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forcedreno2012 11-09-2012 11:37 PM

Hurricane rebuild - Can you have too much of a beam??
Hello all, I have been glued to this forum after getting flooded from Issac and Id like to thank you all for your advice you share with others, I have learned alot over the last few weeks and am looking forward to learning much more over the coming months.

We got 4 feet of water throughout the house and so we have had to gut the thing and replace all appliances hvac, electrical yadda yadda. The local county has been amazing with respect to issuing permits and generally helping us out.

We figured if we have to rebuild then now is the time to make changes and two of those changes involve removing some load bearing walls. One wall is 15' and one is 12'. We have gotten the permit from the county based on using a 3-1/8 x 13-1/2 enigneered beam. The house was built in 1970 and does not have engineered trusses it is stick framed with the joists being 2 x6 that overlap each other in the middle for a foot or so. The beam would be under the overlapped part. There is only the roof above with no real attic space with the exception of crawling up there to adjust / fix wiring. The roof itself is a very low pitched roof.

The local lumberyard (that has been amazing giving us contractor prices etc) seems to think that we are over doing it using an engineered beam. The county says that we are fine and engineered is better than dimensional lumber. Im a nervous nelly when it comes to stuff like this but can you have too much beam? Am I overdoing it?

Thanks in advance


user1007 11-10-2012 07:00 AM

Remember your home is, at the end of the day, supported by your foundation. If you are planning to add heavier beams and support structure you may have to enhance the foundation. You need to make sure loads on the new beam are properly transferred to the foundation for sure.

If you have not, you really should sit down with a home designer, architect, structural engineer, etc. (they are not just for the rich) to discuss your options---especially if you are making significant changes to partially remaining structure. You will no doubt need drawings and signoffs for permits and inspections anyhow.

A little spent with a structural expert would ease your concerns I should think and be well worth the money. Perhaps steel would be a better option than an engineered beam. It will be hard for any of us to comment without seeing drawings and the home as it stands now.

If you happen to have the original drawings for the house, definitely bring them along for discussion.

hand drive 11-10-2012 08:16 AM

how long are the 2x6 joists? it seems like for the 12' opening you would not need such a heavy beam to hold up ceiling weight only and maybe even for the longer beam as well...

tony.g 11-10-2012 10:47 AM

Depending on the actual width of ceiling which would be supported by the beam(s), a 13" deep beam seems a bit overkill, particularly on the shorter span.

Assuming it is just an attic above, the loading requirements are not usually that high (I think about 20psf live load and, say 10psf max. for the ceiling itself, which is not a lot).
It is easily possible to work out the optimum size of dimensioned timber if we know the area of ceiling being supported.

As sdsester explained, you will need to consider other matters, such as how to support the beams themselves. When you install a beam in place of a wall, what was once an evenly distributed load becomes 2 concentrated point loads. Your supporting structure needs to be checked and an SE or similar would be best able to advise.

forcedreno2012 11-10-2012 11:39 PM

Thanks for the replies. I was actually suprised about not needing SE drawings for the permit after reading here but it has already been issued and approved based on the engineered beam.

To answer some of the questions. One dude at the lumberyard quoted the bigger beam, and the other says its overkill.

The width of the house is only 30 feet, we have a looooong skinny rancher. (this is why we are removing some walls to open it up a bit)

At this point I will probably go with the bigger beam seeing as it wont hurt anything. I can live with the dropdown, just wasnt sure if it was a danger being so big.

On a happy note actually spent the day in the attic re-wiring some attic fans and a light switch up there and managed to complete it all without killing myself. :laughing:


hand drive 11-11-2012 08:01 AM

as is usually mentioned in the beam threads here, instead of one 3 1/2" thick beam, go with 2 single 1 3/4" thick beams installed one at a time later forming one beam unless you have a crew of workers to come in and put it up.

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