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My house was built in 1928 (in Altadena, CA). My detached garage looks like the same vintage, but I don't know for sure. On at least 2 of the garage walls, there are shims between the sill/mud plate and most of the studs. Many of these shims are not actually supporting weight--they can be shifted by hand. A lot of the structure seems to be held up by stucco, or something.

Why would this be? Does it mean that the foundation (concrete block walls) was added as a retrofit?

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Means either the base wasn't flat or they cut their studs too short. You really shouldn't shim load bearing studs but we do it all the time with non load bearing. Ooops.

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    Or the ground settled a bit in spots, or the lumber shrunk over time, or.... – isherwood Apr 1 '16 at 20:44
  • @isherwood - i would hope its not right on the ground... I guess you could shim if the lumber shrunk but I don't know if I have ever witnessed lumber shrinking enough to require a shim - and how did they know it shrunk? – DMoore Apr 1 '16 at 20:50
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    If the ground settled and the footing sank, the stucco and wall boards could be a sufficient shear unit to retain position. – isherwood Apr 1 '16 at 21:12
  • When you add a shim to a stud in new construction, do you put it under the stud? Wouldn't it be more stable if the shim were at the top? (Dunno, just asking.) – Phil Esra Apr 3 '16 at 6:19

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