Good afternoon fellow members.  I need advice on a problem that I have discovered in the home that I want to purchase.  It is an early to mid 1800's victorianized federal style brick colonial (if that makes any sense).  It has been abandoned since about 2002 and has been ravaged by time, neglect, theft, weather and fire.  The roof is caving in, in a lot of places which has allowed water to sit and puddle on the second floor which has in turn caused the second floor to sag very badly.  From what I can see the floor joists are let into the exterior brick walls and the ends of the majority of them have rotted away or pulled away from the floors sagging.  I am thinking that the best and easiest solution to this would be to completely gut the house down to the bare brick from top to bottom and rebuild a frame inside the existing brick walls much like they did when Truman reconstructed the White House.  This would give me ample space for running modern electricity, plumbing and HVAC while still allowing me to reproduce and apply millwork and finishes similar to what was there from the beginning. 

Can anyone share experiences of something similar or offer me any advice on how to actually begin this?

I'm pretty sure that I will have to start on the first floor with 4 x 4 or 6 x 6 pressure treated posts set on concrete pilings to build the first floor deck then frame the walls out, build second floor deck, etc...  This being topped with a newly framed roof and most likely a standing seam metal roof system.

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Yes I can help guide thru the maze of opinions, advice and methods



Since you said want to purchase,  the best advice I can give you is to hunt up the local authority having jurisdiction, and talk to him about your plans before you make any forward motion on buying. 

I've seen too many projects skyrocket in cost because the buyer went ahead and the building inspector didn't like what was happening. 

you will need steel tie-rods in both directions to keep the brick walls from bulging out if there is no floor system tying it together. On most federal houses there are tie rods holding the non-bearing walls together already.


Please do tell Casey, why such steel tie rods weren't necessary for Centuries of masonry buildings?

I really want to know, having worked in a few hundred masonry multi story buildings with cross timbered wood floors that didn't have the needed steel tie rods.  Perhaps I should run and tell the owners of those buildings their walls are about to collapse for want of steel tie rods.

google "star washer" you will see hundreds of structures that have steel  tie rods. It let them get away with 2 wythe walls 3 stories in height.

If masonry is of adequate thickness to be stable w/o tie rods, then it is. But when it wasn't, they put the tie rods in. Federal-period eastern US was fast-growing, and they saved 1/3 of the labor and materials making those non-bearing walls thinner than they probably ought to have done.

NO Casey, lack of sufficient masonry thickness wasn't why trussing rods were installed.

Trussing rods have long been used to increase load bearing capacity of light timber beams.  Masonry under a beam must be sufficiently strong to carry the compression weight.  Masonry offers no support in tension.

Carrying the trussing rod through the wall to a star washer was fashionable and saved the labor of properly socketing the end of the rod into the end of the beam.  The star or plate outside of the wall spreads the stress over a greater area.

The same system was employed on rail cars and wagons in the time when both were made with wood support beams.


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