bought an old house (90 years old)

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I have an acquaintance that is getting ready to do a massive amount of waterproofing. Already has contracts signed. I visited him a few days and he mentioned it. My response was that his deck is the problem.
He has had the place for 20 years, when he got the place the original deck was there, he just kept it in good repair.
When grass gets cut, decays, becomes compost, becomes dirt, the ground height rises. But not where the deck keeps grass from growing. So without even measuring, I told him that the ground was low next to his foundation, and any rain that went through the deck had nowhere to go except towards the foundation to show up at the basement sump pump.
Well, he wanted me to be wrong, and used a string level to measure. No surprise, I was right. The ground below the door from the deck was nearly 3 inches lower than at the stairs to the deck. The deck is 15x30, that's almost 500 square feet of collecting area with a predictable drainage path.
All structures need a positive slope away from the structure. Just reminding.
And what I suggested is a different story.

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On 1/15/2011 11:45 PM, Michael B wrote:

Was the deck built when the house was? Many decks, especially the ones within a couple feet of ground level, have the original concrete patio buried underneath them. And as we have discussed many times on here, concrete patios love to frost heave, so that they actually tilt toward the house. Put a deck over that heaved concrete (plus do like my idiot previous owner did and put a raised flower bed around the deck), and you have created a situation where there is almost always a giant mosquito breeding pond trapped against the top of foundation.
--
aem sends...

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i do not have deck
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Good points, and very close to the situation. As I recall, there had been a small porch with very bad surface spalling, and instead of replacing it, the previous owner had gone for a huge deck. So most of the ground under it is dirt, and low. As for the mosquito breeding pond, it's been my experience that the water manages to migrate down along the foundation.
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previous owner walked away because there is no way to fix the brack in the basement!! wow that is so scary thought and i really hope not. i saw a hole beside the outside basement window and i right away though that the water must be coming from there.
i do not have an experience with repairing old houses and i wish i can find some honest contracter like what you mention Mike Holmes but how to find that person? Do you recomend anyone? do you know anyone? I live in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. thanks a lot once again
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?

Relax. Sure, a 90 year old house may need repairs, but it has stood for 90 years already and another 90 or 180 is not our of the question. My son's house was built in 1752 so by comparison, yours is quite young.
Some water problems are serious, others are not such a big deal, like an open window. Once you move into the house and get a heavy rain, you can see if it is just a matter of grading or sealing windows, or routing drains from the gutters away from the house.
Finding a good home repair contractor is not easy. Talk to friends, coworkers, neighbors to see if they have used anyone local.
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Second that thought - Find a friend who knows about repairs, an avid do-it-yourself person, ask around. Most of us who do these things ourselves are happy to pass on information to newbies like yourself. We have a lady, named Kate, who jumped into this group fairly recently, asking a lot of reasonable questions and who got a lot of very good responses and has now done a lot of repairs from what her posting indicate. But, please re-read your postings before sending them out, and use spell-check. I really did have trouble understanding some of your posting because the language/spelling was so far off.
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On 1/16/2011 10:52 AM, Ed Pawlowski wrote:

Agreed- didn't mean to panic Leza like that. But the main point is to have somebody who knows what they are doing look at the place before spending any serious money. A good home inspector (if there is such a thing), or a good general contractor, can walk through the place, and in a couple of hours come up with a better diagnosis and possible cures, than we can do remotely sight unseen. Basement water problems could be major, or they could be trivial to fix. I have seen people drop $100,000 remodeling the upstairs of a place that had little or no foundation left under it. THAT is what you want to avoid. Good foundation to hold it up, then a good roof to keep it dry, and then move on to everything else.
--
aem sends...

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wrote:

I'd second that. Unless the roof is leaking, look at the foundation first. Toronto does not have a lot of snow on the ground yet, so check drainage levels If sloped towards the house you can still get a load of soil delivered and bank up to the foundation.By next week that may not be an option. Second priority is the roof - UNLESS the siding is insul-brick - which will neeed to be removed before you can get insurance.
Then check the wiring and plumbing. If Knob and Tube, you do need to replace it - no insurance company doing business in Toronto will take it on as a new account with Knob and Tube. Check the plumbing too. If it is still galvanized iron pipe and a cast iron sewer stack, you will need to replace all of that as well. Go with plastic drain/sewer. For the water piping you can use PEX or other non-copper piping, but in my opinion, copper plumbing is still better value long-term and I'd spend the extra and have copper installed.
All of this will involve opening some walls and working in the attic - so you want it ALL done before insulating anything. If the siding is being replaced it is often most cost effective to insulate from the outside - cavity fill insulation (blown or poured) or foam board on the exterior under the new siding both work well. However, if you need to do a lot of interiour tear-out, stripping the outside walls and installing new Batt insulation, then new dry-wall is often the best way to go. This allows you to install proper vapour barrier etc while you are at it.
Now this all hinges a bit on the neighbourhood. If it is a rough part of town, making your house the best on the street might not be, financially, a sound investment. If, on the other hand, most of the neighbourhood has been renovated and yours is one of the poorer buildings on the street, bringing it up to standard will greatly increase the value, and it is well worth spending a bit extra to make things top quality. Don't waste money on frills that you can add later - just get it solid, straight, tight and clean. If and when you have walls open, think ahead and make sure you get everything into the walls that you may want in the next 5 - 10 years - things like TV cable, phone lines, etc cost VERY little to install now, and are a real job after everything is insulated and finished.
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leza wang wrote:

A lot of this so much depends on your standards for a house if you want to modernize it or keep it original, if you intend to live in it (and a woman is involved) or you bought it to fix and sell and what part of the country it's located. I bought the old house I'm living in about 25 years ago. It's probably about 100 years old now. A little dirt work might do wonders for the water in the basement. Make sure surface water drains away from the house. Next how level are the floors? Depending on the soil and the foundation you might need to give that some attention, maybe a lot of attention. The roof must be in good shape, no leaks allowed! The wiring, if it is knob and tube then you need to address that, and you won't be able to do much insulating in the attic until you do, do not cover knob and tube wiring with insulation. The electrical service for our town is now a minimum of 200 amps and that might be required when you get into the wiring upgrade. The plumbing is probably the easiest in some ways, just replace the old water lines. Everything I've done to this house I did with repairs in mind. Any major work, best get square with code enforcement, they might have something to say about the way you do things. Windows? You might be surprised how tight an old set of wood windows properly repaired and sealed can be. Depending on where you live lead paint might be an issue and a very expensive issue. I have a feeling you are going to learn a whole lot about old houses before you are through with this. If you bought it to fix an sell keep in mind what the lending agencies require before they will loan money to a buyer. Good luck
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1st thing, hire a translator.
--
Often wrong, never in doubt.

Larry Wasserman - Baltimore Maryland - lwasserm(a)sdf. lonestar. org
  Click to see the full signature.
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On Jan 16, 7:49am, snipped-for-privacy@sdf.lNoOnSePsAtMar.org (Larry W) wrote:

well english is my second language and i admit i need to improve but at least i can communicate. your comment is harsh and not needed really. if you did not like my post, just ignore it and move on.
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On 1/15/2011 7:34 PM, leza wang wrote:

Old houses are often quite strong, but they also can have problems that have festered for years. Certainly foundations are built differently now.
Take care of anything to do with water. Find out why the basement is getting wet. Check to see if you have any water damage inside from the roof. Then make sure you have no plumbing leaks.
I would not worry now about the carpet or the fake brick front. Blowing in insulation in the attic is cheap and easy. Putting in insulation in walls should be a priority as no amount of attic insulation will compensate for uninsulated walls, which is common in a 90 year old house. Fix any drafts.
Make sure the wiring is safe.
Stabilize any problems. You may need a new roof or plumbing, but you can temporarily patch a roof or fix a leak until the real fix can be done.
As far as why the previous owner walked away, the most common reason is money. A lot of people bought homes as an investment, then found out they could not afford their investment.
Most recently occupied houses can be fixed. Unoccupied derelict buildings can deteriorate so fast they can be uneconomical to repair.
Jeff

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