“What Kind of Contractor Do I Get To Look at This?”

DamagedColumnBase-Photo1

“Dear PoPville,

My front porch is supported by two columns.

The base of one of the columns (which I think is wood) seems to be deteriorating — sort of “sinking in.” (Possibly termite damage?? I haven’t had it looked at yet.)

Regardless of what’s causing the damage… what kind of contractor (or contractors?) do I get to look at it and possibly fix it? I’m worried that if the column itself has sunk — and/or continues to sink — it could make the porch roof imbalanced and possibly strain it.

DamagedColumnBase2

If the problem was with the porch roof itself, I’d get a roofer… but I’m not sure what kind of contractor I should get to look at the columns. A structural engineer seems like too much… would a carpenter be sufficient?

I’m including three photos — two of the damaged column base, and one of the undamaged column base for comparison.

UndamagedColumnBase

Thanks!”

7 Comment

  • A good carpenter can fix this. No need for a structural engineer. The carpenter will most likely jack the roof above up back to it’s original height, brace it, and then remove/replace the damaged column base.

  • Looks like it’s just rotted to me. I’d take a crowbar to the base and start pulling off some of the trim so you can see what’s going on structurally. Hopefully just the trim rotted and that’s all you need to replace.

    Yes, any carpenter should be able to handle this. You could look for someone that does exterior trim work — like siding/exterior companies.

  • More than likely your actual support columns are intact. It seems like they framed around/ put a trim package around the structural parts. Maybe just a matter of replacing the framing/trim work. Which a carpenter can do. But can’t really tell as can’t see the full pic.

  • Agree. That is just decorative trim surrounding the structural element. Inside that there is probably a steel column. If the roof isn’t sagging you’re really lucky and not looking at much expense. If you do need more work, any carpenter/contractor can repair, just make sure they know the code and span charts to go by.

  • I far from an expert but the fact that the railing goes through the base and attached to the column leads me to believe the base isn’t structural but is decorative. I’d just get a carpenter to look at it.

  • HaileUnlikely

    Best case scenario (but no guarantee) – structural support is provided by an ugly iron beam, all you see is there for decoration, and beam is still in appropriate position and supported firmly. I think there is a reasonably good chance of this, but wouldn’t bet the structural integrity of my house on it. I’d do something along the lines of what dat says to investigate.

  • Looks like dry rot. Go get some 2x4s to support the roof. (Don’t use 4x4s as they may not be straight). Then you can use the back of a hammer and pry of the rotted wood around the base. Do a little at a time. Most likely the rotted wood is just a cheap frame and the wrong type of wood was used. If it is just the frame and not the pole itself, this is an easy fix. You can use the old pieces to cut new ones. Just make sure you exterior treated wood.

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