It’s been exciting times around here because the time to actually start building has come. It feels good to put things back together after tearing them apart for so long. But…nothing is easy, right? For us, the final challenge before the framing can begin in earnest is leveling the house.
Ninety plus years sitting in soft Florida sand has made for a bit of a saggy house. We knew that was the case from living in it for the past three years. (We had door stops in every room to keep the doors from constantly swinging open.)
The house was high along the central line with the outer walls on each side dipping down. We had jacked up the house in preparation for the footer and block work, but we hadn’t made any real effort to get it level. That meant we ended up with something like this when we started hanging floor joists.
Before we could get started setting everything level, we had to deal with some termite damage on the existing ledger boards. For a view of the damage, check last week’s post. It was so bad that we knew the boards would just crumble in some places eventually. With everything ripped apart, now is the perfect time to deal with this situation. Since taking them out and completely replacing them was not an option (seeing as they are holding up the house and all), we settled for reinforcing them. That meant crawling under the house to sister two pieces of pressure treated lumber to the back of each weak area.
Once that was done, we were ready to attack leveling the house again.
Luckily, the solution to our lack of level came in the form of a $40.00 bottle jack. We started in the front corners and made our way toward the back of the house. It definitely caused some serious creaking and groaning (some from the house and some from us), but we got there in the end.
First, we set the jack near the piers that were sitting low.
Next, we raised it up until a level set on the subfloor showed us we were where we wanted to be. We also checked the floors inside the house to be absolutely certain.
Finally, we shimmed the whole thing in place using pressure treated lumber and stainless steel shims we had cut particularly for this purpose. We had a couple different thicknesses of each at the ready since nothing about this old place is uniform. Below you can how each pier required different shims and also see we added the termite shield that is required by Florida building code.
It was a slow, painstaking process, but it will definitely be worth it when we are setting windows and laying floors.