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Old 10-18-2012, 12:50 PM   #1
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converting a great room into upper and lower room


Hey all,

We have a "great room" that has 20 foot ceilings. The first floor has 10 foot ceilings. Basically, we're considering putting a floor/ceiling across the great room. So our current great room would just have 10 foot ceilings vs. 20 foot, and there would be a new room above.

The current room is about 15 feet wide by about 23 feet long.

This is existing construction in a 13 year old finished house.

Is this a crazy idea, or has it been done before?

As I look at the current space - it would be ideal if literally, I could snap my fingers and have that floor/ceiling in place. I say this because all the drywall, paint, window locaitons are perfect. Obviously I'd ideally want to keep what's already done looking good.

So I wonder if I could somehow take off a strip of drywall horizontally 10 feet up on all sides, and run joists across the room to the existing walls. I wonder if there is already a header in the existing walls about 10 feet up. Maybe I could use a ledger board or joist hangers then.

The only other possibility I see would be putting up completely new framing up/against the drywall on the first floor, 10 feet high, to create something for the new joists to sit on. But that would shrink the size of the lower room by about 4.5 inches on all sides and I'd have to re-drywall.

Any ideas here?

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Old 10-18-2012, 01:52 PM   #2
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converting a great room into upper and lower room


What about a mezzanine floor?

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Old 10-18-2012, 01:53 PM   #3
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converting a great room into upper and lower room


I would never attach framing member through drywall, I always use wood to wood connection. should the drywall be damaged then you do not have a tight connection.

I do not know how your Great Room exterior wall is framed. It should have been framed with tall wall studs going from the subfloor to the top of the wall. I have seen these framed with basically two walls stacked on top of each other. Myself, I would want to know how the wall was framed.

In typical Western or Platform framing (typical framing of today) floor joists sit on top of walls.

Attaching a ledger to the interior side of the wall, or along side the exterior wall stud is basically balloon framing. You would have to install fire blocking per the building code. click the link for code requirements.

if you have a basement then you probably have a center beam that the floor joists are supported on. since you are adding additional load onto the beam you should have the beam evaluated based upon the new loads and the span between supports. Again, I do not know what you have or the capacity of your beam. This link will provide you with prescriptive span requirements for center beams based upon the 2009 International Residential Code.

I see some redrywalling in your future.

I'm certain you will get more comments. Good luck!
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Old 10-18-2012, 02:20 PM   #4
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converting a great room into upper and lower room


What you want to do is perfectly reasonable and doable, no worries.
I just got the approval from the local Building Department on a project very similar to what you are looking to do.
Needed engineering as we are in a seismic D category but that was no big deal.

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Old 10-18-2012, 04:16 PM   #5
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converting a great room into upper and lower room


Andy - what was the general process or how was it framed or built?
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Old 10-18-2012, 05:03 PM   #6
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converting a great room into upper and lower room


We have done a few of these as well. Having it properly engineered is very important. As someone said earlier, the existing beam and post will need to be evaluated to insure that they can handle the increased loads. The ledger idea is fine but fastening must be done wood to wood with proper fastener size and spacing.
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Old 10-18-2012, 05:20 PM   #7
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converting a great room into upper and lower room


The process is typical:
!. Construct an architectural set of plans that show all pertinent information like the Site plan, Floor plans (exist. & new) elevations if required, exist. framing details, electrical plans, plumbing plans etc.
2. Send plans and pictures showing the existing framing etc. to engineer for structural design.
3. co-ordinate all sets of plans with other needed info like Energy calcs. (Calif.) etc.
4. Submit to Planning and Building Departments. Pay plan check fee.
5. Wait for approval and or corrections.
6. resubmit with any revisions and/or corrections.
7. Wait.
8. Pick up approved set after paying for permits.

Build the bloody thing.

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Old 10-18-2012, 06:44 PM   #8
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converting a great room into upper and lower room


the others are right. theres nothing wrong at all with what you want to do. you can very easily attach a lvl ledger board to the studs as long as they are bolted and the joists your using are rated for the span required. .

youll have to add one or two circuits to the panel for the electrical to pass as your now creating new rooms

hopefully you dont have tallwalls that are built the way gbr mentioned. building them that way would never pass a proper inspection both by a regular inspector or a engineer. the reason being it creates a hinge point. ive built several of these walls both for high end custom homes and large additions, any wall taller than 14' has to be constructed from engineered lumber studs either lvl studs or timberstrand studs to meet proper deflection ratings under wind loads

the only real consideration i can think of is how does the new floor height effect the existing windows. almost all of the tallwalls ive built are basically a large wall of glass.. mostly windows. you dont want your floor system running through a window. all windows that are 6" or less off a finished floor must be tempered glass, so check your floor elevation in regards to the windows
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