ultimate foundation failure

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Ok, here is a long story, but one I find interesting. about 7 years ago, when I was still in High School, a group of students went to a house that had been empty and abandoned for about 45 years. I had driven past the house many times, not giving it a second thought, but when told the story, was very intrigued. I didn't personally go into the house at that time, just heard about it. So, they mentioned that they got in through the back of the house where the wall had fallen down and allowed entry inside. So today, I took a drive up as I had been thinking about the house off and on since. To appease my curiosity, I pulled in the driveway and got out of the car. On one of the boarded up windows is a "For Sale By Owner" sign, so I thought that if anyone came and asked, that I would say I am interested in the property. after walking around the front and looking in a window, I walked to the back of the house to my amazement to see all of the walls pretty much intact. I was stumped, because I had seen pictures of people from inside the house. As I'm looking at the house, I'm checking the foundation and the roof, which after 45 years or so, seemed to be in pretty decent shape. the roof as far as I could tell had 1 hole in it but the rest seemed to be ok. I proceeded to the other side of the house and with shock and almost horror found the wall that did indeed fail. It wasn't the side of the house, but the foundation it was sitting on. I couldn't believe my eyes. it was one whole section of the house and around a corner to what looked like an addition. The house seemed to be suspended in mid air as if defying gravity. The floor had given way and allowed the fridge to fall in the basement with it. I then turned around and left the property quickly as that kinda spooked me out. The house is unique in design and shape but at one time had a grand elegance to it. I found a picture on the internet of it from the early 20th century. It looked so beautiful and full of life. Now it is a crumbling death trap ready to burn. So my question is this, what can make a foundation wall collapse from underneath a house like that. the house I am in now is 150 years old with a partial granite/brick foundation. The stupid thing has never shown any sign of failure or deterioration. Can a house really die? or was the wall purposely broken to gain entry? Not really a help question, but mere curiosity.
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On Fri, 3 Sep 2010 21:38:59 -0700 (PDT), camryguy

It could be rebuilt. It's been done before. Jack posts do wonders to hold up walls until a foundation wall is repaired. If it's such a nice place, I bet you could buy it cheap. Then jack it up to stabalize it ASAP and begin the foundation repair. Leave it sit like this much longer and it will come crashing down. Give it new life!!!
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On Sep 4, 2:53 am, snipped-for-privacy@myplace.com wrote:

Well, I'm sure that I could get it cheap. Probably close to nothing, but would never be able to do what it needs in order for it to survive another 100 years. I don't have the financial capabilities to do a project like that yet. Maybe after university, we'll find out!
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On 9/4/2010 8:50 AM, camryguy wrote:

if u get it cheap enough the bank will float the repairs.
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On 9/4/2010 9:47 AM, Red wrote:

(snip)
Unless OP is in one of those rare areas with a housing stock shortage, not real likely. Too many houses that DON'T need major rebuilding out there right now, at cheap prices. One would have to walk in with plans from a contractor, and a real good analysis of the local real estate market, showing that the value of the completed project would be higher than the amount of the loan. Bank won't loan more than they think they can get out of it if they have to repo. All they would likely loan on it right now is land value minus teardown costs, and only that with a clean environmental bill of health. (IOW, no old abandoned oil tank.)
--
aem sends...

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An oil tank never occurred to me. Worth investigating I guess. There isn't one present on the exterior of the property, but in those days, oil tanks were stored in basements. Since the basement is easily accessed, I may go in for a quick peek.
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Well, I went back to the property this evening for a closer inspection of things. The back wall above the missing foundation wall is ready to fall. It is pulling away from the adjoining wall. Looking into some windows that are not boarded up, the house is in rough shape. the ceilings have all collapsed and there is a major mold problem. A closer look at the foundation and there are too many weak places to list. The roof is in desperate shape with a sagging roof line. The property, although at one time gorgeous is now ready for the wrecking ball. I give that house one more year at the most before gravity does what it does best.
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On 9/5/2010 7:46 PM, camryguy wrote:

Do your bit for history. That place where you saw the old photo of when the house was young and healthy- some sort of local historical society? If they keep a house archive (many do), they might like some current photos for their collection. Don't go inside or put yourself at risk or anything, but give them a call and see if they have somebody you can send some digital snaps to.
The house may surprise you- I've seen houses abandoned close to a century, that were still recognizable as houses. Abandoned barns can last even longer, since they are more sturdily built.
--
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wrote:

Yea, and i it does have some historic value, maybe the historical society would want to buy it and rebuild it. I'm a farmer, and farmers do sll sorts of things that most city people would not consider. I have jacked up falling buildings, moved entire barns and more. If the wall is coming off, it can be jacked back in place. Fallen plaster is minor compared to the whole project. Mold can be removed, but that depends on the extent of it too. What that place needs now is someone to put jack posts and possibly a stack of railroad ties under the floor (like when they move buildings). Foundations can be rebuilt with block or poured concrete.
It sounds like you would like to see the place saved, but you dont have the funds or DIY skills. Yet, you can try to help save the place by contacting the historical society and other such organizations. If I was nearby and wanted a project, I'd not hesitate to tackle such a job (I guess, not actually seeing photos of it).
I'd like to see photos, you could post them on one of these photo sites (someone else can provide URLs, I never used them).
Also, what state is this in?
Jw
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Well, I went to the local museum yesterday trying to find anything I could about the property and why it was abandoned, but came up with nothing. Its easy enough to put a few jack posts up and rebuild the foundation, but as the house still has an owner, ( I checked the registry office with all taxes being up to date), I'm not about to spend time or money on a house I don't own...yet! There is a For sale by owner sign on the house. I called the number, and left a message, but have heard nothing. As for a historical society, there is one, but they don't have the funding nor do they have the board size to save older properties, which is a shame.
I posted some photos on photobucket with the link up above, I'll include it in this message aswell. It is a beautiful house and one I'd love to see saved. I've heard from people living nearby that they think it would make a great bed and breakfast! Maybe some incentive for the historical society, we'll see.
As for what state, the house is in Nova Scotia Canada, its in a small rural community called Melvern Square.
Here is the link to the picture of the house from 1902: http://www.melvernsquare.ca/history.html Here is the link of the pictures I took today, Sept 6, 2010: http://s1027.photobucket.com/albums/y332/camryguy89 /
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On the Melvern Square website, scroll all the way down to the yellowed picture.
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Well to update. I called the number once again and this time a woman answered. I gave her my name and where I lived, etc. Finally, I ask her this, "My understanding is that you have a property for sale in the Annapolis Valley." Without hesitation, she rudely remarked, "I THINK it has sold." I asked, "Is it sold or not? Don't say I think so, if it isn't." All she said was I think it is. I said to her, well sorry to bother you and proceeded to say goodbye when she said, "You know it needs to be torn down, right?" I said, "Not necessarily, it could be fixed/rebuilt." She said "I won't sell it unless its torn down." I asked her why? She hung up the phone.
Something bad happened in that house for her to leave it and not answer any questions I had. I wasn't trying to pry, all I wanted was to know the asking price. Have I gone too far with this? I don't know. Maybe I'm dwelling on something that is impossible. Is it a sick obsession? or a haunting fascination?
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You could send her a letter about your interest in buying the property.
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The property did sell and is now due for demolition. I wish I would have seen the sign earlier
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On Sun, 5 Sep 2010 16:46:19 -0700 (PDT), camryguy

Sounds like a perfect location for a training session, the local fire department can have a controlled burn.
Hope the owner has good insurance for a possible liability claim.
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If anyone is interested, I want to post some pictures of the house that I took earlier today. However, I have no clue how to do that. If anyone knows/wants to see them, post a reply with some directions. thanks!
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On 9/6/2010 8:19 PM, camryguy wrote:

Go to tinypic.com or photobucket.com, and follow the menus. At some point in the process, it will give you links to the pictures you uploaded. Cut and paste those links into a post back here.
Glad you took pictures, but the place they need to end up is wherever you saw that old photo. Library, historical society, whatever.
--
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Ok, I did it!
Here is the link to the picture of the house from 1902: http://www.melvernsquare.ca/history.html Here is the link of the pictures I took today, Sept 6, 2010: http://s1027.photobucket.com/albums/y332/camryguy89 /
I will be sending the photos to the Melvern Square historical society as well. Actually I have been in contact with the head of the site to see if she knew anything about the property. She said that she would ask at the next meeting! Any information I find out, I will gladly share!
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On the Melvern Square Community Website, scroll to the bottom to find the picture. It is yellowed with writing on it.
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On 9/6/2010 10:22 PM, camryguy wrote:

Ooh, too bad somebody let it go, and that they tore off the fancy porch. Ornate places like that are what historical societies thrive on. But from what I can see in the pictures, I'm pretty sure large portions of the bones are rotted at this point. You can always jack up a house and redo a foundation, but once the roof goes, and water gets into the structure and sits for a few years, it is usually fatal. It COULD be redone, but it would be more like recreating it, and reusing what few pieces aren't rotted away. All that adds up to more money than most historical societies have available, unless they have some very well off corporate patrons. If the inside hasn't been stripped or 'modernized' too badly, an architectural salvage place may want to bid on it just for salvage rights. A 1900s era house had interior fittings and woodwork you simply can't get today.
--
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