Garage Sinkhole

I am about 80% certain our garage is slowly falling into a sinkhole.

You remember our sad-looking garage, right? Unfortunately, I believe the garage overheard me telling my wife that I liked her curves, and got the wrong idea. This is not what I had in mind.

Sad Garage

The truth is that I don’t really mind our wonky garage. I couldn’t care less that the roof is sagging or that the walls aren’t plumb. What drives me batty, though, is the cracked and sloping concrete slab inside the garage. You can tell from the sagging eaves that the side entry door is the low-point for the entire structure.

Enter: Sinkhole.

Maybe. It’s sunk at least 6″, if not a full foot right under that door, and since the whole yard drains to that point, we get up to 6″ of standing water at that point. This past winter, the bottom of the door was underwater, so whenever the water would freeze, the door would also be frozen in place. Take a look at this slab:

Cracked Slab - Sinkhole?

Cracked Slab - Sinkhole?

I dunno. I think there may be a soils stability problem. The slab just seems to have sunk too much for this to be typical soils consolidation and settling.

The sad part about this is that the timber structure is actually still in great shape, considering the terrible condition of the foundation. Seems like a shame to tear down the whole garage just because I don’t like the sloping floors… but I’m tired of setting the lawn mower on one side and watching it roll across the garage to the low point.

We’ve considered a half-dozen options, but we’ve narrowed it down to the following:

1) Jack the sunken side of the building up into (sort of) place, and pour a new slab right over the top of the existing slab. Pros: this would be cheap, relatively easy, and would solve my primary complaint (the sloping floor). Cons: this wouldn’t pass muster with any sort of building code, and is only a temporary fix. A big unknown is exactly how much life we’d get out of the new slab before it looked just like the old slab. 1 year? 5 years?

2) Full tear-down and rebuild.  Pros: new, bigger, meets building codes. Cons: cost, have to deal with permits, very time consuming; if there is a sinkhole or soils issue, fixing it correctly could be a major can of worms I don’t want to open.

Hmm… what do you think? quick fix or expensive fix?

5 comments to Garage Sinkhole

  • I’d probably go the expensive route simply because of the lack of a guarantee for how long the quick fix would last. Sounds like a PITA. Good luck with it!

  • Moe

    You plan on staying in this house for a long time, right? I’d build the new garage and enjoy it.

  • I agree with both Joey and Moe… I would fork out the cash to do it right the first time. That way, you won’t have to worry and you can enjoy it. It will be a pain, you’re right. But, in the end, you won’t have just put a bandaid over the problem. And, honestly, who knows… you could go the cheap/easier route and end up having to redo it again in a few months anyway!

  • Man, I feel your pain. It’s not going to be cheap to rebuild the garage and it seems like you just use it for storage so it’s not like you want to spend 20k for a better lawn mower shed. On the other hand, I agree with the others that a temporary fix won’t last long. I’m starting to wonder if your garage even has footings. They might have just poured a couple inches of concrete on grade and hoped for the best. I’d get a couple free estimates from contractors to see what they’d do and how much it would cost. At the very least you’ll have a better feel for what’s wrong.

  • Moe

    I’d totally be fine with a shed and a car port, instead of a garage. I might have to look into that.