hall bathroom door is at least an inch higher on one side than the other.
The solution? We have to lift the center of the house from the basement about an inch or so. Easier than it sounds. A lolly column next to the two-foot thick original column, crank to lift, shim it, then take the temporary column out. Voila! My architect neighbor had the same solution (though he was less sure about it). He said you'd have to crank it up a little at a time, but the engineer said Nah-- they just do it. I'm relieved. I'm so anxious to finally have this fixed! We'll hire somebody to do the drywall repair. Russ then goes off into paroxysms of ideas for fixing everything else. Don't know if we can afford to have the livingroom done too, but I'll get a price on it. Maybe just pay for the drywall and prep work, then we can paint.


Kathleen said...

It's good that this is a fairly simple fix. What will it cost? Did the engineer say?

A painter can do the drywall repair.

Anonymous said...

Why go to the trouble of a lally column? A car jack,4x4 beam and Charles Atlas should do the trick.

wvlvoadf - the letters I had to type to post this, so the computer knows I am not a computer. Don't you love it!

Kathy said...

The car jack idea is tempting in its simplicity, but I'd rather somebody else be responsible for knowing how to lift (and how far)and shim and all that.

Kathy said...

In retrospect, I think you just wrote so you could correct my spelling on "lolly column." Is is really "lally"?