Back at the turn of the 20th century, miners flocked to the new town of Louisville, Colo., to work in its emerging coal industry. There must have been some skilled carpenters among them, because the town is filled with beautiful Victorian-era homes. Unfortunately, they built the foundations the same way they built coal mines, driving wood pilings into the ground and framing right on top of them. Over the years, those old wood foundations have failed and been replaced with a hodgepodge of stone, concrete, and block, none of which is particularly well-suited for the area's expansive clay soils.

Such was the history of my clients' house: The shallow spread-footing foundation that replaced the original perimeter pilings had settled over the years, causing the wood floors of the foursquare home to sag, buckle, and splinter.

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