historic home foundations repair

Historical homes, also referred to as Vintage, have good bones! They are full of character, are uniquely styled, and always full of charm. On the downside, they can show the signs of aging. Especially in the foundations. In fact, the mere mention of foundation repair in an older home can seem daunting. The truth is that it doesn’t have to be and should be one of the first things inspected if one hopes to renovate or merely maintain an older home.

Older structures have their own set of unique issues. In some cases, the ground they are built upon may not have been stable and, as a result, the foundation may have shifted. Another issue is the materials used. This may be a case of extremes – either the materials are superior or substandard. Substandard materials don’t stand the test of time well. Poor drainage is also a common issue with older structures.

The Good News

The good news is that, in most cases, historic foundations can be repaired! Because you have a historical home (ahem, meaning older), you will want to hire a foundation contractor that has experience in foundation repairs in historic buildings. It’s important to note, that the foundation is inspected prior to beginning any major or expensive renovation. The state of your foundation will determine if the other renovation(s) are feasible.

As with newer structures, the warning signs of foundations issues are similar to ones we’ve discussed in earlier blogs. As a reminder, the three major warning signs are:

  • Doors and windows that stick or don’t shut properly
  • Cracks above doors and windows
  • Visible bulges or “dips” in the foundation walls

The Process

The home will need to be lifted in order for the contractor to remove or replace parts of the foundation. It’s likely that areas will need to be replaced and you will want any repairs or replacements to retain the original look of the structure.   Your contractor will document the original foundation and take photos.  Pass along any original architect plans to use as reference during the repairs. The contractor will strive to match the original look and any help you can give them is greatly appreciated.

Newer buildings have poured concrete foundations whereas older ones were likely constructed of stones or bricks. Some of the bricks or stones may be salvageable and can be reused; some may not. No worries, your contractor will either find new bricks or stones that match or find a suitable solution.

Now is a good time to visually check the foundation of your historic home. We are experienced in historic foundation issues and are happy to answer any questions and give your foundation a thorough inspection. Remember, early detection of an issue can result in less of a repair!