Estimate of the Day 9/16/2019 – Stone Steps, Stucco and Structural Repair

Settlement Issue Leads to Need for Minor Foundation, Waterproofing and Structural Repairs

The homeowner contacted me regarding cracks they saw adjacent to their front entry stairs.

From my perspective, this is a sign of potential need for structural repairs or drainage problems that commonly affect these structures. Settlement cracks indicate there is movement below, which has different potential causes.

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Settlement cracks indicate movement

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Lower stairs

The landing butts up against a large stucco wall, but it is not anchored to it or properly waterproofed. Water is getting into the wall damaging framing, and stucco sheathing has rotted (lower left) exposing the building paper behind it. Drainage repairs and proper waterproofing can prevent future damage to framing.

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Stucco sheathing has rotted

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More rot due to failing waterproofing at the lower stairs.

The form of waterproofing back in the day (when these were built) was Kraft paper or building paper, with a limited life span. Not helpful when most of the homes we work on were built almost 100 years ago. You can see the thin building paper with the stucco exposed behind it. Our current waterproofing on horizontal surfaces is a bituthene membrane, much thicker with a substantial lifespan. New stucco has a double layer of paper and wire.

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Foundation too close to ground level

You can see that the foundation at the front side of the stairs and landing is only a few inches above grade and is crumbling, leading to settlement. When foundations are this close to the ground level there is often damage to the mud sill and framing at the base of the wall due to saturation from the ground.

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4"x4" beam insufficient and out of level

More damage to the sheathing where the central landing meets the upper stairs. Note the 4”x4” beam supporting this interior corner. This should be a more substantial beam, and it is out of level indicating movement.

Conclusion

This entry needs some work, but not a complete re-build as the upper stairs and landing are intact. I would replace the front foundation, rebuild the central landing and lower stairs with new pressure-treated framing, sheathing waterproofing and stucco, and replace the stonework to match the adjacent remaining material. And is often the case, the metal railings are not up to code and will need to be replaced.

Foundation Contractor in Oakland - Serving the Greater East Bay Area

Jim Gardner Construction Inc. is a local foundation, drainage, and retaining wall contractor serving Berkeley, Oakland, Alameda, El Cerrito, Moraga, Piedmont and much of the East Bay Area. Older homes in the Bay Area often have foundation and drainage problems that need to be addressed and we pride ourselves in providing long lasting solutions to your structural, hillside stabilization and drainage problems. Call (510) 655-3409 today or request an estimate from our website.

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