How To Jack Up A House To Replace Rim Joist

Ryan Womeldorf
by Ryan Womeldorf

Damage to the foundation or rim joist of a house can be potentially dangerous for structural integrity reasons. Generally speaking, the rim joist will be located under an exterior wall and will more often than not be load bearing.

When the rim joist has become damaged or worn down, it needs to be replaced. This requires taking the load off so that the rim joist and possibly the sill plate can be replaced. More often than not, this is the result of improper waterproofing performed by the contractor during construction.

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What Is A Rim Joist?

When a flooring system or deck is framed, the rim joist is then attached in a perpendicular fashion to the joists. This is meant to provide support to the joist ends while also capping off the end of the deck or flooring system.

To put it another way: the rim joists are to the joists as the bottom or top wall plate would be to the studs. The rim joists are structural support for the flooring and are oftentimes located below the exterior walls.

In most older homes, the rim joists will tend to not have insulation. Given that these are the only materials that could keep them separate from the outdoor air are the siding and sheathing, it can mean that the joists will eventually need replacing. It may not be too late to provide insulation and they should be brought to the same level as any above-grade walls.

How Do You Raise A House On Your Own?

Nowadays a lot more people are set on being self-sufficient, which means they like to take their own home repairs into their hands. This is great! Except some of them may not have the experience. For a project like this, we highly recommend you have a friend or a family member to guide you through so that you can do this safely and properly.

We’ve included the steps below to help walk you through the process. Although, when in doubt, don’t attempt this on your own. never hesitate to call a professional if you feel that you need to.

Step 1: Talk To A Structural Engineer

The first step should be to contact someone who is qualified as a structural engineer. The engineer is qualified to not only assess the house but will tell you if jacking up the house is even a good idea. Proceeding without this assessment is not advised.

It is also a good idea to be familiar with the terms. If you don’t know what a header, point-load or continuous load path are, it is probably a good idea that you go with professional help instead of trying to do it yourself. Those who don’t have a prior knowledge base will likely end up causing more issues than they solve.

It is understandable that there will a desire to save on costs. This is the structural integrity of your home at stake. Don’t take any unnecessary risks by trying to take on the project yourself if you do not feel comfortable with the task.

Step 2: Finding Out How Far The House Should Be Lifted

Before you can determine what it will cost to replace the sill plate, you need to know how far the house will have to be lifted. Not only that, you will need to know if one side has to be lifted or if it will be the entirety of the structure.

You can use a water level, laser, or even a taut string to determine just high the house needs to be lifted up. When you have the tool of choice, make a straight line that goes from one end of the foundation all the way to the other. It is a good idea to hold the string on the part that you want to replace on the rim joist or sill plate.

Step 3: Building A Wall Stud

Another thing that you need to do before ultimately jacking up the house is to build a wall stud. This will need to be built in the basement in order to support any of the floor joists that are located in this area. Keep in mind that you may have to take down any drop ceilings or drywall in order to gain access to those floor joists.

It is also necessary to add supporting stud walls around the area that is impacted by the rim joists or sill plates. Make sure that the stud wall fits properly; you will likely have to hammer the top board to achieve this result.

The compression will ultimately take on the load when the damaged joists have been removed. If the sill plate or joists are in a crawl space, you will need to know how to build a stud wall in those places. Planning ahead can be vital in this instance.

Step 4: Getting A Hydraulic Jack

When it comes time to get the hydraulic jack, you can either rent one or buy one. Given that this is one of the few times you’ll need it, renting is probably the better option. Not only will it cost far less, it will also be covered should it not work properly.

As you jack the house up, you’ll want to add in some smaller blocks so as to support the very center of the structure at its current new elevation. When you have gotten enough space to replace the damaged joists or rotten sill plate, you can remove the hydraulic jack.

This step should be done slowly and patiently. Ensure that you have added enough smaller blocks in place to provide proper support. You need to be able to work on the damaged joists or sill and not worry about if the support will hold. Take your time, add as much support as you think you’ll need while you go.

Step 5: Time To Remove The Damaged Parts

Now that the house has been jacked up to a proper height that will allow for work to be done, it is time to actually remove and replace those damaged joists or the sill plate. Any rotted wood can be removed, and new sections can be cut out to replace the oil joists.

If it is the sill plate, make sure that the new sill plate has been made of pressure-treated wood. This will make it structurally sound enough to hold up to the stress of supporting the home. When you have placed the new rim joists, use 16p nails to properly secure them; galvanized nails aren’t really necessary here.

When you have successfully replaced the damage parts, you can slowly begin bringing the house back down. Place the hydraulic jack into place and begin to remove your support blocks, lowering the jack as you do so.

What Size Jack Is Needed?

Without the right size jack or several screw jacks, the house probably won’t ever start to lift. Because hydraulic jacks are so commonly used, it is important to get the right tonnage to ensure that the jack will do its job.

In any given case, you would probably want at least a 20-ton jack. This should get the job done for the most part, but a 40-ton jack is probably a better bet to ensure that you can lift the house without any real issue.

What Does To Cost To Jack Up The House?

Though it can depend on a number of things like which materials are needed and the place that you rent the jack from, it can cost anywhere from $2,678-$8,000. Jacking up the house and replacing the foundation is where things get really expensive, though.

This can start at $20,000 and cost as much as $100,000 due to excavation, fees, permits, grading, and engineers that need to overview the entire project.

How Much Would It Cost To Hire A Professional

If this is not something you’re comfortable doing on your own then you will need to hire a professional to jack your house up for you. This would cost more than doing it yourself though, obviously. If you were to do it on your own the only thing you would need to pay for is the materials and tools themselves. This would be about $1,000 to $2,000 depending.

However, if you were to hire someone to do this for you then you are looking at a good $7,000 to $100,000 depending on the size of your home and the size of your job. although, you should know that this does include the building permits and other fees. This cost reflects everything included in the job plus usually a satisfaction guarantee as well so if anything goes wrong, you can get it fixed.

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Wrapping It Up

Maybe you’re wanting to redo your home’s foundation or lift it off of the surface due to floodwaters. In any case, you will need to know how to jack up your house. This is a great DIY project, however, you need to make sure that you get the correct building permits and licenses before attempting this.

If you’re doubtful and worried about this, then you can always call a professional to come to do it for you. It’s always better to be safe than sorry! Or, you can always call a friend for help

Ryan Womeldorf
Ryan Womeldorf

Ryan Womeldorf has more than a decade of experience writing. He loves to blog about construction, plumbing, and other home topics. Ryan also loves hockey and a lifelong Buffalo sports fan.

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