House foundations: The Magic Post


We bought a new house, a while back now. It has some foundation issues; which we knew about when we bought it. Fixing it all, though not difficult, is a pretty big($$$) job which I have yet to really put a great of thought into.

We have since had a geotechnical report done (here, for the interested), which pretty much confirmed what I thought:

  1. Front of house grounded on shit (well, the topsoil rather than good ground) and the existing foundation should be underpinned
  2. The house has been there for 60+ years: its probably been moving since day 1 and will continue to do so. So it needs fixing at some point, but the slope analysis indicates things are stable no (real) rush.

The Magic Post

Aside from these more global issues, something that has been bothering me is a post on the south-west corner of the house which is supposed to be holding up that corner of the house (as posts ought to do, by nature).

The magic post. The block of wood at the base is Mr Square Driver’s fix. Maybe more on him another time?

The post, a 90x90mm bit of timber was not doing its job. This did not take an expert to see: it was hanging from the bit it was supposed to be supporting and there’s an inch or so of air between its base and the ground.

Consequently one can only surmise that the corner of the house is supported off sky ropes held the mouths of circling winged unicorns (or somehow cantilevers out, probably using the weatherboards, wall lining and roof trusses).

Quite how long it has been like this is anyone’s guess, and it all seems quite happy being so (except floor local to that corner does noticeably dip down).

I’m a structural engineer

I am having a bit a crisis (perhaps its a mid-life crisis?). I am working in a job where I really seem neither to (1) have a point or (2) be used …er… usefully. A by-product of this that I have been stripped of any motivation and confidence.

So, I have taken a bit of time off work (they won’t miss me, they will not even notice I am not there). Fixing the magic column seems to be something I ought to be able to do (the engineering is really engineering 101) and the rest is digging and sawing and hammering and wot-not.

And so I thought I might write how I went about it too >>>

Series NavigationWhat was under the magic post? >>