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130 yr old brick house shaking in wind

Dear All,

Please help brand new old house owner in need.

I have 130 yr old 3.5 story all brick Chicago workers cottage, about 20'X40'. No load bearing walls, floor joists 3x18, 12" center to center on first floor and getting slightly smaller going up. Brick walls on ground level are 17" thick, getting thinner as we go up, top floor has only one row of brick. The house is in great shape and has no visible cracks on brick, only some cracks in plaster. Flat roof, no other reno done than duckt work and one wall (parallel to joists) removed. Floor slightly sagging on second floor.

The house shakes during high wind gusts. It is a barely noticable hickup, not a sway like in high risers. I can imagine the wind blowing it to one direction and when it stops the house jerks and straightens itself back. My brain says that if it has survived for this long, it will outlive me. My nerves disagree. The house is colossal, it's brick, it should not jerk. Or should it?

Re: 130 yr old brick house shaking in wind


Sorry, but no one on here can answer that truthfully without seeing the structure. You will want to hire a structural engineer to look at that for you. One question I have, you say "No Load bearing walls". Then what is holding the roof up on 4 sides? And what is holding up the 2nd and 3rd stories?


Handy Andy In Mt Airy NC

Re: 130 yr old brick house shaking in wind


we have massive, wall to wall 20' joists embedded to the brick walls. So the walls are carrying all the weight and holding up the roof. The basement and top floor are one big 20x40 rooms. 130 year old open concept, I guess. Does this make sense?

Re: 130 yr old brick house shaking in wind

I couldn't tell you honestly, but my guess would be the home lacks any kind of diagonal bracing. I don't know that homes normally need anything like this because of the multiple supports, load bearing walls, and header and footer panels that help brace the home. It could be everything is just loose from the home being so old.

If the home shakes as you say, you may want to look around and be certain there are no cracks.


I assume you only feel the sway at the top floor, correct?

In my home, which is a 1983 built Sitterle custom luxury home (from the day), I can feel slight sway in one of the bedrooms that sits alone atop a portion of the roof that only shares one wall with the rest of the home (other than the floor). It sways slightly when I stand in the middle near the end of the room and try to shift my weight violently from one side to the other. I can feel slight moving.

I know this is as a result of some slight termite damage that existed prior to me buying the home (but that had been mitigated). I haven't replaced the header panel yet, but intend to when the rest of the home is done (it causes no structural issues).


In my Florida home though, which has CBS filled and poured concrete walls... it doesn't budge at all.

I would suspect at the very least, you'll want to get it looked at professionally. You don't want to spend any money on the house until you have the most critical parts of the home taken care of.

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