A Tale of Two Engineers

Structural and civil engineers were meant to collaborate – after all, their academic faculties are usually under the same roof! This is a story of such a collaboration to restore a historic townhouse on Beacon Hill.

The building was plagued by standing water in the basement for years.  The combination of constant moisture presence and a basement fire many years ago degraded the wood framing beyond reasonable repair.  Additionally, the basement stairs had rotted so much from water damage that entire sections of stringers were gone, and the stairs were supported by kneeling against wood studs – that were also rotted!

How did we solve this problem?

Approximately 80% of the first floor framing was too deteriorated from water and fire damage to save.  CBI designed a replacement joist system supported on new engineered lumber beams and steel posts with new footings, and new pressure-treated wood ledgers at the masonry foundation walls.  New basement stairs were also part of the design.

Our Senior Associate, a Civil Engineer (in addition to a waterproofing and building envelope specialist), devised a trench draining system to take ground water swelling up toward the basement and redirect it to an abandoned well.  As a backup, the design included a sump pump that would take well overflow and pump it out of the basement and into a new drywell in the yard.

CBI can only imagine how many other Beacon Hill townhouses suffer the same deterioration. Repairing and updating foundation structures and drainage systems could give these stately buildings decades more useful life. So, one down…dozens to go.