As structures of homes age, problems will begin to surface. Some of the issues with your old home will need small repairs, such as replacing rotten wood or other maintenance repairs. More serious issues like settling foundations, failing supports or storm damage require more work and are costlier to repair. Dealing with foundation problems that cause structural damage is a common issue when renovating older homes. Here are some of the foundation problems that cause structural damage:
1. Poor Foundations That Lack Good Footings That Support Structural Loads
Foundations are the most important element of the structure of your home. The footings, piers and other components of the foundation are what support the entire structure above. Sometimes, the concrete or masonry work that supports the foundation is poorly done, which can cause structural problems once a home is built. To correct these problems, structural footings, pier supports and other solutions can be used to give a structure the support it needs.
2. Soft Soils and Settling That Cause Foundation and Structural Damage to Homes
Many areas are developed over soft soils, which is often due to coastal areas with sedimentary soils, such as Houston, coastal areas of the Carolinas or river sediment along some of America's largest waterways. In these areas, homes settle in the soils and this often causes serious foundation problems. For an isolated settling problem at one load bearing point, pier jacking techniques are used by driving metal or concrete pier support deep into the Earth until they hit solid bedrock. Homes that have more widespread settling problems are usually repaired using post-tension concrete or soil jetting techniques, which are more practical.
3. Homes That Predate Building Codes and Have Structural Design Problems
The structural problems and issues with your foundation could be due to it being built before building codes or because there is no building authority where you live. The problem of homes that do not meet building code standards is common in rural areas and historic homes in more developed areas. If you have a building authority in your area, consult with them and a structural engineer to bring your home up-to-date with modern building standards. If you do not have an authority than governs building standards where you live, contact a private home inspection service or structural engineer to help with repairs and renovations.
When renovating an older home, these are some of the foundation and structural problems that you are likely going to face. Contact a structural engineer to help with inspecting problems and planning an acceptable solution to correct problems and ensure your home is updated to meet modern building standards.