New Brick Facade questions?

Discussion in 'Home / Garden / Outdoors' started by T.logan, Oct 27, 2009.

  1. T.logan

    T.logan urban scout

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    Hi. I recently purchased my first house in south philly after having rented houses in the city for many years. i bought this house as is and have been doing a lot of sprucing up on my own. the front facade of my hosue is the original facade and i believe it dates to about 1875-1880. it has bowed out from the side walls at about the height of the first floor ceiling. The neighbors house to my right is bowing out too in the same place although that house is sort of abandoned. i had a few masons out here to look at the place and two said i could starbolt and repoint and the other said that the water damage is partially coming from my neighbors house. i can see water dripping down the large four inch crack in the corner of my living room when it rains very heavily.. i don't think starbolting is the best option. can anyone tell me how the new facade construction works? i've seen it done in the neighborhood and sometimes they use cinderblock with a single course of brick up the front, and i've also seen them build an interior wall out of wood studs and plywood and then brick up the front of that. does anyone have any experience with this? which is a better/cheaper way to fix this front. any thoughts or experience welcomed and appreciated!
     
  2. Mr Morley

    Mr Morley Banned

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    I'm sure one of the contractors who posts here will comment here and they'll know more than I do, but my understanding is that star bolts are only supposed to be used to stabilize, not to correct, so if your wall is bowed that badly, it should probably be replaced.

    If you're talking about the front facade of a row house, it's actually easy to replace, as the facade isn't load-bearing (the party walls provide the support for the joists) which is why so many houses in South Philly have facades which post-date construction. If it's a twin, it's a different story.

    What's the situation with the roof on the house next door? If it's letting water in along the party wall, even a new facade may not stop the leaking in the long-run.
     
  3. StrangeTanks

    StrangeTanks Well-Known Member

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    There are 2 causes for bowing in the front of a row home. I'm suprised your home inspector didnt flag this and give you a recomendation on remediating the problem.

    Older brick walls are typically 2 layers thick. The outside layer could be coming away from the inside layer. Or, the entire wall is bowing. Look closely at the floors where they hit that wall on the second floor. If the entire wall is bowing, there will be a gap in the flooring.

    If the outside layer is coming away from the inside layer, a mason can rip it off and put new brick in place.

    If the entire wall is bowing, you can have stars installed, which will stop any future movement. These stars are supposed to have a long bolt which is attached to several joists inside. Your going to have to cut some holes in the ceiling to do this.

    If you need an entirely new facade, it can be cinder block with brick, or framed with brick (modern construction). I'm not sure about the pros and cons of these methods. But just keep in mind, the front wall of your house is not load bearing, so structurally either one should be fine.

    I would definately get any leaks taken care of too. Even if you have to hire a roofer to repair the vacant property next door. It will definately be cheaper in the end.
     
  4. T.logan

    T.logan urban scout

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    Thanks for the responses. my home inspector did flag this problem, and as it was an as is property and the price was very very good for the neighborhood i figured i would deal with it when it had to be dealt with. but with all of this rain lately it seems like the time is now. i'd like to get this fixed soon, before it gets too cold, as i probably wont have anywhere to go when they are doing this. one of my neighbors had this done recently and i spoke to her mason about it and he quoted me about 10 grand to do this. what stopped me from having him do it was that he wanted me to file permits for it, and that he wanted it paid in full before he started.. both of those things popped up as red flags because i've heard some real horror stories about contractors in this city. i saw a property that Jerry Contractors did down at 8th and wolf and it looked nice, but the style of the new facade seemed very 80's to me and i'm looking for something a little more traditional, in keeping with the originality of the house.

    anyway, thanks for your thoughts.

    any recommendations for a good mason to do this work??
     
  5. stock

    stock Well-Known Member

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    Like Strange and Morley pointed out, there are two ways to rebuild.

    Cinder and brick and framing and brick. I would go with framing and brick, this gives you a cavity to insulate. While it's open you can also run new electric in that area. Denim insulation has superior sound dampening than fiberglass. That combined with new windows and your good to go. Think about a bigger door while your at it.

    Star bolts are to stop any more bowing, but... We have put them in and pulled back fronts about an inch. There is a 6' long, inch thick, threaded rod that goes into your home through 4 joists. Code says you only have to put a washer and bolt on the fist and last joist, we do every joist. Also you want to put blocking in between each joist starting at the back joist moving forward to the front staggering out a few inch's each time. This is to spread the weight. Torque on the bolt is 60 pounds per. Have each star on the outside, primed and painted on ALL over (back, sides etc...) before it's installed. This will stop rust running down your front.

    We do the bolts and pointing, doors and windows (following all the Historic Commission guidelines) but don't do rebuilds. The best I've seen at new facades is an Armenian guy. His name escapes me, but we both buy a lot of stuff from Woods Brothers in Fishtown, I can get his number if you want.

    As for the abandoned home next door, if you can't find the owner, do what you need to protect yourself. Not sure of the legal stuff (I'm sure a lawyer here could fill us in) but I'm pretty sure if you make every attempt to contact them and they don't respond, you are allowed to protect your property.
     
  6. Xavior718

    Xavior718 New Member

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    I'd like to do the same thing. Did you get the wall rebuilt? how many floors is your home? How did it turn out? What kind of construction did you choose? How much did it cost? Would you recommend who did it?
     
  7. boblee

    boblee Well-Known Member

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    If you can save the original brick, have it deconstructed and then rebuilt along the original construction with the original brick. If you are going to replace brick with brick, no need to buy new and it keeps the original facade, which is a selling point.
     
  8. Aladin

    Aladin New Member

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    I also need help with a brick facade and would like a general cost to remediate the issue. 16' wide by three stories tall. home in Fishtown front facade was painted and is now pulling away from the second row of brick. about 2 to three inches. Looking for some good contractor references as well.
     

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