New York City
Washington DC Metro
Northern New Jersey
open house planner
manhattan condo market index
submit your listings
why sign up?
Become an Insider
post your listings
i saw an apartment last week in a relatively new building (probably late 80s/early 90s) and the floors were noticeably sloped/uneven. The agent said this was due to the "settling" of the building and that it's quite common. I've been in and lived in many other apartments and never noticed this (both prewar and post war). I've only seen it in older homes outside of the city. Is this really common and should it cause any concern?
Was the building built new or rehabbed? I'm assuming it's wood framed and not steel framed?
My building is c. 1970 but was gut rehabbed and expanded from an original structure. The architect put new floors above mostly old framing/joists. Most of the units have some degree of sloping floors. Various home inspectors, the building engineer, and the structural engineer we hired when renovating seem to think it's not a major concern and typical of a structure originally from the 19th century.
I must have looked at 50 or so places in the village, mostly pre-war, and yeah I'd say half of them had sloping floors. While sellers brokers would always say "no big deal" for me it was a deal-breaker, literally on one apartment that was terribly uneven. I even had a contractor come in to see how much to fix and learned it was very, very difficult to fix. I say if it bugs you, avoid it. And you are not alone! Not sure why a newer building would slope except if like lad says it is really an old building that was rehabbed.
I dont get it...why is it so difficult to fix it? can't they layer (concrete or some base layer) more on the sloped surface and make it all even?
Interested to here Primer's and other's view but my friend (a house builder from Connecticut, not licensed in NY ie no vested interested, was never actually considering doing the work) said the issue was the job was enormously manually intensive and time consuming:
1. Remove current floor
2. That leaves sub-floor which is sloped. So need to uses shims to manually even it out.
3. Put in new floor
He said $25K-$25K was fair price for 700 sq foot 1BR WALK-UP on the 3rd floor. Walk-up he said was an input to the price. And, in the end, no gaurantee it won't re-slope over time. So I passed on an otherwise great apartment.
It is more common then you think. I do not think it is cause for concern but i do not think it was from "settling" that is an easy word to use for imperfections in an apartment but that is usually for moldings and loss of grout,etc.
Newer buildings have concrete flooring so we use self level (not cheap) which is concrete based that is poured and does what it says. However in some of the buildings the pitch is so bad that if we did the whole floor it would rise above the entrance door that we are not allowed to cut down. This makes the project very difficult as we have to pick our spots to level.
If there is not a concrete sub floor then we would need to use shims but I would not call it enormously intensive and not very time consuming 25k seems very high to me. I think it would be closer to 15k
If you see a newer building that has installed a floating floor I would suspect that the floor is uneven. You will be able to notice by looking at the ceiling to see if that has a pitch. It is important because not everyone loves a floating floor and if you want to change it you will run into having to level the floor first
if you are planning to replace the floor anyway, the repitching should not affect the price enough for you not to buy.
i think the biggest issue to look at is where the pitch is going from the front door. if the door is the highest point, you have no problem. the otherway..... you're screwed if the pitch is significant (more then an inch)
thanks all for your comments. i just researched and the building was built in 1980 and is a high rise. Of course that seems new to me, but is over thirty years. the strange thing is that the floor seemed new, so it's surprising that they didn't try to even it out when they replaced it. perhaps it was a cost factor. good to know there are no major concerns and that it seems it can be remedied per Primer.
repitching a floor is easy, we did it in our place in brooklyn heights 4 years ago. This photo gives you a good example of whats involved
Though there are a series of photos there showing how the leveling strips, then new subfloor etc and laid in to provide a level construction base.
hurting, I'd hesitate about that building. If it's a 1980s high-rise then it's reinforced-concrete construction. Those buildings don't "settle".
A sloping floor means the concrete slab wasn't properly leveled as it was poured. If the builder was so slap-dash about something so fundamental, you have to wonder what else is wrong.
@Primer: my guy's quote was with a new floor (high quality)- is yours? I assume not. Building is pre-war. So I think you both are on the same page re $$ though he was less optimistic than this board about the results holding over time - he felt the shims would re-settle with the line of the building. (Concrete pouring was evidently not an option due to entry door height.)
I think he meant 15k including new floor. 25k seems very high.
Why would the shims re-settle? I'd be worried if it did.
Is it some kind of exotic wood or is just select grade white oak? A high quality pre-finished floor is expensive but if its a 3/4" oak that gets sanded, stained and poly then the wood itself is not that big of an expense. Your not doing anything like a chevron pattern right?
Is it near the second Ave subway construction site??????????????????
Primer: it was going to just be "basic" high quality, nothing fancy. So yes he estimated it would cost me ~ $25K including the new floor working with a NYC contractor. He was not giving me his own quote... he is from Conn. Maybe prices in Fairfield county are even higher than Manhattan? ;)
BertaNY: I was looking at the condo at 72-74 East 3rd Street a few years ago. I considered an making an offer but passed due to walk-up & sloped floor.
I recently replaced over 300 ft of flooring in a badly sloping pre-war
elevator building with high quality wideplank maple and a proper under-
base. Your cost should be under $10,000