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Old 10-31-2015, 01:16 AM   #1
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The Beam Project


Getting close to the end of The Beam Project. Everyone I know knows of The Beam Project. You'd almost think they were tired of hearing about it.

The Beam Project consists of picking up a two story house, removing the old bent, cracked wooden beam, rickety columns, and miscellaneous shoring that has somehow managed to hold the house up for 85 years and install two steel I-beams, steel columns, sister up some excessively flexible floor joists and (thanks to St. Louis County) add hardwired smoke detectors.

Here are the 26' 4" long W6X16 beams delivered:

420 lbs apiece. And except for the actual picking up of the beams and shoving them through the foundation wall, it's been a solo project.http://www.diychatroom.com/images/smilies/vs_karate.gif Which is why it's taken over two years.

Background: The house is appx 1,500 square foot craftsman bungalow. Officially, it's a 1 1/2 story house. I call it a 1 3/4 story since the upstairs rooms are essentially full height. The house was built in 1927. When I was talking with the engineer who signed the plans, he pointed out that 1927 was the middle of the Roaring '20s, there was a housing boom going on, and that tends to get people into the house building business who shouldn't be. This house shows some of that. Otherwise known as, "If we had known then (when we were buying it) what we know now, we'd have run away screaming."

There are two structural walls on the first and second floors that encompass the hallway and stairway on the first and second floors. Good so far. But the beam was not placed under either of the structural walls. It runs down the center of the first floor hallway. The front structural wall is offset by some 18 inches. The rear structural wall by 4 1/2 feet. The floor joists to the front are 15 1/2 foot long 2x10s. They are too long just for a floor. With the wall sitting on them, they developed a pronounced bow of around 3/4 inch. The back of the house, however, appeared to have failed completely. My guess is that either while the house was going up, or shortly thereafter, somebody realized that the back of the house was sagging and they jacked it up and put up shoring (random 4x4 and 2x6 structures) that alleviated the sag. There were no footings. The shoring rested on the basement floor. The main beam was a triple 2x8 beam on 6x6 wooden columns. When we bought the house, one of the columns had been replaced with a column jack which stayed in place until last year. The beam itself had sagged over an inch. Between the sagging beam and sagging joists, the ridge line of the house had taken on a Japanese temple flare. And that's how the house sat for over 8 decades.

Before anyone asks, I drew up the plans, a Professional Engineer sealed them and St. Louis County Dept of Public Works blessed, permitted and has been inspecting the proceedings.

(More to come)
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Old 11-07-2015, 01:28 AM   #2
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Screw it. No pictures. Just pretend you can see my hands waving while I write.

De PLANS! De PLANS!

The design of the beam project evolved over about three years of looking at the rotting beam and thinking, "How could I replace that?" There were a number of constraints that I identified that got to the final solution.

1. Can't increase the load on the foundation walls or the existing footings. The base of the house was made with hand mixed, hand poured concrete of unknowable properties beyond that it successfully carried its current loads. Any attempt to reduce the columns, going from two to one for instance, would increase the load on the beam pockets without any way of knowing beforehand what they can carry. That fixed the number of columns per beam to two. It also meant I couldn't try to move the load from the back of the house (behind the stairway) to the beam and the back foundation wall because it would increase loads. That meant two beams would be required to support the two load bearing walls.

2. I wanted 6' 4" head room. I want to be able to walk around the basement without stooping (old house means low basement ceiling) That meant notching the joists about 2" to use the 6" high beam. Not the duct work right next to the beam is only about 6' 1". I am adept at walking through that part of the basement hunched over. But the duct is a different problem. If I put the beam lower than 6' 4", it will never move again. The duct is still out in the future...and in reality the answer is my wife is 5' 5" so the duct isn't really a problem (for her).

3. At the time I was sitting down and actually sizing the beam, the wife and I were contemplating a 6 ft addition to the back of the house. Not a 6 ft room mind you. I mean pushing the back wall 6 ft back, enlarging the back rooms on both floors. While I eventually came to my senses that that would be astoundingly difficult for no actual change in the flow of the house, it did result in the two beams being identical. After I came to my senses on the bump out, I chose not to redesign the back beam because the savings of a lighter beam would only be marginal ($50-$100) and I didn't want to delay the submittal any more.

I could write a whole dissertation on the trials and tribulations of trying to find a useable, affordable CAD drafting program. I have tried a bunch and in every case I just can't get them to start a simple coordinate system. This is ironic considering I have used CAD extensively at work. CATIA, Unigraphics. Other proprietary systems. I even taught the in house classes. But I can't get the little commercial systems to work. I've considered programming my own system that used a familiar user interface. (Like I have time for that). So with all the different programs (under $100) available, I used Powerpoint and just did it in Powerpoint graphics on 8 1/2 x 11 paper. And nobody batted an eyelash at them.

First submittal of the plans to St. Louis County Dept of Public Works was Aug '13. It was returned with a requirement to get signed by an engineer. I'M an engineer. But not a structural engineer. So I had to hire an engineer to sign and seal the plans. Two hundred seventy five dollars later my plans, unchanged, had somebody else's stamp and signature on them and I resubmitted the plans.

I make light of the engineer sign off, but I actually got good service from the company. The engineer did come out, inspect the site, reviewed the plans. We talked some alternatives. We talked old houses. When the public works people bounced the second submittal because all of the sheets weren't individually sealed, the engineer resigned them and delivered them in about four hours on a Saturday. No complaints.

So early 2014, I had permits...and the added requirement St Louis Co. added to install hard wired smoke detectors. That's what I need. More projects.
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Old 11-07-2015, 03:32 PM   #3
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Success!

http://www.diychatroom.com/attachmen...1&d=1446927889

Let's try starting again.

PS: The Posting Rules say I may edit posts, but I'm not finding an mechanism to do that.
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Old 11-07-2015, 05:48 PM   #4
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Here's a sampling of the plans I put together. One of the curious things I found was that while the county is all over the end product, they do not care a whit about how you get there. No questions asked about how someone's going to pick the house up and replace its underpinnings. In a number of places I included before and afters because I felt it was pertinent. It may have been unnecessary, but it made me feel better.

The load calculations were performed on a free web application called Webstructural.com. It is published as a project at some university who's name I don't recall as I write this. I did do a number of hand calculations to ensure it was not completely off the wall. When the beams showed up and were sitting in the yard, I thought, "Man will those hold up the house?". After they were in and I staring at them at almost eye level, I was thinking, "What was I thinking?" The flanges are almost 1/2" thick.

As mentioned before, all this was done in Powerpoint and printed on 8 1/2 x 11.

http://www.diychatroom.com/attachmen...tid=214401&stc

http://www.diychatroom.com/attachmen...1&d=1446935317

http://www.diychatroom.com/attachmen...1&d=1446935317

http://www.diychatroom.com/attachmen...1&d=1446935317

http://www.diychatroom.com/attachmen...1&d=1446935317
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The Beam Project-slide7.jpg   The Beam Project-slide8.jpg   The Beam Project-slide9.jpg   The Beam Project-slide12.jpg   The Beam Project-slide10.jpg  

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Old 11-08-2015, 12:49 AM   #5
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The Steel

I got a number of suggestions to use wood beams. Glulams, LVLs or oriented strand. Two things discouraged their use. 1) I couldn't seem to find information about them. I couldn't even find easy places to ask about them. Steel info is readily available. 2) a wooden beam would be much higher than a corresponding steel beam. The six inch steel beam did not require completely cutting the floor joists while still providing the minimum 6' 4". A wood beam would be restricted to 12" high. The original beams were triple 2x8s (only 7 1/2 inches high) so a 12" beam should be much more rigid. But I had seen how the original had sagged. I didn't trust wood over time. And installing any beam over 6-8" high was going to be much more difficult...moving all the crossing ducts, wires, plumbing and gas.

So, steel it would be.

There was a W5x19 I looked at. It was very compact. Like standing the house up on a railroad track. It was actually the plan reviewer who advised that I check on the availability of it because it was not very common and therefore likely more expensive. The next sizes up were W6X16 and W6X15. I picked the former because it was narrower. Four inches wide versus 6. More compact. Of course, it also left me with having to deal with drilling almost 1/2 inch thick steel.

We have a very good steel supplier in St. Louis. One of the problems with buying 26 ft lengths of steel is the raw billets are usually 40 ft. You end up having to buy the whole 40 ft length because the yard doesn't want to get stuck storing a 13 ft length they may never sell. My supplier found another supplier in Dallas that had 60 ft billets. Both beams were cut out of that one piece and shipped to St. Louis for a saving of something like $150.

I was worried about how to handle 420 lb pieces of steel. Answer ended up being: a flat bed backed into the driveway and we pulled the steel off with straps and dragged them into the back yard.

Step one was to prime them. Irony is that you keep steel from rusting by painting it rust colored. Good step too because one beam was outside for over a year.

Step two was drilling all the holes.

Umm...Step two was drilling all the holes.

For over a month I tried to drill a hole...and I have the broken drills to prove it. The pictures show how I finally got the job done. That's a 150 lb drill press. It got moved for each hole. Took me way back down memory lane, too, since my first job after high school was a drill press operator. Plus it's my father's drill press and it's almost as old as I am.

http://www.diychatroom.com/attachmen...1&d=1446955941

http://www.diychatroom.com/attachmen...1&d=1446955941
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Old 11-11-2015, 03:14 AM   #6
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Nice write up, great drawings ... good job!

Thanks for sharing your project.

CW
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Old 11-13-2015, 07:39 PM   #7
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Good Job Mr Piper.

If I ever get my ends straight that's the way I'd want my pier and beam. Steel beams on concrete piers. No wood....except floor joist. I keep imagining your hands moving and making pictures LOL.....
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Old 11-14-2015, 01:06 PM   #8
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Raising The Roof

...and the floors...and the walls...and the people inside...

Sooo...this s___t is about to get real.

Having my own personal Serra Sculpture** (see footnotes at bottom) in the yard is one thing. Now I'm going to pick up a two story*** house. What could go wrong. Let me count the ways: Shattering the lathe and plaster walls. Breaking some major structural part...

...Dropping the house into the basement.

Call me skeptical, but I'm betting the homeowner's insurance doesn't have a "Dropped house into basement during house remodeling because homeowner is stupid" clause. I didn't look. Didn't really want to know.

The Mentats (human computers) in Frank Herbert's Dune series always talked about fear being the mind killer. I don't find that to be the case. I find fear to be the mind focuser. The mind stimulator. Of course, it's also the job procrastinator. The body curled into fetal position in the cornerer. There were more than one time my wife asked, "Why hasn't this started yet?" and my replay was, "Because I'm scared s___tless." I mean, really...isn't that the purpose of DIY home remodeling...to scare yourself sick? I don't need to go to Rollercoaster of America, dive out of perfectly good airplanes, or become a soldier of misfortune in some godforsaken war. No. I go into the basement and reenact Atlas holding the World on his shoulders. HOO-RAH!

This is where I ran into the interesting point that the Dept of Public Works has absolutely no interest in how you go about getting to the end state. I was actually looking for a little, "Maybe you should do this..." or "...that...", or "Are you nuts?" The structural engineer who came in to review before signing off the designs was helpful by not making the sign to ward off evil. That was a good sign. Right?

My detailed, in depth, multi-faceted education in picking up houses is pretty much like most DIYers. TV. And what I had seen was pretty much the same thing. A simple stud was with single 2x4 bottom and top plate and single studs. But what they invariable were lifting was a ceiling and roof or a single story house. I knew what I was doing was emulating a foundation wall under a two story house.

Did I mention that the steel beams would be inset 2" inches into the joists? Well, the steel beams would be inset 2" into the joists. The old beam was under the joists. That means that all the mechanicals that passed over the old beam had to be raised. Air ducts. Gas lines. Plumbing. Electrical. Duct work always extracts a price. I go to work the next day looking like I've been washing cats. The gas lines are all black pipe. Always fun. I use Teflon tape and pipe dope. Belt and suspenders I call it. I've probably moved half the pipe in the house so far. The copper water pipes that were in the way were all replaced with PEX. PEX IS fun. I like it. I use the Sharkbite fittings which makes tying into the existing copper mindlessly simple. My philosophy on plumbing is always the same. Cleanliness is close to leaklessness. Clean joints. Life is good. My plumbing doesn't leak (even if I do say so myself).

Another problem with wood beams...besides warping, cracking, sagging, rotting and feeding termites (the termites didn't make it to the beam...this time) is everything gets nailed to it. The main duct trunk runs right next to the beam, which of course means the duct is nailed to it. The joists are nailed to it (on the top of course where they can't be seen). Electrical boxes are nailed to it. The plumbing is nailed to it. The gas pipe is nailed to it. Did I mention that everything is nailed to it? And the wife wonders why this project took two years.

One of the big concerns at the start was the condition of the basement floor. It was hand poured. It's irregular. When I dug through it to put the interior perimeter drain in, it didn't seem to be all that thick (2ish inches of solid concrete?) I was going to have to depend on it to support the whole house. ("Fear is the mind killer...fear is the mind killer..") The first temp wall I built is on a 2x12 bottom plate because I was trying to spread the load as widely as possible. As it turned out, the concern was unfounded. During the whole project there was never one issue with the floor. As confidence built, I found I was able to use small 2x4 blocks to put column jacks on. The floor never made a creak or crack. I got a better look at the cross section when I dug the holes for the back beam footers. The floor was good. Even the areas I had dug up and repoured for the drain.

I tend to work cheap (in case dear reader hadn't noticed). I tend to buy things as I need them. But this time I went out and invested in a whole pile of lumber. When the old beam finally came out, there were six pieces left. We'll attribute that to excellent planning. Yeah, excellent planning.

So, let's build a wall, Big bottom plate. Top Plate fastened to the joists. Column jacks in place. Lift. Now, how do I transfer load from the jacks to the studs? I know 2x4s get used for a lot, but I could not afford breaking one. Lowered the house removed the wall. built a double 2x4 header. Thought, "Nobody makes 2x4 headers." Removed double 2x4 header. Went to store. Bought a pile of 2x6. Made double 2x6 header with a 1/2 spacer consisting of a cedar fence slat ('cuz it was cheap). That became the philosophy for lifting the main beam. Double walls (on both sides of the beam), double header, double bottom plate, double studs. Because one of the things I always have to keep in mind is that I might stop one evening and not get back to this for a month. The supports couldn't be minimal. They needed to be stable enough to stay up for a while.

I was not going to cut the supports out from under the house. The house had to be lifted off its supports so there would be no chance of dropping onto the temp supports. I had six column jacks and planned to lift first the center section, then the south section, then the north section. And like all battle plans, it didn't survive first contact with the enemy. I ended up starting at the south end and ironing the house up from one end to the other. Big moment when the first column moved. It was a column jack someone had put in ages ago so it was replaceable. The second column was a 6x6 block of wood and when it came out, the point of no return had been reached. The bridges burned. My Serra Sculpture was going to have to come inside.

** The Serra Sculpture Twain is five pieces of rusting steel plate stuck in the ground and called "art". Richard Serra was paid some $400,000 in 1982 to make a scrapyard in the middle of downtown St. Louis. Lovely. Tax money well spent, I'm sure. So that was my excuse for two pieces of rusting steel I-beams in the driveway for a year. It's "Aht" (if I got that snooty accent right).

*** Officially, the house is a story and a half. I've always called it a 1 3/4 story house because the upstairs rooms are full height. But in the center of the house, it's two full stories. (Pssst. Don't let the taxman know).
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Old 11-14-2015, 02:08 PM   #9
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OK, so where are the pics?
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Pugsy...my project: http://www.diychatroom.com/f49/total...storey-276978/
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Old 11-14-2015, 07:24 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Newguy2015 View Post
Good Job Mr Piper.
Sorry for the confusion. I'm not that kind of piper. I'm this kind of piper.
http://www.diychatroom.com/attachmen...1&d=1447546870

From the Midwest. Hence, mwpiper.
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Old 11-14-2015, 09:15 PM   #11
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This shows a header (Left) in front of the old beam. The laser level and the telltales hanging down were used to track the progress as the house moved. Maximum movement was about an inch. Just enough to pull the house off the beam.
http://www.diychatroom.com/attachmen...1&d=1447551839

2nd picture is the entry hole (left) The beam itself on this side the butts up behind solid concrete stairs to the side door. So the new beam had to come in and then move about 8 inches to the right. That hole got a lot bigger before the beam came in. Note the guidelines. Once the old beam was removed and the hole opened up it would be hard to tell where the beam location was.
http://www.diychatroom.com/attachmen...1&d=1447551869


This is the house I built in the basement. The big thing laying on the floor is the old 6x6 wood column. The wall to the left is beside the stairway. By the time the house was lifted, the wall was completely off the floor. In the distance on the floor was an interesting problem. I needed a stable bottom plate, but the floor by the drain dips very deep. I had to cut some profiles to match the dip, added some wedges, and managed to get it to work. Also visible is the bain of my existence on this project. Namely the main HVAC duct. 7"x29" and very much in the way. If a contractor had come in, they would have jerked that ductwork out, thrown in the beam and reinstalled the duct. They would also have charged $X0,000s. Because I knew the project was going to take months, the duct had to stay in place to keep the house livable.
http://www.diychatroom.com/attachmen...1&d=1447551921

And this shows how close the beam and duct were. Not visible on the other side of the beam is the a 3/4" gas pipe and two water lines.
http://www.diychatroom.com/attachmen...1&d=1447551881
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