Chad’s Level House?

Maybe it’s a sacrilege, but yes, I’ve undone the worst of my house’s eponymous crookedness. I’ll only be doing this to one room, mind you. The back bedroom, which had been uncomfortably crooked, is now within 1/8″ of level. And it was built strangely with strips of wood 2 feet apart supporting the floors, and now it has a plywood subfloor, making it both the most level and the most solid room in the house. Sometime later I plan to reinstall the original floorboards, but for now they’re in the bathroom, making it virtually impossible to go into that room.

So how did I do this? Well, Father of the Year and I bought new wood, lightly nailed it to the old joists, and drew a line at the tops of the original joists. We then cut the new wood along these lines, creating a wedge shaped piece of wood that could be glued and screwed to the tops of the original joists. Neighbor of the year loaned me a professional grade laser level, which gave us a level line around the entire room to work from.  And here’s what it looks like now:



Yes, the subfloor is only partially installed; I’m leaving it open for the plumber and the electrician for now. It’s nice to see where the walls I’m moving are actually going to go! That short wall separates this bedroom from its awesome new closet. And you can see that gross looking part of the wall where the bathtub used to be; the layout change really improved this bedroom. Sometime soon I’ll be ready to fill in that window. Don’t worry, I’m putting 2 windows on the back where there’s only 1 now; there’ll be plenty of light. Windows matter to me. In one house I looked at, I was going to demolish a closet addition to install a glass door for daylight. Maybe that makes me crazy, but I’m doing what I want.

Now I worried a lot lately about what to do to reinforce one floor joist. You see, it was cut the whole way through for the original plumbing. This doesn’t seem to have been a problem; it held 500 pounds’ worth of bathtub for over 100 years, which is now gone, but I wanted to do something to shore it up anyway. It runs right alongside the brick wall, so I thought of epoxying giant lag screws into the brick. Then I read an academic paper called “Building failure caused by out of plane loads in historic masonry walls” and decided maybe I don’t want to do that. Then I realized that the solution was so simple I should smack myself. My walls are solid; no space for wiring or insulation, and hanging cabinetry is a challenge. This joist is RIGHT next to that wall, so I framed in the wall for insulation, and now it’s completely under a wall. It ain’t goin’ nowhere!



You also get one last glimpse of the old wallpaper and plastic tile before it gets covered up again. Of course, it’s a nice quirk for some other homeowner to discover in another 50 years. Or maybe 100. I’d like to think I’m what I’m doing will last a while.

And, this isn’t really a progress update, but have you ever wondered how doors are put together? Today you get to find out. You may remember from one of my early posts that I got a set of 5 awesome fauxriginal doors from Philadelphia Salvage. The doors that came with the house were exactly half and half hollow raised panel and hollow flat. I thought of reselling the paneled doors until I saw that they only retail for $20. So instead I wasted them, but at least you get to have a look inside.


Yes, that support at the bottom is cardboard! And no, this picture was not taken in my house. I wish!


9 thoughts on “Chad’s Level House?

  1. Ethan Giller

    You have joists running parallel to the walls? I’ve never seen that, do you know the history there?

    Cool article that you referenced – it looks like you definitely would have been fine using epoxy and bolts, but your solution is better!


    1. chadscrookedhouse Post author

      Agreed, my solution accomplishes a few extra things while I’m at it, and it was cheaper and easier to do. The joists change direction at the back of my house because the second floor cantilevers beyond the first. These cantilevers aren’t that rare and it has to be done the way it is, so my house can’t be the only one built like this.


      1. Rae

        Mine does the same thing. I think my back bedroom must have been cantilevered as well, but at some point they bumped out the kitchen to make it bigger, so now the back of my house is just one straight wall.


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