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restump or relevel existing stumps?

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  1. #1
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    Default restump or relevel existing stumps?

    Hi folks,

    I live in Earlwood in Sydney's Western suburbs. I'm not sure of the soil type although Earlwood is on a hill. Have just bought a 1960 single story fibro on stumps. I've been checking out the posts here and all the symptoms of stumping issues are present. Uneven floors, squeaky floorboards etc. Also the picture rails that run along the walls are curved. Can anyone explain how to tell if I need the house restumped, I assume this means replacing the existing (??) as opposed to relevelled?
    Also if anyone can recommend someone to do this in the Inner West area I'd be most grateful.
    Cheers

  2. #2
    Duck Fat - 2K club member SilentButDeadly's Avatar
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    If you haven't already done so........I'd strongly recommend getting in touch with the Archicentre and get one of their reps to have a bit of a squiz. Bear in mind that they are mostly just architects as opposed to builders but there'd be little in Sydney they haven't already seen.

    Hate to tell you but in Sydney this sounds like a pull down proposition.....restumping/reblocking a house is rather expensive ($100 a stump?), takes months and leaves you with a level house but one that often needs new flooring (because of broken tounges and gooves in floors), new walling (because the internal cladding has crackeed up....and new ceilings for the same reason.
    People don't ever seem to realise that doing what's right is no guarantee against misfortune

  3. #3
    Senior Member Ashwood's Avatar
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    Depends on your intentions for the house.

    A full/proper restumping means they change your old (usually timber) stumps to new stumps (usually concrete precast stumps), and in the process relevel the house as well.

    That is the ideal situation, but in the process of doing so (mainly the levelling bit), it moves the components in the house, ie. the timber, plaster, etc etc which have sagged very slowly through time. This means you will get cracks, broken tiles, basically lots of cosmetic damage.

    Hence the advice by SilentButDeadly, which is correct.

    But if you are short of cash for that ( and I fully appreciate this scenario myself ) and your intention is to keep the house, and you don't want to spend money renovating the finishes, etc (or repairing cracked tiles, plaster,etc.) AND if you don't mind the curved house members and automatic sliding chairs (ie. sloping floors), then you might want to consider replacing stumps without doing the levelling.

    This is not ideal, but this would mean ensuring a stable foundation and peace of mind. The reason houses usually get that way (curved) is that the old wooden stumps have rotted at its base where it meets soil, and replacing the stumps means you ensure your house will remain at it's current position (unfortunately locking in the curves) and NOT sink further (or not significantly anyway).

    Hope this info helps.

  4. #4
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    Default

    Thanks for the replies. Intention is to stay in the house for a while. The stumps are brick and seem to be set in concrete. The gap is about one meter although the ground slopes away slightly across the house. I don't know if related but the concrete around the house, down the side is cracking and not level, i.e. it is falling away. Having gone through old threads on this forum I'm thinking it could be a re packing need. Any ideas on time frame/ approx costs and especially likelihood of cracking of walls etc. The thought of having to cost in and complete cosmetics afterwards, e.g. bathroom tiles, does not appeal. How quickly does the situation deteriorate? At present curves are not a major hassle but will it get worse? Or has it taken 50 odd years to move this far and why worry?? There seems to be heaps or relevelling specialists in VIC/ QLD etc but none in Sydney.

  5. #5
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    If the stumps are brick set in concrete, the only reason for them to subside would be unstable ground beneath them, so packing them level may be only a short term solution.
    I think you need to get an expert to check it out

    Regards Bradford

  6. #6
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    Yeah I'm pretty sure that it is to do with the concrete stump slightly sinking into the ground. If this is the case is it something that happens over many years? If it's going to take another 10 years for it to drop 10mm then I can live with that. Or is it better to try and fix it now? The soil under the house seems fairly dry and there is good sub floor ventilation. There is one brick stump that is noticably lower and the bearers that cross over on it are both bent down towards it. This is causing the drop in the floor, right under a load bearing wall across two doorways. Also concrete path down the side of the house is cracking up and dropping away towards the neighbors fence. Could the two be related to the same problem?

  7. #7
    Senior Member Ashwood's Avatar
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    ooooh, if they are not timber stumps, or not even concrete stumps, and they look like brick, then they may be brick piers?

    Given the case, I'd tend to agree with Bradford.

    Concrete piers or even stumps are not likely to sink into the ground the same way timber stumps do, and it sounds like subground settlement.

    I'd think about getting someone in to take a look. A civil/structural engineer perhaps.

    But maybe post some photos first. It may describe the picture more clearly.

  8. #8
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    Thanks Bradford and Ashwood, you're right they are piers not stumps. Buying a house takes one on so many fast learning curves - all fun and games. I'll get a photo up here on the weekend for you to have a look at. I actually think that I may have been a bit overreacting about the situation. The house has been there since 1960 and I guess old houses do settle. Because it's a wooden frame its flexing around a bit but I think not too much of a drama. Still interested and appreciate to hear your thoughts after the photo goes up.
    Thanks and Regards

  9. #9
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    Default Robert STUTSEL

    I am no expert but the first thing, I would do is,learn to use a large length of clear plastic tube (20 metres) filled with water as a level. Mark a starting level about one metre up one wall and then mark that same exact level on each wall of the house (two person job). Then measure from the marks to the floor and by comparing each reading, you will find the highest mark and it is correct to assume that all others have sunk (but your highest mark, may have also sunk as well).
    Note the majority of weight bears on walls and you may find the middle of rooms much higher than the walls. You may have to raise your highest stump to get the walls level with the centres of the rooms. All other wall stumps will then have to be raised higher - "chocked".
    One problem (which is almost insurmountable) is that bathrooms on raised slabs etc may have sunk and this will limit your ability to get them level with the rest of the house. [Sunken slabs can be raised but are a different ball game]
    I would pick the worst stumps (lowest) and chock them up a little bit at a time over weeks with specially cut pieces of fibro cement (to allow the sub-floor timbers to straighten over time).. If no work has been done on the house, you are lucky, as jacking and chocking will re-level it without doing any damage. If new work has been done which is still level, jacking mayl put it out of level and in many cases crack plasterboard, tiles etc.
    Make a plan of the house and the stumps and work out which ones have to come up and by how much. Note, it may be that one (or a small number) is unusually high and
    it may be easier to cut it off at the top and then pack it up a little, to bring it to a height you want. If one is un-usually low, you may need to remove it, dig deeper and install and new stump.
    It is not "rocket science", so have a go. In the long term, you may need to get some expensive professional to do it but check out handyman mates etc. You may need to get a couple of suitable hydraulic jacks. Best of luck

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