Concrete stairs on front porch are crooked, best way to fix?

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cookymonster
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Concrete stairs on front porch are crooked, best way to fix?

Post by cookymonster » Tue Jan 14, 2020 3:33 pm

I'm hoping to sell my house this year. When I bought it, the stairs on the front porch were sloping to the right.
It hasn't been a big deal to me, but it would be nice if I could figure out how to fix it. I don't think the problem has worsened since I bought the house about four years ago. I'm terrible at handywork, which is one reason I want to sell.

Three years ago, I called a concrete lifting business in town. I think they charged about $400, but I couldn't see any improvement.
They gave me a refund.

How would any of you try to deal with this issue? I see about four options:

1. See if there is another concrete lifting business that can succeed even though this didn't work the first time.
2. See if a handyman can add extra concrete to each step to "level" them. They would then presumably have to be painted.
3. Destroy the steps with a jackhammer and start from scratch. Presumably a four figure project.
4. Leave it alone and let the buyer handle it.

Thanks all.

Image

BuckyBadger
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Re: Concrete stairs on front porch are crooked, best way to fix?

Post by BuckyBadger » Tue Jan 14, 2020 3:41 pm

I had the *exact* same issue. The solution was to "mudjack" them. I also did it right before selling the house - we'd just dealt with them for years.

I paid a friend in construction two cases of Miller High Life.

Even if I'd had to pay real money it was going to be much MUCH less than any other option.

(Mudjacking consists of drilling narrow holes down through the concrete on the low side, then forcing mud down through the holes. Maybe he then put a little concrete in the top of the hole when he was done? I don't actually know. But the mud jacks up the low side of the steps.)

*ETA* I'm wondering if your "concrete lifting" company did mudjacking? If so, they didn't do a good job! It worked GREAT wit my steps.

zlandar
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Re: Concrete stairs on front porch are crooked, best way to fix?

Post by zlandar » Tue Jan 14, 2020 7:02 pm

My front stairs became crooked from settling. Had a couple quotes and went with a company that used a combination of injectable foam and a single drilled anchor into the ground.

https://concrete-leveling.aquaguard.net ... -concrete/

Came with a 5 year warranty where they would come back and "fix" any future settling issues. It's been almost 3 years and no issues so far.

It was over a $1k so might be more than you want to spend.

ZMonet
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Re: Concrete stairs on front porch are crooked, best way to fix?

Post by ZMonet » Tue Jan 14, 2020 7:15 pm

Tell the buyer that the slope is a feature to ensure water runs off the steps so they don't get too icy.

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Bernard
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Re: Concrete stairs on front porch are crooked, best way to fix?

Post by Bernard » Tue Jan 14, 2020 9:10 pm

The line of action depends on the value of your house, the local market, meaning, how easy or how difficult it is to sell a house, and whether additional investments will provide a return. Not knowing any of this . . . if you can fix this for $400 or $500, I think that's a path I would take, given that it's the entryway to the home. If you were asking if a new concrete driveway for $10K is something to do now shortly before selling the house, my answer would be a different one. Generally speaking, any small investment that improves the general impression of the property, such as landscaping, interior paint, new hardware on cabinets, a new toilet, etc., is money well spent.

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cookymonster
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Re: Concrete stairs on front porch are crooked, best way to fix?

Post by cookymonster » Tue Jan 14, 2020 9:17 pm

I called up a couple of other concrete leveling firms besides the one that didn't get the job done three years ago. It's after hours. Hopefully they will get back to me tomorrow and provide reasonable estimates.

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Watty
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Re: Concrete stairs on front porch are crooked, best way to fix?

Post by Watty » Tue Jan 14, 2020 9:29 pm

Bernard wrote:
Tue Jan 14, 2020 9:10 pm
The line of action depends on the value of your house, the local market, meaning, how easy or how difficult it is to sell a house, and whether additional investments will provide a return.
+1

If you will be using a real estate agent to sell your house you should ask them how the steps will impact selling your house and if they think that you should fix them.

One problem is that the white patches in the steps look like the concrete has already been pretty heavily patched already so even if they were level they would still be in pretty bad shape. It was not clear but the white areas did not really look like it was just the difference between wet and dry areas.

That might be OK in an inexpensive house in the midwest but it would still be an issue if the house is in an expensive area.

Some potential buyers might want to do an upgrade to the front porch if it will need to be worked on so there is a chance that you could spend money have it leveled only to have the buyer tear it out anyway.

paulomaia684
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Re: Concrete stairs on front porch are crooked, best way to fix?

Post by paulomaia684 » Tue Jan 14, 2020 9:51 pm

I would probably get them covered with bluestone and at the same time level them out with more mortar.

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fortfun
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Re: Concrete stairs on front porch are crooked, best way to fix?

Post by fortfun » Tue Jan 14, 2020 10:09 pm

This happened at my first house. I used a $10 wood splitting wedge to fix it.
https://www.harborfreight.com/5-lb-wood ... jwQAvD_BwE

First, used a shovel to dig a very small hole under step (where it needed to be raised). Placed a small concrete block/brick into the hole (under the step). Put the wedge between the step and concrete block. Then use a sledge hammer to pound the wedge inbetween the step and the concrete block. Then I backfilled under the step with gravel. Worked like a champ on my step.

kevinf
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Re: Concrete stairs on front porch are crooked, best way to fix?

Post by kevinf » Tue Jan 14, 2020 11:55 pm

cookymonster wrote:
Tue Jan 14, 2020 3:33 pm
3. Destroy the steps with a jackhammer and start from scratch. Presumably a four figure project.
It doesn't have to be. Sledgehammers are inexpensive. Lumber is inexpensive.

Detach the rusting railing, break the steps up, build a wood staircase. Refurbish and reuse the metal railing or build new wood railing. Load the scraps up in your vehicle of choice and drive it to the dump.

You live in an area that gets snow, so frost heave and freeze/thaw cycle damage is always going to be an issue with masonry. You can let the lumber float and replace damaged boards piecemeal. Wood doesn't have the thermal mass of concrete either so they will allow snow and ice to melt faster.

shess
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Re: Concrete stairs on front porch are crooked, best way to fix?

Post by shess » Wed Jan 15, 2020 12:16 am

cookymonster wrote:
Tue Jan 14, 2020 3:33 pm
How would any of you try to deal with this issue? I see about four options:

1. See if there is another concrete lifting business that can succeed even though this didn't work the first time.
2. See if a handyman can add extra concrete to each step to "level" them. They would then presumably have to be painted.
3. Destroy the steps with a jackhammer and start from scratch. Presumably a four figure project.
4. Leave it alone and let the buyer handle it.
Once Upon A Time, we purchased a house from a developer, and in their zeal to get rid of this property, they didn't do the sale as-is. In inspection, the chimney was deemed unsafe at some height (we're in earthquake country), and after some fooforaf, the seller had their contractors tear it down to that height and rebuild it.

On the one hand, that was better for us than having to pay to do it ourselves. On the other hand, we didn't WANT the chimney and the fireplace it was on top of. If we had our preference, we'd have rather they gave us cash that we could have folded into a more-aggressive project. But since they were doing the job in house, they weren't interested in settling in cash.

Which is a roundabout way of saying that it would suck to put $2500 or something into fixing this, only to have the new owners rip out the porch and replace it. I'd rather bring it up and have the seller say "Eh, it's been that way as long as we've been here, like four years ... I dunno, what do you think it's worth, like $1000?"

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Sandtrap
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Re: Concrete stairs on front porch are crooked, best way to fix?

Post by Sandtrap » Wed Jan 15, 2020 12:29 am

#4
Leave it alone. Let the buyer handle it.
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Teague
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Re: Concrete stairs on front porch are crooked, best way to fix?

Post by Teague » Wed Jan 15, 2020 1:02 am

I second letting the buyer handle it. It may not even get their attention, or if it does, it may not be much of a concern to them.
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3feetpete
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Re: Concrete stairs on front porch are crooked, best way to fix?

Post by 3feetpete » Wed Jan 15, 2020 8:13 am

From the photo it looks like the stairs violate building codes which require the rise on every step to be equal. This requirement is for safety as unequal rises cause trips and falls. It appears that the rise varies from left to right on each step and the top rise looks greater than the other steps. If this is the case, no amount of jacking or repair will fix it.

Any building inspector will point this out to the prospective buyer and it could end up killing the deal. Better to demolish the steps and build new to code. This way you get to control the costs. Get several quotes from reputable contractors and make it right before you put up for sale.

CheepSkate
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Re: Concrete stairs on front porch are crooked, best way to fix?

Post by CheepSkate » Wed Jan 15, 2020 4:51 pm

Build wood steps over the top of the concrete steps and leave the concrete steps hidden underneath.

But I think floating out the steps level with new concrete would be even easier than that. Under a coat of porch paint it will look great.

Does the roof drip onto the steps and contribute to the settling? If so, better install a French drain or your foundation will be next!

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lthenderson
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Re: Concrete stairs on front porch are crooked, best way to fix?

Post by lthenderson » Thu Jan 16, 2020 9:23 am

These sorts of repairs rarely get your money back with increased sale price. I would leave it for the next person.

FI4LIFE
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Re: Concrete stairs on front porch are crooked, best way to fix?

Post by FI4LIFE » Thu Jan 16, 2020 11:08 am

If the rest of the house is nice, I wouldn't do anything.

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