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Discussion Starter #1
This is weird. I'm having a barn built, and to get to lower level I had pressure treated stairs put in with a 4x4ft landing at top (My idea). Two posts were augered in. One stair stringer is attached to a retaining wall. I told them I'll need to dig down then use scrap 2x6s treated on two sides so I can backfill it, walk over to deck.
I just backhoed and raked it and the one post is 30" long sitting on dirt! Shouldn't it be augered in?
I haven't made final payment, and wonder what to do. Can I drill a hole beside it, attach post to it (parallel)? All along I've been helping, doing some of the work, but although it seems sturdy now, it can't be right.


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They should all be in concrete footings.
It has been discovered that concrete will rot construction grade lumber over a period of 40 years or so. That's one reason why the construction practice now is to lay a 1/8" foam sheet barrier between the concrete foundation and the wood structure of a house.

When the wood is also in contact with the moist ground, the rot happens over a somewhat shorter time. Apparently, it's the combination of moisture and the lime in the concrete that attacks the wood.
 

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I've heard that one, never seen it happen... but then again I'm still a young pup. :kens:

I'd rather that anyhow than have the posts rot quicker, or begin their inevitable journey to the center of the Earth.

Over here the footings are often pre-cast and sunk but designed to protrude above-ground, then the posts are bolted to hardware cast into the top of the things.
 

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Over here the footings are often pre-cast and sunk but designed to protrude above-ground, then the posts are bolted to hardware cast into the top of the things.
Same idea here, but the post bases are galvanized bent sheet metal mounted with an anchor bolt in the concrete. The base puts an air space between the concrete and the post to keep moisture away.

I pulled the rotted remains of 2x4s out of the basement floor that had been used to screed the concrete 38 years previously when I remodeled a house 17 years ago. Had to hand mix a bag of concrete mix to fill the slots. Won't be doing that again with my back!!
 

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I think we're on the same page... on both counts. Funny some of the stuff you run across fixing up old places/someone else's... (PC term) "mistakes". I could write a book on some of the "interesting" stuff I've found fixing up this place.

Reminds me it's past time to update the 'Bota thread, but I haven't taken a whole lot of pictures of late... hard to do with all three hands full...

EDIT: If the Colonies are using that type of footer/footing now too (as opposed to the Sonotube of old) then my original reply should be "on" concrete footing.
 

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A friend's dad built a barn back in the '70's by burying 5 gallon pails of concrete three feet deep,with 3" heavy walled pipes anchored in the cement to support the main beams..
The building inspector was not pleased,he had wanted things buried deeper (frost line can go as deep as 4 feet here,but 2 feet is average)..but decided it was "good enough for a horse barn",and let it slide..it still stands today,and nothing "bad" has happened..

He also put an addition on the barn around 1980,he decided it was too difficult for him to use the previous method,he was now unable to do the work like once before--he used 6x6 pressure treated poles ,in holes he dug with a gas powered post hole digger ,and he just put a few inches of crushed stone at the bottom,and coated the posts with roofing tar,then put a large plastic trash bag around the post over the tar,and made sure it stuck up about a foot past the ground,then just poured cement around the posts in the hole,the quick setting stuff..nothing has ever heaved,or rotted yet..

Goes to show some unusual building methods do work!..but may not be approved by your local building inspector..
Personally I think the steel brackets on top of a sonotube full of concrete are not as strong as having a post buried directly,those galvanized brackets are not all that thick,can rust after awhile ,and let the wall tilt or lean..the bolts buried in the concrete can rot away too..yet it is the "preferred" method..
 

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Discussion Starter #11
It wasn't dug out. It was dug beside it. The supervisor just left. We were able to poke a 4ft piece of rebar underneath until we hit solid ground. He agreed it wasn't right, I'm glad I spotted it now. We'll get it fixed.

At my grandparents large old house has a concrete front porch with four large wood 20ft. columns the bottom started to rot. Years ago a contractor friend said how to fix it by putting two 2" vent plugs each one, cut off lower 2ft. Then on solid blocks larger than post with a 1/4" stainless steel plate on top. It was a real job jacking up porch roof at each post while I did it. Everything painted back white columns look fine and holding up well.

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From those pictures you posted, it almost appears that the stairs are only a temporary fix to reach the different levels as a retaining wall should be there. In the last two pics, you can even see where water has eroded the side above the tooth marks of the bucket used.
 

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The 4th and 5th pics show the post ending a few inches below the general grade level. If in Virginia the frost line is below that, it will heave. What I can't tell is whether that clump it is sitting on is concrete or dirt. IF concrete, they might have figured it will support the post, but that is not quality by any means. If is isn't concrete and it is dirt, that should be a show stopper. Have your contractor have a look at it and fix it right. You might also check a few other spots just in case. Respect is hard to get and easily lost. I'd say your contractor lost his on this deal.
Just an opinion. Good luck.
 

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Second thought: With that post being in the side of a slope, you have to remember that frost freezes not only downward, but also sideways from the soil surface. Consequently, that post will need to be below the frost line as measured from a point somewhere down slope from the upper grade level. After a year, I'd predict that you will see that corner "popped up" as compared to the rest unless fixed.
 

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Discussion Starter #15
Thanks for replies. So glad I caught it early.
(It's raining now, finally after many weeks no rain.)
When it dries out I'll dig beside this post from inside and put another treated post beside it. Once I hit solid ground I'll go another 30" or so, some quickrete in bottom, quickrete around it, packed in well then I got 5/8" zinc threaded rod I'll bolt them together. Then I'll run 2x6s all the way up two sides and backfill.
I'll make two steps up to this walkway from there. I was here when guy put other posts in and I know they're ok.
It should last my lifetime anyway.


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