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Octagon Lower Level

The first thing we started on was the lower level. A door in the basement had been closed off with a sheetrock wall. Removing the wall revealed the door between the octagon and the rectangular addition. It also exposed 2 steel I-Beams added during the late 1940’s – 1950’s remodel. This was the main support for the octagon 3 level interior. Some settling and movement of the support beam revealed that on one side approximately 1/8 of an inch of the 2 x 4’s were being supported.

The house had been built using balloon construction techniques. No sole plate is used under the support studs for the upper floor. This created a serious safety issue. If the I-beam had moved 1/8 inch more or the edge of the 2 x 4’s had splintered the upper floor and roof would have fallen into the first floor. With only 1 tenant left in the octagon we let the lease expire and the resident moved to a new home. A 2 x 6 wall was constructed in the basement to support the upper floor studs.

Construction of the original walls were 2 x 4 (not 1 1/2 x 3 1/2) plus 4 x4 for doorways instead of a king and jack stud combination. No door headers were used omitting jack studs and only toe nailing the door frame header into a 4 x 4. No sole plate was used and only a single top plate.

When fully remodeled the upper floor support walls will sit on the main subfloor (not the I-Beam) and consist of a sole plate and two top plates. The floors should seem a little less like a trampoline when the floor sits on top of a wall rather than nailed to it.

The main level was vacant when the house was purchased. 80 percent of the walls were stone and had no insulation. Even more of the upper level was without insulation. Windows had significant wood rot and were covered by plastic. 5 space heaters kept the temperature above freezing. Responsible for heating 3 units the winter gas bill exceeded $700.00 for these 3 units. Thermostats were turned to a minimum on the upper floors and remodeling began.