Complete House Collapses (after roof falls in)

There is an old farm house on my property that has not been lived in for many years. I have been living in the newer house on the same property, but was planning to rebuild the old (original) house.
During the winter the snow on the roof (the part of the roof over the living room and one bedroom) caused the roof to settle in the middle and push off the walls on both the front and rear of the house. In other words, the ridge apparently broke apart and both halves of the roof came off the walls. The roof was originally 9 to 10 feet at the ridge down to the the attic floor and had a small 8 inch overhang at the rain gutters. After the roof settled, it was only about 4 feet to the ridge, but the overhangs were sticking out about 3 to 4 feet on both the the front and rear of the house.
Another heavy snow storm fell, and caused the roof to completely flatten, and the overhanging parts on the front and rear were then sticking out about 7 feet.
That's when tragedy struck. The overhanging front part of the roof broke off and fell on to another bedroom and the bathroom roof, which was a much flatter roof, and was an addition built later. The weight of the main roof caused the bedroom and bathroom roof to collapse and took down the front wall of that addition in the process, completely destroying those two rooms, leaving debris all over the lawn in front.
If that's not bad enough, the rear part of the main roof fell inward on the attic floor, crushing everything stored in the attic.
But this is not the end of the story. As the snow began to melt, and water was pouring down into the living room, the attic floor (living room ceiling), fell down into the living room, with the roof on top of it. At this point the attic floor with all contents was suspended about 5 feet above the living room floor with all the furniture in the living room holding up this floor, with the remaining top of the main roof resting on top.
However, it dont stop there. Last week I heard a loud crash during the night. The following day I was looking for a fallen tree, or ???? Whatever made the noise. Nothing could be found. On Saturday I was walking past that old house, when I noticed thru the window that something looked unusual. I opened the door and found that the weight of all of this had caused the living room floor to collapse into the basement.
Now the original roof sits about eye level in the living room, the attic floor seems to have gotten wedged about 2 feet above the original lower level floor, and has forced the front wall of the house off the foundation, which is now just sort of suspended there. All of the contents and furniture that was in there is crunched between all the sections of floors and roofs.
Yet, although the entire inside of the house has fallen down inside, the outer walls still remain standing (except the addition which I have since demolished and removed). So what I now have is a complete shell of a house, with the gables still standing a good 20 feet in the air. The front wall is off the foundation, and yet not even one window broke during all of this.
My problem now, is how the f**k do I tear it apart with 2 floors and a roof all stacked on top of each other, and partly in the basement????
Yea, I know someone will suggest a professional wrecking company, but that is not going to happen, since the money is not there. It's going to come down piece by piece using hand tools, power saws, chainsaw, and my farm tractor and log chains to remove large pieces at once. I know now that there is no saving this house, but I cant just leave it standing either because it's going to collapse the rest of the way and someone could get hurt. It cant be burned either since it's too close to my newer house, two sheds, and an LP tank.
But I keep asking myself which is the best way to safely collapse it. I should mention that the kitchen part of that house was a separate piece and that roof is still standing, but it's attached to that same front wall which is now off the foundation, and I noticed that part of that roof is not detached from that front wall too.
Yesterday I took a chainsaw and widened the old bathroom door into a 6 foot wide door, and was able to pull out a few pieces of furniture and some other stuff that was between the layers, and this included a whole stack of window glass, of which not one piece was broken. I also got the old bathtub out, and cut the power wires going to the building.
I guess I never realized just how poorly this building was constructed. Each 2x10 floor joist in the attic floor was held with one nail to the 2x4 walls. These are the old square nails too. It appears that the weight of the roof on that floor caused those nails to break, and there was no wood under them. That attic floor came down, pushed the front wall off the foundation as it came down, and that brought down the first floor, floor into the basement.
I cant say I've ever seen this sort of thing happen...... I am taking photos as it comes apart and as I rip it apart. I think what kept it together is the newest addition on the back, which was build somewhere in the 1960s. That room, a 10x12 room is of much newer construction, and at this point, is the only solid part that remains. Aside from needing sone roof work where it detached from the main house, and of course missing one wall, I might try to save that room and turn it into a storage shed.
The part that pisses me off the most, is that somewhere between all that collapsed stuff, lies my rotatiller. I kept it in there as a place to store it, and I cant even see it between all that rubble. Apparently it rolled on it's wheels and went to the lowest part of the collapse. So much for that....
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snipped-for-privacy@toyotamail.com wrote:

[...]
Burn it.
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wrote:

Call the local fire company-- They might be happy to use it for a training day.
Jim
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put some chains between windows and pull it over with a backhoe
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snipped-for-privacy@toyotamail.com wrote in

Of course it can be burned. By professionals.
Call your local fire department, and offer it to them as a training exercise. They'll probably jump at the chance, and you'll have plenty of trained professionals there to keep everything else safe. Putting out fires is only half of firefighting -- the other half is keeping them from spreading to other structures. Get the pros involved. They know what they're doing.
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That might be safer than trying to disassemble. The EPA, FD, and a couple other TLA may be concerned.
I was going to suggest a Sawzall, and lot of name brand blades. I've found the sawzall blades from Harbor Freight don't last very long. Home Depot has some "destruction" blades which are good.
Christopher A. Young Learn more about Jesus www.lds.org .
wrote:
Burn it.
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On Fri, 23 Mar 2012 04:30:56 -0600, snipped-for-privacy@toyotamail.com wrote Re Complete House Collapses (after roof falls in):

Would it be possible to rent a bulldozer and push the wreckage far enough away from other structures to be able to burn it?
--
Work is the curse of the drinking class.

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I guess you missed the part where he talked about how much of it dropped into the basement?
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On Fri, 23 Mar 2012 06:52:13 -0500, HeyBub wrote:

That seems like a sensible answer. It's either that, or lots of termites, woodpeckers and wasps... :-)
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On 3/23/2012 4:30 AM, snipped-for-privacy@toyotamail.com wrote:

Do nym shifters post real information?
This is a home repair forum. We expect you to repair the house. With 7 comealongs, 4 post jacks, and 3 weekends of work the house should be as good as before.
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wrote:

And, considering the original construction, it would last another 3 weekends before falling down again.
Tomsic
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Most "old farmhouses" are constructed in a manner that makes a new McMansion look like a restroom stall. It's sad to hear of one's demise, because it's definitely true that "they don't make 'em like that anymore" and that's not a Good Thing.
nate
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I don't have much advise but to be very careful trying to tear it apart. If you can't get pros in to do it, I like the idea of renting a backhoe and at least crushing it into a form where further collapse is unlikely while you're in/near the thing.
On Mar 23, 6:30am, snipped-for-privacy@toyotamail.com wrote:

I'd love to see how the roof was constructed that allowed this first failure to happen (which obviously led to the rest of the collapse)...
Did the ridge collapse inward, or did the floor of the attic split?
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My guess would be that it was scratch built and did not use trusses, so if the rafters were not securely tied to the walls then it might have just FDGB that way. Last house I lived in had a scratch built roof with the pairs of rafters tied together below the ridge only by a single 2x4. Depending on the age and location of the house the roof might well have been slate, too.
'course it's easy to armchair from a distance - I'm just speculating.
nate
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On Fri, 23 Mar 2012 11:28:34 -0700 (PDT), Larry Fishel

Yep. the ridge just dropped inward. I dont think the rafters were attached to the top plate very wall. They are not trusses. Most of it came toward the front because on the rear is the room that was added last, and the part I'm going to try to save. That roof formed two valleys (sort of like a gable). The flashing ramained on that addition and is now just suspended in the air. When I get the house down and hopefully save that room, I think I'll leave that angle on the roof as an interesting looking large overhang.
For those that asked, it was not a slate roof it was cedar with shingles over them.
One other thing, this was not a truss style even stick built. The roof was nailed to the top plate of the walls, and the attic floor was down about 24 to 30" below the walls. Those 2x8's were just nailed to the wall 2x4s with one nail each. I believe this is what is called a hip wall (is that correct term?). So, because of that, the edges of the roof did not have the cross members attached to the rafters to keep them from pushing outward. In looking over the whole thing, I really think the main problem that caused the collapse was mostly caused by a lack of using enough nails. If I build something like that, each floor joist would have at least 3 nails on each end on those 2x8 joists, and I will generally put a stub (scrap) of 2x4 under at least every third one. Those roof joists would have one of those metal hurricane fastners on the ends too, plus several nails, not just one. But this place was probably built around 1900 (those old square nails tell me so). Back then, they did not have those metal hurricane fastners, but I still think they used too few nails, and that was the cause of the total collapse. I also know those square nails are brittle and will snap easier than a modern nail. This is only a guess, but it appears that it did not come down real fast. My guess is that the momentum started the collapse, those nails began to break, and thats when the front wall got pushed off the foundation, which cause the rest of that attic floor to drop. Grooves in the plaster walls suggest this is what happened.
Either way, it's history now!!!
I doubt there will even be enough salvagable materials to add a 10ft. wide wall to that part I want to save. Upon removing that front addition, I salvaged two 8ft 2x4's That's all. Those appeared to have been added to the bathroom wall at a much later date, probably to mount the hanger to hang the sink.
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snipped-for-privacy@toyotamail.com wrote:

Would renting a nice big hydraulic excavator and operator for an hour or so break the bank? Around here - central Florida - that could be as low as $75/hr plus maybe $100-150 for delivery and pickup. That would get it all down so you could start cutting into pieces.
--

dadiOH
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On Fri, 23 Mar 2012 14:57:24 -0700 (PDT), JIMMIE

Well, he got his window...... A HUGE Window :)
Trying to picture this got me laughing.... I can just see the construction guy cussing, and the woner ready to kill the bastard.
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On Fri, 23 Mar 2012 14:57:24 -0700 (PDT), JIMMIE

home as he had decided a nice window would look better in its place. The house was a 1600 sqft ranch with cathedral ceilings in master bedroom and great room. When the contractor took down the chimney the whole wall on that side of the house blew out and then the rest of the house collapesed.

You have to be careful with this stuff. Sometimes it's best to get a structural engineer in to scope it out. In about 1980 I tore off the siding, walls, windows, stairs, and the three 6x6" 24' legs of the enclosed back porch of my brick 2-flat in Chicago. The middle leg had rotted under the heavy asphalt siding, and the entire porch was sagging a couple inches in the middle. No leg had good footing so I decided to do them all, and convert to railed open porches.
Cut real measurement 2 1/2 x 4 1/2 inch elm dunnage and T'ed it to support the 6 floor and roof bearing lookouts. Ground to bottom of 1st floor lookout, top of 1st to bottom of 2nd, top of 2nd to bottom of roof lookouts. Had to cut out the T&G flooring back to the first inside joist to get at the lookouts.
Jacked the middle up with a big screw jack to get it all level before I cut the elm supports to fit. Nailed cleats around them. For the corner the stairs were tied to I adjusted a HD 40' Werner ladder to fit tight under the lookout with wedges, cleating that, and staking the bottom. Then I tore everything off and stacked it up in the back yard.. Took me about 3 days of after-work labor for the tear-off.
I had adult tenants upstairs and told them to stay off the porch until I was done. Tied another Werner to the second floor in case of fire. I figured it would take me about 2 weeks of after-work to get it back together. It looked really weird. Massive porch seemingly hanging in the air. You could easily see it from the alley.
The day after I got it all hanging there, a guy and his son were killed in Chicago trying to fix the foundation of their house. Don't know the details, just that it was a big old 2-story frame with a local tavern on the first floor. House tipped over and crushed both of them.. Had to be demolished. Huge stink in newspapers and on TV about non-permitted work. Oh Shit! moment for me that lasted some days.
I had the footings poured, new timbers in, new stair cases made, and the railings up in about 5 days. Took 2 days vacation from work. All by myself, except had a brother come over and help me hoist the 2-timber corner post. Can't believe I did all that so fast. Can't believe I didn't have it come crashing down on me. Can't believe that part never worried me at all. Mostly the ladder holding up that corner. Very heavy roof. Can't believe I was so stupid. I chalk it up to luck now. Might just be living to a ripe age has you seeing luck differently. If you're dead luck means nothing. Seems a construction contractor shouldn't depend on luck. How did all that work out? Hope the contractor had good insurance.
--Vic
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Reading this makes me glad I dont live in any city. I'll stick to the country life, where I dont have others telling me how to live, when to take a shit, and requiring a piece of paper for every goddamn thing I do. People create all these laws thru their politicians and all they end up doing is screwing themselves in the end. I'm sure in the city this house would have been required to be demolished years ago. To me, it was never a problem.
I fell thru the porch floor a few days after I bought the place. It looked solid, but was not. I demolished the porch after that, and just stacked up some concrete blocks for steps. After all, I had no intention of living in there, it was just a place to store stuff, but I always wanted to restore the place to it's original glory. Of course there were many other priorities, since this was my new home, and the house I lived in, and barn needed some fixing. I did tar some holes in the roof on that old house a few times, and tinned over a hole where critters were getting in, but that was over a decade ago.
Somehow in the past two years the place seemed to just fall apart. First a 5 ft. section of the old stone basement walls just fell in one day. Then an external block chimney began leaning outward, and I was afraid it would fall on someone, so I knocked it down. Next the front addition started to fall apart, and my plans were to remove that this year, and only salvage the original house and small rear addition. But all that changed when the roof fell in. I have now removed that front addition entirely. Now the whole place has to come down, except that rear addition which I think is salvagable and will make a good strurdy shed for storage. That's the only part that I know is still sturdy, but I need to get new roofing on it soon, or it too will turn to shit.
Sometimes I think that old buildings are like old people. You get to a certain age, and you just fall apart. That old rock foundation being about 2 feet thick was there for probably over 100 years. Why that one section fell in is beyond me. No tree roots, no machinery being used near it, no flooding, earthquakes or other unusual weather. It just fell in all by itself.
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