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What are the steps to rebuilding a ruined house?

Updated: 12/12/2022
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Dylan24294

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13y ago

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The first step, is to determine how badly 'ruined' is actually meant by the statement that its 'ruined'. Obviously that is not a term that is equally understood in all person's minds. (For instance my wife says a wood floor is 'ruined' now that the dog has scratched it up a bit) and really that could only be quantified as a floor that is 'marked'. The 'ruins' of an old historic house that is nothing more than a foundation with some rotting wood rafters and floor beams laying inside the basement crawl space, are remarkably different.

That said, the parts that are 'ruined' either have to be reused (if still usable )reinforced if usable, but weakened, or removed and replaced. Supposing that the rebuild is for function and not for historical and personal exactness (such as a perfect renovation or period restoration of a landmark for a museum) - the level of reinforcement or replacement should be a) at least to the original strength and function, AND 2) at least to current codes for strength (or design). So if an old house has a 'ruined' roof, and its rafters are 3" x 6" rough sawn oak on 24" centers, with 3/4" x 4" poplar planks running perpendicular - you'd certainly want to return it to at least what it was. But if oak is not available, or poplar, and you substitute hem/fir #2, and standard finish vs. rough sawn, and plywood sheathing for roofing underlayment, vs, the poplar planks - you'd first have to calculate or compare Hem/Fir to oak, plywood to planking and increase the sizes/thicknesses of your material to develop the same kind of strength the house had when 'newly' built. THEN, you'd have to compare what you are rebuilding to current codes. For instance, assume for this discussion that 3x6 rough oak, could be 'replaced' with 2" x 8" hem/fir #2 rafters. And, lets assume that planks of poplar (on 2' centers) could be replaced with 7/16" A/C exterior plywood, or 9/16" OSB Exterior sheathing. Fine as far as that goes. But lets also assume that the code in your part of the world is NOW (modern day) that your roof has to be 120lbs/sqare foot, and 2x8" on 24" centers will NOT work. Or that sheathing must be at least 17/32" for 24" spans, to be allowed in your zone or jurisdiction. Clearly you would then have to upgrade to less distance on center for rafters, bigger lumber on 24" centers (such as 2x10 or 2x12)and surely the plywood has to be thicker than the 7/16" that was originally considered good enough.

Assuming that the 'ruined' house is going to be rebuilt under a local permit, I'd say the permitting process, and the local building codes may have to be followed EVEN IF THE AREA OF THE HOUSE THAT IS NOT BEING REBUILT IS SUBSTANDARD. For instance, in our example, the bigger material for local code compliance is called for. IN the part of the roof that might not be previously judged 'ruined', the local building code may dictate that it, TOO, may have to be brought up to code, even if it's not 'ruined'. In some jurisdictions, if you are doing a major tear out (of ruined stuff) and patching new to old, you may have to upgrade the remaining old.

So, the steps are simple (and this is qualified by the earlier point that we don't really know if this questioner is considering ruined to be the same as I have developed it to mean here. Also, lets assume that the house is not totally ruined, and/or that is is 'ruined' by a current event. (hence point A. is most imperative)

Finally lets assume the questioner, or the person/s that are rebuilding are qualified and skilled craftsmen and builders, and understand basic construction, and can determine proper safe methods for working in a damaged/ruined structure. OSHA rules for demolition are different and specific vs. rules for building.

A. Before Entering, determine what is safe and stable, and what is potentially a imminent failure - whether to fall upon you, or someone else, or to fall down and create other damage.

B. Always, reinforce, and shore up the parts that could be a danger, but only when reinforcing or shoring can be done from a position of safety.

C. Remove or guard against being crushed or killed by falling damaged parts. Remove crushed, fallen, weakened, and failed parts from above, or using equipment that can reach into and onto the building.

D. Remove weakened parts from the building, and guard/protect the building against additional or continued damage:

E: Once clean, safe, protected from future damage, and stable, then:

1. Determine what is failed, and what is still useful, and strong enough for reuse, or to remain

2. Determine what is still strong enough to be used, but not strong enough to be up to code.

3. Determine what local codes are, and what special conditions exist for your special circumstances.

4. Design, (with help of qualified persons, and proper data, or if code requires a design professional) the new improved or replicated parts of your building. If stamped drawings are required, hire a licensed engineer to do the sketches, drawings.

5. Get training on areas you are not familiar with, or retain expert contractors to do that work.

6. Secure and properly wear protective gear for eyes, face, body, hands, feet, respiratory (especially if old materials include toxins, hazardous materials, or animal wastes, or if methods cause hazards (dust, heat, fumes, mists, gasses, vapors, flying objects, fall protection from heights over 4', falling objects, sharp objects, moving or shifting parts or objects, etc.)

7. Determine the special sequences and dangers of demolition, removal of items that are damaged. Always shore or reinforce areas before demolition or removal of any member that may affect the adjacent areas. As shoring is installed, take the load onto the shoring. Never let a load 'fall' and expect it to be caught by the shoring. The shoring should be properly built, and secured, and braced to accept the loads and should properly transfer the loads down and through the existing structure to a solid footing.

8. determine the sequences of installation of each item, as logical, and in special recognition of shoring, guarding, and reinforcing that may be in place. As the new materials and structures are built or placed, the sequence of taking the load off the shoring, or releasing the load from the shoring to be borne by the new structure should be analyzed with the help of design experts. It may be necessary to shore or brace even the new construction, in order to remove some shoring, but before you finish the new construction. After the new construction in such affected area is done, then the intermediate bracing or shoring may be able to be removed.

9. Special planning and qualified expertise may have to be retained, or learned, or on site, during demolition and rebuilding, especially as it relates to special hazards, or special bracing and transferring of loads and installing, removing, and special intermediate steps for bracing and shoring.

10. In restoration, and in rebuilding, it is sometimes necessary to jack or hoist items, including sagging and displaced structures that fell down or moved as a result of a 'ruined' part. Only skilled craftsman and special attention to transfer of loads should be part of any jacking or hoisting, tugging or forced movement of any structural parts, as well as the above hazards and special precautions being followed for shoring and bracing, including temporary or stepped reinforcement or bracing or shoring.

In following the steps, to properly ascertain the weakened, damaged, and salvageable material and sections of the structure, protection what you have, securing and strengthening what is left to assure its safety, planning, properly engineering and securing of proper replacement materials, safe demolition after shoring and reinforcing, determining proper and safety methods for rebuilding, and being aware of the possibilities of dangers and hazards from load transfer, and using skilled and trained persons to help with the project, a 'ruined' house can be rebuilt satisfactorily. This general answer must be specifically tuned to the circumstances of the actual conditions of each project.

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