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Californian Bungalow Ballarat: wanting to level floor but wall frame bolted to brick

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  1. #1
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    Default Californian Bungalow Ballarat: wanting to level floor but wall frame bolted to brick

    Hi Folks, I was wondering if you might be able to extend some advice? I've purchased a 1935 Califonian Bungalow in Ballarat that I'm doing some internal works to on the front half of the house; replastering, insulation, polishing the floors etc. when I removed all of the plaster I thought it an ideal time to check the level of the floor. It varies from 19mm to 47mm variation from the highest point. The house is on brick piers and the previous owner did level it slightly - underfloor access is ideal so now seems an ideal time to tweak it a little more. The issue I face is that the house is on the boundary and one wall is double brick. It seems that the frame is only tied in at one point by two bolts going through the wall frame and the brick wall. What would be the best thing to do here? Obviously I'm not going to lift with the bolts in place as it will shatter the brick wall - could I undo the bolts and notch the timber frame to accommodate a 30mm lift? Alternatively remove the existing bolts, lift, and reinstate new bolts. Has anybody had a similar experience? 4inpg00.jpg4tankn4.jpgzuwsa2p.jpggrxiqh4.jpg

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    You could get a twist drill bit & elongate the holes then clean up those mortises in the required direction, give it a go & see what happens , or see if the bolts will wind out, or see if you can cut them off behind the stud with a reciprocating saw with a steel blade, make sure the wall won't be structurally weakened if they are removed
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    You may want to check which internal walls are load-bearing. It's hard to tell from the photo, but it looks like the brick wall is supporting some of the roof structure. Therefore, you may cause problems if the stud wall is also load-bearing and you move it relative to the brick wall. You may want to check inside the roof space to see if moving that wall up will upset anything with the roof.

    As an alternative, can you use that spot as a reference and adjust the rest of the flooring (and thereby leave the pinned wall as is)?
    There is no middle ground between facts and fallacies - argumentum ad temperantiam

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    Thanks folks for your feedback... That brick wall does play a part in supporting the roof trusses so I'd have to pack there too... I was going to run some timbers from the floor joist I'm lifting to the truss above it to take some of the weight during the lift prior to packing. It seems the only way to do it will be to either notch the frame or cut off the bolts. I'm leaning toward notching the frame and using large washers then tightening them back up rather than cutting the bolts off - I figure they were installed for a reason. I have to lift between 22 - 30mm on that wall. I wish I could use it as a datum point - sadly it's 22 - 30mm lower than the highest point in the front section of the house. Here's a pic of that wall - in the picture you can see the inner brick which is what was plastered and supports the roof trusses. Above that you can see the outer brick wall that extends above the roof line right on the boundary and forms a parapet wall - between the roof and that outer brick wall is a box gutter..
    Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails jpfx7ex.jpg  

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    I dont seem to be able to find the reference to the wall in the floor plan, can you note where it is.

    From the way I read it the OFP is -19mm and you are saying the wall is -22mm from your reference point. The reference point is the 0mm point in the floor plan ??
    Normally you would use the brick foundations as your reference point, which if I am reading right is -19mm for the OFP and -22mm for the wall, within a few mm. I think you need to change your reference point and lower some point in the house rather than trying to raise all to meet the highest point.

    But then maybe I am not reading the plans right, bit hard to tell without seeing it.

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    Quote Originally Posted by droog View Post
    I dont seem to be able to find the reference to the wall in the floor plan, can you note where it is.

    But then maybe I am not reading the plans right, bit hard to tell without seeing it.
    hey Droog, thanks for your reply... Apologies mate... I've drawn a floor plan which I know what it means but I didn't explain too well. The outer perimeter of the house is brick and the bearers/ends of some joists sitting on piers or channels on that outer brick perimeter. The only way I could drop is by chiselling away some of the brick or notching out the bearers/joists.

    That 0mm point on the left side of the plan is the highest point - all of the other measurements are in reference to that point so -19mm means that the joist at that point is 19mm lower than the 0mm point - the OFP actually has a joist sitting in a channel on the side of the fireplace which can be lifted. The side that the brick wall sits on is on the right hand side of the plan along the 4.0m length and that varies from 30mm to 22mm lower than the reference point.

    When I determined the variation the floor was down so I used a laser level to get a level line along the perimeter and then ran string lines to intersect the piers and measured down to the existing floor to get the variance. Now that I know the variance I'm going to pre-cut fibro cement packers for each pier and then lift 5-10mm per lift at each pier and keep moving around until I have all of the packers under... Slowly and carefully

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    Makes a bit more sense now.

    Before taking the highest point as your reference I would be looking at all the conditions. If you are on clay, wet footings will make the clay expand, pushing up on any foundations.
    I would be hesitant to lift all the frame up separate to the brick wall unless you are convinced that the brick wall foundations have sunk in relation to the rest of the foundations around the house.

    I would stand back with a couple of beers and or a bottle of red and consider where all the movement has occurred, I am sure you have looked carefully at it but sometimes you may need to look from a different angle.
    Good luck, I know the fun (and pain) of old houses.

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    Quote Originally Posted by droog View Post
    Makes a bit more sense now.

    Before taking the highest point as your reference I would be looking at all the conditions. If you are on clay, wet footings will make the clay expand, pushing up on any foundations.
    I would be hesitant to lift all the frame up separate to the brick wall unless you are convinced that the brick wall foundations have sunk in relation to the rest of the foundations around the house.

    I would stand back with a couple of beers and or a bottle of red and consider where all the movement has occurred, I am sure you have looked carefully at it but sometimes you may need to look from a different angle.
    Good luck, I know the fun (and pain) of old houses.
    Thanks for your reply Droog... I'm glad I was able to explain it - my wife often says I'm the only one that can understand what's in my head lol. The house is in Soldiers Hill it seems more like a Quartz sandy loam rather than clay. But, saying that, the high side of the house is damper than the other side that the long brick wall is on as the shared laneway between my neighbours house and mine angles toward our house so, when it rains, the moisture runs my way. When they asphalted the driveway they partially covered over our subfloor vents but left the top row at the perfect height for the water to practically run straight under the house (not in floods but it is noticeably damp). That's the next project! How could I check if the high side is due to clay expansion? Is there a way of checking what my soil is i.e. If it's clay that readily absorbs water.

    Interestingly the the middle of the house are the lowest points. I think there has been some settling as you'll see n the picture below. The pillar has sunk on the left side causing it to lean quite noticeably - the brick wall is on the left side of the image

    cjr3acc.jpg

    So so I guess how can it confident that the wall has sunk? When I look at the internal walls, where the frame mates up to the brick wall, I noted today that at the base its close to the bricks whereas at the top there's around a 40mm gap. I'm going back to the house tomorrow so I'm going to check a few more levels/gaps. I guess one key indicator for whether the wall has sunfish ether or not the rows of bricks in the wall are relatively level.

    any advice would be much appreciated! I'll post more information after I've got more measurements etc tomorrow.

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    According to most descriptions Soldiers Hill, which is where the property is, is made up mostly alluvial sediments... Also, another point, in the image above there's a pretty significant 'dip' in the centre of the outer perimeter brickwork (brown in the picture). When crawling around under the property the other day I did notice what appeared to be a crack in the ground too...

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    I am by no means an expert in this area, so take any suggestions as such.

    Drew a few lines on your plan correct me if this is wrong.
    floor.jpg
    The OFP is based under the centre of the house, well away from the affects of moisture, unless you have had flooding under the house.
    Measurements between the OFP and the major extent of the blue exterior (brick ?) wall are pretty close, the brick wall (red) that is shown above has had groundworks done with the effect of directing water towards it and is showing signs of damp ? (have I got this right).

    I am thinking the OFP and blue brick wall would be a better reference than the zero point that you have got marked.

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    Quote Originally Posted by droog View Post
    I am by no means an expert in this area, so take any suggestions as such.

    Drew a few lines on your plan correct me if this is wrong.

    The OFP is based under the centre of the house, well away from the affects of moisture, unless you have had flooding under the house.
    Measurements between the OFP and the major extent of the blue exterior (brick ?) wall are pretty close, the brick wall (red) that is shown above has had groundworks done with the effect of directing water towards it and is showing signs of damp ? (have I got this right).

    I am thinking the OFP and blue brick wall would be a better reference than the zero point that you have got marked.
    mate you're a legend and a scholar! You've gotten that spot on and with the thought that the moisture could be causing the soil to swell I cast a new set of eyes on the job this morning (almost like the bottle of red you suggested) and everything fits for some moisture impacts on the red line side of the plan... So I'll ignore my high point with the hope that when I get the drainage sorted it should settle a little and work off the OFP which, as you mentioned, is quite close to a spot on the brick wall on the blue line. There is some very slight dip toward the front from level I the brick wall (blue line) but I should be able to lift that very slightly without impacting on the bolts holding the frame to the wall.

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    You can just pack up your joists with strips of Masonite packers instead of liftting if its only a few mm

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    Quote Originally Posted by Optimus View Post
    You can just pack up your joists with strips of Masonite packers instead of liftting if its only a few mm
    Thanks mate, most are a decent lift - some I'll be needing to put another brick in top - the 47mm pack for example already has 44mm of packer in place we're going to add on in a few years so when we do the full reno done I'll have more a look at the footings etc. off to see Max now to get some packers

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