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Old 11-11-2016, 01:45 PM   #1
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enclose a great room


Hey all,

I have room in my house that's 20 feet long by 15 feet wide and two stories high (probably about 18 feet). It has a set of high windows. It's a simple room and after sizing everything up, if I could snap my fingers and simply put joists across and a floor - I'd add an extra room to my house. There is nothing in the way, the existing floors/windows/etc. are all clear.

But my question is whether I could tie into the existing walls, or whether I'd need to built a new set of 2x4 studded framing and add it in the lower room over the existing walls (this shrinking that room by about 9 inches)...but giving me something to put the new floor joists above on.

Two of the walls are outside walls, and two inside. If I took off the drywall, I'd be curious to know if there was a header in the two-story wall in the middle, or just 2x4s running the full height. It's a pretty giant wall at about 18 feet high by 20 long. 2x4s on an exterior wall seem like they'd be flimsy. Maybe they are 2x6s.

If I could simply bolt a 2x10 horizontally around the room at about 9 feet up, then the job is really simple. I think I could put hang brackets in it for the new floor joists.

BTW - this current room is over a finished basement, so technically sort of on a second floor itself.
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Old 11-11-2016, 03:47 PM   #2
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Re: enclose a great room


I think that you want to build a STRONG structure under this proposed new room, you are forgetting the added weight of furnishings, and occupants, plus everything stored in it.

That can add up quite fast, and you don't want it to all come down on you.


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Old 11-11-2016, 04:37 PM   #3
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Re: enclose a great room


Turning a high-ceiling single story room into a two story structure would require a permit and I would assume the building department will require detailed engineer drawings, ensuring that it satisfies current standards of point loading, floor loading, etc., etc. Also, you say it currently has high windows, so I would assume new windows would be required in the new 'first floor' room. Add in upgrades to wiring, HVAC, etc.
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Old 11-12-2016, 06:56 AM   #4
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Re: enclose a great room


At least the heat/cool calc will change so you need to adjust your hvac there. If bedroom, smoke/co and escape access. Staircase and lighting. Outside foundation capacity for load is probably under-used but inside wall may require reinforcing post or even new footing. This definitely needs an engineer as well as other pros. The existing windows may come under new rules where windows need to be (I think) about 40" away from the floor.
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Old 11-14-2016, 12:30 PM   #5
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Re: enclose a great room


Great feedback guys. To shift gears for a moment, has anyone done this or seen this done? And if so, what appeared to be the most standard method (if there was one)?

I think generally the two options are to tie into existing walls, thus needing to do zero in the room below where all work happens up on the walls where the new floor/ceiling is going in.

Option two is building new sub-walls in the lower room to support the new ceiling/floor above it.

I'm really just trying to get a feel for whether there is a light at the end of the tunnel for this project or not.
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Old 11-14-2016, 03:55 PM   #6
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Re: enclose a great room


Many people add a second story onto their home, and always have to "beef up" the first floor to support the upper floor.

You are basically doing this inside the shell of the original.

Without knowing what the structure is for your existing room, there is no way that I nor most anyone else is going to be able to advise you to particulars.

You need to get the original plans for your home, to see how it was supposed to be built,( I say supposed to be, because often there was changes made that are not in the plans.).

And please consult a structural engineer for an opinion.

Your concept is appealing, BUT doing it is not going to be as easy as just bolting rim joists to the wall and building.

You need to make an access point, wiring, plumbing?, sound proofing, and many other factors to pass any inspections required to be habitable.



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Old 11-14-2016, 03:58 PM   #7
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Re: enclose a great room


WE have done it before. It will require an engineer, but it generally goes just like you are proposing.
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Old 11-15-2016, 04:18 PM   #8
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Re: enclose a great room


I would doubt that the studs run the full 18-odd feet unless it is a very old house. I would also doubt that you could simply attach a ledger to the existing walls. I would expect that you would be required to frame new walls to carry the load, which might also require additional support under the existing floor to accept that load. All will be revealed by an engineer. The question of access is a good point. If access is required from the now-first floor that will further complicate the design and framing.
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Old 11-15-2016, 07:00 PM   #9
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Re: enclose a great room


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Originally Posted by lenaitch View Post
I would doubt that the studs run the full 18-odd feet unless it is a very old house. I would also doubt that you could simply attach a ledger to the existing walls. I would expect that you would be required to frame new walls to carry the load, which might also require additional support under the existing floor to accept that load. All will be revealed by an engineer. The question of access is a good point. If access is required from the now-first floor that will further complicate the design and framing.
You would be wrong on most counts. Framing a wall that tall in two sections would result in a hinge which weakens the wall. We have done a lot of two story walls and typically they will be 2x6 framing. The ledger could be let into the wall so that it is fully supported, although this is probably not necessary.
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Old 11-16-2016, 04:32 PM   #10
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Re: enclose a great room


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You would be wrong on most counts. Framing a wall that tall in two sections would result in a hinge which weakens the wall. We have done a lot of two story walls and typically they will be 2x6 framing. The ledger could be let into the wall so that it is fully supported, although this is probably not necessary.
I stand corrected, thanks. I get the 'hinge' issue but I didn't think you could source 18' lumber these days.
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Old 11-16-2016, 09:56 PM   #11
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Re: enclose a great room


I have done more than a few additions. When I run into a situation such as yours, I always have a drawing of the proposed room addition. In my area, if it's less than 2,000sf I used my drawing program for the plan. ( Maybe not allowed in your area) I then take it my structural engineer to size the LVL beams needed to hold the load without adding walls to the under space. Then I submit those figures to the planning and Codes Administration for approval. Bear in mind you must provide the engineer with the existing and projected materials the framing will support. ie: walls, roof system, projected occupancy, furniture, etc. Your electrical contractor can get an electrical design from his engineer, as can the plumbing contractor if needed. submit all drawings at the same time to expedite the process.
Just a simple little room addition, Huh. lol Hope this helps.

P.S. If you don't have the skills required to perform this project, I suggest hiring a licensed contractor for the work. What you're planning is complicated, and can be dangerous !! And, it could be grounds for DIVORCE.
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Old 11-18-2016, 08:01 PM   #12
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Re: enclose a great room


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I stand corrected, thanks. I get the 'hinge' issue but I didn't think you could source 18' lumber these days.
From our suppliers, we can get up to 22' immediately, and can ordered up to 32' lengths.
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Old 12-09-2016, 05:43 PM   #13
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Re: enclose a great room


My parents have a house like this and I've suggested doing the same thing. If I were to do it I would do the following:

I'd go into the basement and look at all of the first floor i-joists. If they are all the same then it means that you can support the weight, no modifications needed. If the joists under the great room are weaker (unlikely) then you can't do it without professional help.

Then I would pull of a bit of drywall to hang ledgers on opposite load-bearing walls. I would run the joists and then finish the room.

I would not frame new walls to support the new floor without professional help. Doing so risks putting loads where they are unexpected.

I would make sure to keep the room open enough (maybe a balcony to the great room below) to compensate for the lack of hvac vents. You hvac system is already conditioning the air so it is strong enough, the problem is that it won't have the right airflow.
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