1898 balloon framed house with 1st flr, 2nd flr, attic and basement
Base house less single floor additions for porch and kitchen is shaped like a T with both the top and the leg of the T framed seperately. The 1st and 2nd flr of the base house are each about 780 sf.
Confirm that I indeed have a problem and then identify how to mitigate or remediate an apparently severly “botched” job.
In December 2009, I called a number of concrete contractors looking for someone to pour gypcrete onto the floor of my gutted 2nd flr (approximately 780sf). I was looking to do this to accomplish the following:
- level my upstairs floor which was a multileved and patched up do to brken floorboards and out of line due to a previous midwall chimney. (Chimney was removed 4 years ago and and floor was jacked up 2 years ago.
- anchor/sturdy the walls which had become islands after one of the upper layers of floor had been cutaway
- act as a firestop in a balloon framed wall cavities
- add tubing for radiant heat (in this case Watts epdm onix)
Based on my internet reading (yes, I am one of those types of homeowners), I believed that by using the gypcrete I would be getting a self-leveling, lighweight underlayment that would give me clean lines, sturdy walls and thermal mass.
In making the calls, I actually had very few that actually answered their phone or called me back. Of those that I did speak to, either that said that they didn’t know what gypcrete was or that they didn’t do it. One contractor told me he would look into and get back to me. A concrete contractor that had done work for my brother which he was pleased with got back to me and told me he could do the work.
He came in. He put in a wall in downstairs for me and made it a 2x6 to further support the weight of the floor. Which that wall, I basically had load bearing walls on the perimeter of the T, where the the top and leg of the T meet and then 1/2 way (the shorter way) in each section.
On 28Dec2009, the contractor came in, the pumper truck and the cement truck arrived. I had been upstairs over the weekend and had put down some small pieces of 6mil plastic where I thought the material might leak through. He told me that there was fleixble microfibers in the material and that it wouldn’t move that fast. I was surprised given what I had read online but I knew that I didn’t know much about gypcrete, concrete or whatever and I left it to the professional.
When they started to pour (8 yards (1-3" inches), I thought it looked like regular concrete with smaller stone. After a while I asked the guy with the concrete truck (from a large regional distributor) if this was gypcrete. He said he didn’ even know what that was. I asked if it was lightweight or self-leveling. He said no that stuff uses lightweight composites and that this was just regular concrete with pea stone and some type of binder.
At this point, I was concerned but the concrete contractor was deep into and was working on smoothing. I was concerned but presumed he knew what he was doing. I had to take off and did not get a chance to talk with him. The next afternoon I went upstairs. When I walked the floors I could feel dips in a number of areas. When the contractor stopped by to pick up his check as we had arranged, I asked about the dips. (I didn’t bother asking about what was pourred as it seemed a moot point now.) He said that the dips would not be noticable with carpet given the pad or with tile as the the mortar was be used to even things out. I paid him and he went on his way.
The next morning, another contractor that had been doing some other work came in. I mentioned about the dips in the floor. He put the level down and showed me where the dips where as much as 1/2 inch in areas. Additionally, there was a lot of cleanup that required to be chiseled away. I called the contact vendor. He said he was heading out of town for the New Years weekend but would come in early the following week to look at my areas of concern.
During that time, a number of fractures began to appear. Because of the extent of the fracturing, I began to do more internet research. I came across sites that mentioned slipsheets or membranes that would allow the concrete to expand/contract at different speeds than the surrounding wood. The fractures have continued to grow. There is at least one in each room and many of the doorways having at least one going to wherethe door frames were.
The concrete contractor finally called and left a message saying he was sorry that he had been sick. I did not call him back as at this point I was now tring to find another concrete contractor who would tell me how I should ask to have my unlevel floors and cracking addressed. A friend was able to point me in the direction of a friend of his he knew was good and had been in the business for a long time. I explained my situation and I asked about ways to remedy, such as pouring self leveling on top of te concrete and putting luan on top of that. The concrete friend said that would not be sufficient as I had a bigger problem because the 8yds of concrete had poured directly on wood and that it was going to rot my floors. He said that anybody who had been in the business for any number of years would know better than to pour directly on wood with no moisture barrier. He said I was most likely going to have to break it all up and remove it and start over. He sugested that I get another concrete guy to come over and review the situation and right me something up and that he would do likewise and that I could have these in hand when I met with the original contractor and that I may end up having to take to court.
- How dire is my situation?
- Is mediation required/possible? (Complete tear-out, level floors, venting between 1st floor joists, etc)
- How should I handle with the original contractor?
- Any other insight you think would help.
Thank you for your patience and help.