How much does it cost to lift a house?
My son’s looking for a place to buy. He’s found this rather cute little single-family home nested in a neighborhood where virtually every building is a 3 or 4 story condo with 4 pr more units. This place has lots of charm, not the least of which is being this one littel single-family house among all the hulking condos.
But it has some weird features as well. If he buys it, he’ll have to do some heavy renovation to turn it into something highly marketable and livable. The house has a half-basement that’s partly set up as a laundry area and houses the heating system. It has a toilet in a small enclosure in one corner. There’s a sink outside the toilet stall. It’s clearly been used as a bedroom. There are windows all around but they are only about 2½ feet high.
I’m 5’-11” and the basement ceiling just clears my head. So project number one would be to tear off the walls near the basement ceiling, put beams under the floor joists of the 1st floor level and jack them up with hydraulic jacks to full contact, then cut through all the wall and studs, break all the plumbing and electrical connections, and jack the house up 2 feet to give it a full 8-foot ceiling in the basement. We’d then have to carefully fit jack studs in the open spaces, put scab studs on both sides of the patch, and bolt the scabs securely to the upper, jack, and lower stud stubs. Then reconnect the plumbing, electrical and replace the walls.
The first floor has a nice living room and well finished kitchen with one exception This floor also has a small toilet stall in the rear corner of the kitchen, and instead of having the sink in the counter space near the stove, the kitchen sink is located just outside the toilet stall, presumably to do double as a bathroom sink to wash up after using the water closet. While the house is jacked up, I’d run plumbing for a separate sink over on the business side of the kitchen, and expand the toilet enclosure to be a full half bath with a normal bathroom sink in it.
The upstairs is a real and rather spacious bedroom, at least spacious in floor space. It has the only full bath in the house, but with a shower stall only. There is no tub. Also, the walls bearing the A-Frame Roof are low, so aside from a 4-foot space down the center of the room and the areas where several dormers push out, the ceiling slopes down at a substantial pitch till it’s only about 3½ feet high at the outer walls. So project 3 is to do a trick similar to that of lifting the whole house above the basement. This time, though, we would just cut the top plate and rafters loose, jack them up, and build a full 8-foot wall under them.
The place is about 850 sq. ft total. Fairly tiny. It’s all wood frame construction, no masonry except in the foundations. So we aren’t talking about a very heavy building to jack. Anyone familiar with this level of construction and able to suggest a ballpark for what it would cost to hire a competent contractor to do it. It’s in Somerville, one of the ring of towns around the downtown Boston area.
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