What is restumping a house?
Restumping, also known as reblocking, is when the existing stumps under a house are replaced with new ones. A house may undergo a full restumping (where all stumps are replaced) or a partial restumping (if some of the stumps are still in good condition). Restumping will commonly involve replacing deteriorated timber stumps – for example, those that have rotted or suffered termite damage – with concrete, galvanised steel or rot-resistant timber stumps.
Restumping can be an important home improvement, because stumps support the structure of the house they sit under. According to building inspection company Housepect, if left untreated, defective stumps can lead to structural damage and potentially result in the house totally or partially collapsing.
What does restumping a house involve?
Generally, the process will begin with a professional assessing which stumps need to be replaced. According to restumping provider Australian Reblocking, this often involves inspecting the stumps for decay, as well using a level to see how even the floor is.
Before starting work, the soil underneath your house should typically also be checked. Global Reblocking says an engineer should assess how deep the stumps should be, depending on the soil condition. This may help to avoid problems in the future.
The next step is jacking up the house and removing the defective stumps. The remaining stump holes may then be reused, or further digging may be required if they aren’t deep enough.
Next, the new stumps will be positioned, ensuring the house will sit level. Once these have all been installed, the house will then be lowered onto the new stumps and secured.
How much does restumping a house cost?
According to tradie listings website HIREtrades, fully restumping a small to average-sized home with one to three bedrooms could set homeowners back around $10,000 to $25,000, or potentially more depending on the specifics of the job. Building inspection company Action Property Inspections estimates the cost of restumping a typical home to be between $10,000 to $30,000, depending on the number of stumps that need replacing.
While these estimates may give you an idea of typical costs, bear in mind that due to the COVID-19 pandemic there has been a sharp spike in the cost of many renovation and construction projects. According to the Cordell Construction Cost Index released by CoreLogic, construction costs rose by more in the three months to September 2021 than they have at any time since late 2000 (after the introduction of the GST).
CoreLogic’s Research Director Tim Lawless said the rise in prices is because more people are building houses after a surge in dwelling approvals, which is being compounded by a severe shortage of materials due to supply chain disruption.
“For anyone who is looking to build or to renovate, or for someone who owns a business involved in the residential construction industry, it means they are all likely to be facing significantly higher costs,” he said.
The Housing Industry Association (HIA) also reports that it has been more difficult for builders to find skilled tradespeople. The lack of supply also puts upward pressure on prices.
What factors can impact the cost of restumping a house?
In addition to cost fluctuations caused by supply chain issues and other disruption due to the pandemic, the factors that may impact the end cost of a restumping job can include:
- Number of stumps being replaced. Global Reblocking says that in Melbourne, for instance, the average price per stump is between $500 and $700.
- Stump material. Galvanised steel stumps are generally the most expensive option, according to Dion Seminara Architecture. However, these are low maintenance and will typically last for a long time. On the other hand, timber stumps are the cheapest option (cheaper than concrete stumps) but they usually won’t last as long.
- Space underneath your house. The lower your house is to the ground, the more difficult it could be for builders to access the stumps underneath it. According to house stump supplier LevelMaster, in some cases workers may need to excavate or lift the floor boards in order to restump the house, which can add to the costs involved.
- Soil condition. Poor soil conditions can also make the restumping process more expensive.
- Existing foundations. If the existing foundations can be reused, this may cut down on time and costs.
- Existing stump holes. Similarly, if the existing stump holes are reusable, this can also save time and money, as it could mean less digging work is required.
What are the finance options for restumping a house?
Before you dive into the work, thinking about the most suitable way to pay for your renovation to restump your house is an essential step.
Depending on your situation, your options could include:
- paying out of your own pocket – using your savings or a mortgage offset account or redraw facility, if you have one on your home loan
- refinancing your home loan to a larger amount
- starting a line of credit loan
- applying for a new loan – you may be able to use a personal loan or a construction loan, depending on your personal circumstances.
Your credit score can impact the interest rate you are offered on some loan products. You can check your credit score for free with Canstar. It’s always a good idea to ask a lender for a copy of relevant documents, such as a Product Disclosure Statement (PDS) and Target Market Determination (TMD) that may apply, as part of considering your financing options.
How do I know if my house needs restumping?
In addition to visibly rotted or otherwise deteriorated stumps, some common signs that your house may need restumping are:
- doors and windows sticking or not opening and closing properly
- the floor sloping in one direction
- sagging or uneven floors
- cracking interior and exterior walls
- floors that feel spongy or bouncy underfoot
How long does it take to restump a house?
How long restumping takes will depend on a number of factors, including whether you are completely or partially restumping your home. According to Queensland House Restumping, a full home restumping project takes on average seven to nine days, depending on the size of the house. If only a few stumps are being replaced, Queensland House Restumping says it will take approximately one to three days. If existing palings or batons require fitting or if any conduit or taps require re-fitting, this service may also be offered by professionals.
As mentioned above, supply constraints due to the pandemic could mean it will take longer than usual for your builder to source the materials and labour needed for the job.
Additional reporting by Sean Callery. Cover image source:Dean Howe Photography/Shutterstock.com.