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buying a bungalow... typical issues need input


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My wife and I are buying a bungalow in the heights (built in 1925). Although it is fairly level, the inspector advised getting it releveled (some of the piers are leaning). The problem is the ground is built up around the sides of the house a good bit, so access to beneath is quite difficult. There is also currently some drainage issues (water is pooling under the house). I'd like to take care of the leveling and drainage at the same time. Any input on who to use?

Also found signs of termite damage but it was very old damage and only in a small contained area. The inspector found no other signs of termite damage, nor any signs of active termites. It seems that a prior owner must have treated the problem. What are your thoughts?

any advice on dealing with lead based paint? I'd mostly be concerned with window sills (places kids would chew). No immediate concerns (no kids for at least 4 years) but it is something i'll need to address in the future.

btw, this is our first house, and we are looking forward to getting our hands dirty. Any other heads up would be greatly appreciated!

Curt

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My wife and I are buying a bungalow in the heights (built in 1925). Although it is fairly level, the inspector advised getting it releveled (some of the piers are leaning). The problem is the ground is built up around the sides of the house a good bit, so access to beneath is quite difficult. There is also currently some drainage issues (water is pooling under the house). I'd like to take care of the leveling and drainage at the same time. Any input on who to use?

this sounds somewhat similar to my situation. the house leveller i used wouldn't begin to level the house until the drainage issue under the house was resolved otherwise it would shift again. i ended up having to remove dirt from around the house so i could get a slight incline away from the house. then gutters along with an underground drainage setup will channel the water away. for the worst portion, i also installed a few yard drains at the bottom of the "new' incline i dug out. if for some reason both gutter downstops become clogged, the water would theoretically fall onto the new incline and into the yard drains.

you have a BIG task ahead of you.

Also found signs of termite damage but it was very old damage and only in a small contained area. The inspector found no other signs of termite damage, nor any signs of active termites. It seems that a prior owner must have treated the problem. What are your thoughts?

this is common, but having constant moisture under the house is a boon to termites. good luck.

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My wife and I are buying a bungalow in the heights (built in 1925). Although it is fairly level, the inspector advised getting it releveled (some of the piers are leaning). The problem is the ground is built up around the sides of the house a good bit, so access to beneath is quite difficult. There is also currently some drainage issues (water is pooling under the house). I'd like to take care of the leveling and drainage at the same time. Any input on who to use?

Also found signs of termite damage but it was very old damage and only in a small contained area. The inspector found no other signs of termite damage, nor any signs of active termites. It seems that a prior owner must have treated the problem. What are your thoughts?

any advice on dealing with lead based paint? I'd mostly be concerned with window sills (places kids would chew). No immediate concerns (no kids for at least 4 years) but it is something i'll need to address in the future.

btw, this is our first house, and we are looking forward to getting our hands dirty. Any other heads up would be greatly appreciated!

Curt

I have a 1920s bungalow in the Heights, could probably stand some leveling. Last summer I had sand graded under the house to deal with the ponding and it has remained effective. Total cost for materials and labor...$600. Well worth it just in the lessening of mosquitoes. The owner prior to me treated the house for termites and I have not seen a return of termites (8 years). I have loved my bungalow and have found it to be worth each second and dollar I have invested. Welcome to the neighborhood!

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I've been frequenting that site, as well as all the write ups on thisoldhouse. I love that i can come online here and get responses from people who actually live in the heights (or surrounding neighborhoods).

EMME, thanks for the idea on sand, i'll definitely look into that! I think my other first step will be to put up some gutters. I hate the look of traditional gutters but i've found some pretty decent copper looking ones that have decorative brackets for the exposed rafters. Any ideas where i can track down an old wine barrel to use as a rain bucket.

Now to discuss with my new neighbor why his fence is claiming 3ft of my yard... lol.

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It seems that a prior owner must have treated the problem. What are your thoughts?

Our previous house had been treated several times for termites, and each time they put a sticker in the fuse box (why there?) with the date, company performing the service, and the type of treatment. I want to say I've seen the same type of stickers underneath the kitchen sink in a home. You might want to look around...

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My wife and I are buying a bungalow in the heights (built in 1925). Although it is fairly level, the inspector advised getting it releveled (some of the piers are leaning). The problem is the ground is built up around the sides of the house a good bit, so access to beneath is quite difficult. There is also currently some drainage issues (water is pooling under the house). I'd like to take care of the leveling and drainage at the same time. Any input on who to use?

Also found signs of termite damage but it was very old damage and only in a small contained area. The inspector found no other signs of termite damage, nor any signs of active termites. It seems that a prior owner must have treated the problem. What are your thoughts?

any advice on dealing with lead based paint? I'd mostly be concerned with window sills (places kids would chew). No immediate concerns (no kids for at least 4 years) but it is something i'll need to address in the future.

btw, this is our first house, and we are looking forward to getting our hands dirty. Any other heads up would be greatly appreciated!

Curt

Something I always tell people to consider in your situation, with the under-house drainage, is to check when your sewer line was replaced...If you can't find any pvc clean-outs anywhere around your yard, you might have the old cast iron (ie. rusty corroded and leaking) sewer line...we discovered this the hard way when we wanted to level our house and could not ever dry it out under there....we did, however, invest in a lovely french drain around and under the house before we discovered the plumbing issue that had been going on for many, many, years without our realizing it (probably was going on for prior owner too)

this guy has some excellent information on do-it-yourself steam paint removal which is one safe way to remove lead based paint. (he also has some great literature on double hung window restoration and other general old-house restoration projects) http://www.historichomeworks.com/hhw/index.htm

Whatever you do, don't do any dry scraping or sanding (of the lead paint) that will release the dust in the air. Read up on safe techniques as much as you can. There is alot of information out there.

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When you are ready to start working on your foundation, I recommend John Pfister Pfisterlevel@gmail.com He's a super-nice guy who does a great job.

Katie

I second the notion on using Pfister. My house was built in 1920 and still has the original plaster (like 1" thick!) in the front room and dining room. Unfortunately, this was also where the tree from Ike fell on our house effectively cantilevering the foundation. There was a 2" difference in height from one side of the kitchen to the wall shared with the dining room. Pfister very carefully leveled the entire house with only the tiniest hairline crack in the plaster above the dining room door. And the price was by far the best of anyone who bid the job. John Pfister is a really nice guy who cares about keeping your old home as solid as possible!

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maybe that is why we didn't see the stickers, the kitchen sink is new. I'll definitely investigate to see if it is the sewer line is still cast iron. I know for sure though that water gets under the house during rain (you can see water lines on the piers). I think some gutters and grading would elimiate most of this, but i'm also looking into doing a french drain, or maybe even a sump to pump any water out of there.

I have a jillion recommendations for Pfister, definitely will be contacting him once i get this draining issue corrected.

thanks again for all the input!

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Regarding termites, many Heights-area houses were treated with chlordane (same chemical family as DDT) in the 60s through the 80s. Chlordane can prevent termites for up to 50 years. So, if you have evidence of old termite infestation, chances are the place was "chlordaned", and you won't have to worry about (ground) termites for a long time.

The greenies will claim chlordane was banned because of negative effects to the environment, but the real reason was that Dow and BASF secretly lobbied to get it banned so they could sell stuff with a much shorter effective life.

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we got the seller to contribute to fixing stuff. excellent!

i'm so excited about moving in to my asbestos sided, lead based painted, woodshingle under shingles, knob and tube wired, termite damaged, improperly draining, damaged foundation home.

lol. It sounds soo bad when i say it that way. I love this neighborhood.

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There is some older wiring in the house, Has anyone here rewired? I was thinking i could maybe rewire it a room at a time to not cost me soo much out of pocket. Any recommendations on who to use?

My house was partially rewired when I bought it. Basically, all of the receptacles were rewired, while the knob and tube remained for the lights. This is actually a good way to do it on a budget, since the lights draw a constant level of electricity and a lower load than many appliances. As I redo things, I replace knob and tube wiring that I come across. I have about 3 rooms worth of it left.

I have an electrician who is wiring my garage for me. He does good work, reasonably priced. Like most electricians, it can be a pain to get him to show up at times. His English is a bit rough at times. If you prefer a higher priced white guy, I have a number for one of them as well. I think the hispanic guy's work is better quality, having watched both, but I like both guys, so I don't care which one you prefer.

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prefer the less expensive route, I'll find a translater if necessary lol. I mostly want to get rid of this knob and tube so i can insulate the attic more.

make sure you and your wife walk thru the place prior to the electrician coming and see what each room is lacking electrically. also try to imagine where your furniture will be in case you have some requirements as a result. I know my rooms didn't have enough plugs and light switches were in the wrong place (or there weren't enough of them). in the end, just make sure the electrician knows all your "wishes" so that you get what you want and not just the knob and tube upgrade.

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Hate to hijack:

does anyone have any references for 'under house' grading...like below?

thx

...Last summer I had sand graded under the house to deal with the ponding and it has remained effective. Total cost for materials and labor...$600.

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we got the seller to contribute to fixing stuff. excellent!

i'm so excited about moving in to my asbestos sided, lead based painted, woodshingle under shingles, knob and tube wired, termite damaged, improperly draining, damaged foundation home.

lol. It sounds soo bad when i say it that way. I love this neighborhood.

This is so my house. Well, my wiring is updated and I don't think I have foundation problems, but I appreciate the sentiment. It took a while for me before the flaws quit sticking out so much. Ike made a big difference in that regard. My house went through it like a champ. Just keep reminding yourself that only a really good house would still be here.

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  • 3 weeks later...

Okay i closed on the house and i'm starting to move in! My wife and I are really excited about it.

The very first thing i want to do is correct the drainage. Anyone got a suggested person/company for me to call to get an estimate? If i was to add french drains /drain tiles what is the rule with the land between the road and the walkway? I'm on Pecore, and i noticed that every house has a hole drilled in the curb on the western edge of their property line. There is also some fresh marker paint. Any clue what that is? Can i use it for drainiage?

Thanks,

Curt

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Okay i closed on the house and i'm starting to move in! My wife and I are really excited about it.

The very first thing i want to do is correct the drainage. Anyone got a suggested person/company for me to call to get an estimate? If i was to add french drains /drain tiles what is the rule with the land between the road and the walkway? I'm on Pecore, and i noticed that every house has a hole drilled in the curb on the western edge of their property line. There is also some fresh marker paint. Any clue what that is? Can i use it for drainiage?

Thanks,

Curt

rule??? u need to do what helps you to correct any issue you have. i will add that the city wants you do get a permit should you decide to cut into a curb. i had to do this and put in schedule 40 pipe. when the inspector saw that, he said there's no need to look at the rest of the piping.

Edited by musicman
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what if the curb is already cut? Every single house on my block has a hole drilled in the curb (i'd assume for drainage). Do i need a permit to dig in the grass between the sidewalk and street? I'm also going to go under the walkway. I was planning to run sch. 40 to the "drain hole" that is already in the curb.

The main issue is getting water to not run under the house. Years of roof runoff without gutters has sloped the ground toward the crawlspace.

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what if the curb is already cut? Every single house on my block has a hole drilled in the curb (i'd assume for drainage). Do i need a permit to dig in the grass between the sidewalk and street? I'm also going to go under the walkway. I was planning to run sch. 40 to the "drain hole" that is already in the curb.

The main issue is getting water to not run under the house. Years of roof runoff without gutters has sloped the ground toward the crawlspace.

had to do the same thing and yes city required a permit. most people don't get one though. i wasn't going to til a nosey person got involved.

Edited by musicman
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  • 8 months later...

Regarding termites, many Heights-area houses were treated with chlordane (same chemical family as DDT) in the 60s through the 80s. Chlordane can prevent termites for up to 50 years. So, if you have evidence of old termite infestation, chances are the place was "chlordaned", and you won't have to worry about (ground) termites for a long time.

The greenies will claim chlordane was banned because of negative effects to the environment, but the real reason was that Dow and BASF secretly lobbied to get it banned so they could sell stuff with a much shorter effective life.

It's an environmental estrogen, like Bisphenol A. Not good stuff to have around.

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