Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Front porch

Sunday the Hubs informed me were going to (FINALLY!!!!) tear off the front porch on Monday. Almost three years ago when we first came to look at this house, I was scared to walk across the front porch. It sagged between the stairs and the door and moved more than I liked. However, it was not in the budget or timeline for repair in the 7 weeks we took to gut and renovate the interior.
There were several problems with the porch:
1. The leaning column.
2. The sagging boards under the window air conditioner (which we discovered yesterday weren't even attached anymore because the nails completely rusted through. We didn't even need the crowbar to pry them up.)
3. The Hubs looked on the right side to see why it was sagging and the joists that run parallel to the house were separated from the rim joist on the right side (that runs perpendicular to the house) by at least an inch. That's the side we've always had our adirondack chairs on... It's a wonder we never fell through!
What I like to call the "Leaning column of Kangas"
The 4x4 supports were in place and demo was ready to begin. 
The Hubs started tearing apart the right column, because we expected to see a 4x4 in  the middle of it, but there wasn't. The columns were literally boxes made of 1x. SCARY!
What's even scarier is what we found once we tore into it further:

According to the structural engineer at the office, this was a typical way to build stairs back in the day. It's a little hard to tell, but there are brick and concrete blocks piled up inside the stairs, and then concrete was formed around them. Except about half the brick/CMU had fallen out at some point in the past and was just laying under the porch. Our house was built in the 1930s, but we don't know when the porch was added. The decking was the same as our subfloor, so we wouldn't be surprised if it was original, but I'm not sure wood lasts 80 years in the elements.

Unlike the foundations that I draw for buildings, the porch foundation consisted of a brick on top of three 8x8x8 concrete blocks on top of a 12x12x12 concrete foundation. There was no mortar between the blocks, no anchor bolts or rebar holding the blocks to the ground, and no grout in the blocks. Oh, and there was dirt between the foundation and the first block. Like at least 1/4".

Our porch was literally held up by a brick on each end, supporting a 1x column.
We now have new 4x4 posts in place on the corners, atop a quickrete foundation that extends to the frost line. Currently, our 4x4 braces are still in place, to keep everything steady until the concrete cures.  
Tip for the day: if you don't have a building jack, a car jack works nicely for leveling.
For now we have to get into the house by ladder.
Which I might add is a little difficult when you're headed out the door to work in the morning in heels with a purse, lunch bag and thermos of coffee. But fun. I feel like I'm living in a tree house.

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