Please note: I am obviously not a tradesman, otherwise I wouldn't be on this site asking this question. However, in five years of home ownership I have: re-roofed my garage, resanded all the hardwood floors in our upstairs, built a large fence for our back yard, built a patio for said back yard, done plumbing, done some electrical and recessed lighting, etc... In other words: A lot of times on this site I seem to get answers like "If you're even asking this question you should get a contractor/professional to do this!" And then I go ahead and I do "this" all by myself and it works out looking pretty darned good. All this to say: I'm 99.999% sure that I can do this project myself, even if I've never done this sort of thing before!

When we bought our home five years ago, the only note the inspector made was that one of the foundation walls in our basement was slightly bowing inward, and that within 3 - 6 years we would need to reinforce it with "I-beams".

Well I believe that time has come. Immediately below is a picture showing the bowing, and below that are pictures showing all the cracks that have started to form:

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What kind of "I-beams" should I be using, and how many? This is a 1700 sq. ft., 2-story colonial house if that helps any. I am assuming I need to (or rather, should) space them evenly apart, yes?

Budget-wise, I need something that works, but don't need something that could lift up the moon. Any ideas as to where I can start looking?

2 Answers 2


If you want to install it yourself, great. But I suggest you start by having an engineer look at the application and calculate your requirements. Could be well worth the investment.

  • Agree about the engineer... one thing they'll probably look at is how the exterior fill is impacting the wall, and if that's part of the problem. Commented May 24, 2015 at 16:43
  • Thirded. This is a situation where engineering expertise is well worth paying for even if you implement the recommended fixes yourself. Since I have a contractor I like and trust, and who is happy to work with do-it-yourselfers, I'd also ask him for an estimate and discuss which arts he thinks I can handle, which need expertise, and which are within my scope but would involve enough hassle or investment in tools that I might want to farm them out.
    – keshlam
    Commented May 24, 2015 at 20:11
  • Thanks @edwardt (+1) - can I ask: what sort of "engineer" is best suited for this type of estimation/calculation? Perhaps a civil engineer that does residential? Is there a name for this type of profession that I could easily look up online? Thanks again!
    – smeeb
    Commented May 27, 2015 at 8:52
  • You might have good luck starting with a local architectural firm that designs houses. They might either have that resource in-house or could direct you toward someone they know and trust.
    – Edwardt
    Commented May 27, 2015 at 20:06

The inspector may have meant a vertical I-Beam.

As far as how many to use, while hiring an engineer is the safest route, consider buying the For Pros By Pros "Foundations and Concrete Work" as a resource to guide you should you consider attempting (risking?) to tackle this without an engineer's help.

  • Hello, and welcome to Home Improvement. Thanks for the answer; keep 'em coming. And, good work taking our tour before posting; few newbies do. Commented Jan 1, 2020 at 11:53

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