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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
Hello folks, wanted to share some amusing structural issues I found this week and get some feedback.

We tore out our old ceiling and exposed a double 2x10 beam beneath what was previously a wall "holding up" my rough cut 2x8 joists below the master bedroom and the studs between the two bedrooms.

However, I'm not sure they're carrying much of the load with gaps between wood all over the place. Needless to say, the 2nd floor vibrates when anyone over 150lbs takes a step.

(Refer to pics attached.)

The problems are:
1. The double beam is not install correctly (imo), it's below an apparent 1x6 plank and behind the 1x6 are little 2x4 pieces that are supposed to be holding the joists. Some of the 2x4's are missing.

2. Beyond that, the beam is not flush with the plank.

3. Further more, the studs that apparently were there previously were crudely hacked off and are now FLOATING.

So, to the plan, we pull out the 1x6 that is useless, move up the beam and use proper joist hangers with it, but the questions are:

Question 1:
How do we 'un-float' these studs? I imagine if we simply cut them 'flush' and jacked up the beam we risk popping the drywall upstairs.

Question 2:
The 2x10 will still hang lower than the rough cut 2x8's, do we NEED a lam beam, or could we do doubled or tripled 2x8's? I have a highly recommended/rated licensed contractor doing the work, but we're not engineers and can't afford an engineer. The span is 12 feet and we'd of course be installing at least a 4x4 below each end in the basement. (The nearby structural engineers won't step in the door for under $400.)

-jason
 

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JOATMON
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Wow......that is a mess.....

We have a couple of experts in here who should chime in shortly....so be patient.....they have clocks to set and coffee to drink.....

At a minimum, expect to get an engineer involved. And we hope you are pulling permits....it's well worth the minor expense later on.

Side note....don't stress on the removing of the existing beam....you can support everything off to the side. The engineer will tell you how to do it.

One of the things an engineer will do it make sure you have proper support on the floor for posts to hold any beams.
 

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If your trying to move the beam up into the joist space you need an engineer period along with permits and inspections.

If you are keeping the beam where it is and are just trying to tighten up the framing you can do that without messing with the beam size and bearing points.

do you know if there are any point loads bearing on the beam from upstairs or the trusses?
I have a highly recommended/rated licensed contractor doing the work, but we're not engineers and can't afford an engineer.
If you have a highly rated contractor and he has told you that you need an engineer then i would listen to him it sounds like you cant afford it right now and you may need to come up with an alternative plan. Your highly qualified contractor should be able to help you.
 

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Just wanted to add that you could possibly save some money by going down to the city/county planning office and seeing if they have your original plans on file then getting a copy and taking them to an architect/engineer this would save them from having to come to your house.
 

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I certainly appreciate the difficult situation you find yourself in, and I am glad you find it amusing. Personally I would find your situation very unpleasant. The framing is somewhat bizarre, reminds me of some framing I observed doing forensic investigations down south after hurricanes Katrina and Rita. We referred to that type of framing as "country", and unfortunately it was pretty common in Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama.

As to your questions, unfortunately the only way to determine what the best option for repairing the framing is to do a complete load calculation for all of the structural components. That means evaluating all of the loads that bear on the pieces, determining what size the pieces need to be, and how best to connect them. This is usually done by an engineer, but can be done in some jurisdictions by an experienced contractor with appropriate insurance, just in case they get the framing wrong and the house sags or in worst case collapses. Your building inspector may be willing to recommend a local contractor, but bear in mind that all the contractors I know would have an engineer on retainer to do the calculations, prepare the drawings, and pull the permit. Your area may be different, but since you did not tell us where you are from, can't say.

Make sure you understand that the most dangerous part of the repair is likely to be during construction, when you will need temporary support. Since it sounds like you cannot afford an engineer, make SURE your contractor is comfortable designing both the final framing and the temporary framing, and has insurance to cover failures. Good luck with the project.
 

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Nothing there that is immediately dangerous. Also most houses do move or vibrate even when a kid walks/runs. If you think a rock solid "wood" floor is the only way to build, yes, you have a problem. If you can see what you got as a product of its times and still functional, you have a house.
My old house was framed all wrong. It's late 1920 and I think it was owner built who did not know much about the structural issues. But it is functional and we live in it. I am getting used to 1" slope to the middle - although it will be leveled in a few years.
You have a new problem there because you tore everything out without knowing how the house was built. Wiring on the girder is also a problem. Without the money, I would rethink my objective - esp the flush ceiling vs the girder sticking out. What you have now can be reinforced without too much more money or material.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 · (Edited)
Thanks for all the input. Re-routing the electrical is no big deal, I'm competent with a drill and the basics (replaced many a switch and outlet.)

As for the rest, I'm going to be speaking to my contractor hopefully tonight and get his thoughts. He's thinking if I 2x10 (aka 3x8.5 really?) can "hold" this up without full contact to everything above it, than an 8 inch LAM/LVL beam or other engineered beam over the 8 foot span should be more than enough - basically losing half inch and using a stronger beam.

I asked if I should speak to a Civil Engineer and he said it's probably not necessary, since we're not actually changing the load, just fixing up the beam. I'm slightly hesitant, hmmm...

-Jason
 

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JOATMON
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Thanks for all the input. Re-routing the electrical is no big deal, I'm competent with a drill and the basics (replaced many a switch and outlet.)

As for the rest, I'm going to be speaking to my contractor hopefully tonight and get his thoughts. He's thinking if I 2x10 (aka 3x8.5 really?) can "hold" this up without full contact to everything above it, than an 8 inch LAM/LVL beam or other engineered beam over the 8 foot span should be more than enough - basically losing half inch and using a stronger beam.

I asked if I should speak to a Civil Engineer and he said it's probably not necessary, since we're not actually changing the load, just fixing up the beam. I'm slightly hesitant, hmmm...

-Jason
"He's thinking"? Big red flag telling you he really doesn't know.

According to my span table, that 12" span needs a 4x12 DF1 beam. Big difference between a 2x10 and 4x12. Chances are a PSL beam could be a little smaller (height wise), but you need more than 'thinking' to confirm.

Also, what is below the posts supporting that beam?
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
"He's thinking"? Big red flag telling you he really doesn't know.

According to my span table, that 12" span needs a 4x12 DF1 beam. Big difference between a 2x10 and 4x12. Chances are a PSL beam could be a little smaller (height wise), but you need more than 'thinking' to confirm.

Also, what is below the posts supporting that beam?
I used the word thinking, I was just trying to say that his idea is we'll do a not-as-tall LVL beam, as a opposed to the current 2x10 spanned to 8 feet.
 

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Your contractor appears to be assuming that since the existing beam is "adequate", he will use an equal or stronger beam, and that will be "as adequate". The problem with this type of from the hip analysis is that the total load that could be exerted on the beam in an unusual event, for example heavy snow on the roof carried down to the beam, might overstress the new beam, causing a failure. For that matter, unusual loads could overstress the existing beam, causing a failure.

In any case, you can find out very quickly how confident the contractor is by asking him to indemnify you for any future beam failure due to overstress. Make sure you see the policy he offers you. My guess is he will rightfully refuse to indemnify you, since he is not a licensed designer, and probably could not obtain such insurance if he tried. So that will leave you in a tough spot, do you accept the contractor's assurance that everything will be fine, with no insurance, or do you get a licensed designer (with insurance) to size the beam and supports for you. Your call.
 

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OP, as long as we are talking about the same beam, which is the photo 1 with a wire tacked across it, it is more than 8'. It looks like 2x10 but it should be at least "double" 2x10. Counting the joist bays, it is more like 12'. The wall under it may not be bearing, if it is, the mid corner must have a footing under it.
If you see the specs of lvl, it is less than the hype you hear about lvl or engineered beams, esp as you want the joist width. You can't assume this, not even your contractor. If you have a contractor, I think an engineer should be in your budget. I think you also must get a permit. You are thinking of major alteration, and you have no third party check on the work quality (such as the inspector).
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
OP, as long as we are talking about the same beam, which is the photo 1 with a wire tacked across it, it is more than 8'. It looks like 2x10 but it should be at least "double" 2x10. Counting the joist bays, it is more like 12'. The wall under it may not be bearing, if it is, the mid corner must have a footing under it.
If you see the specs of lvl, it is less than the hype you hear about lvl or engineered beams, esp as you want the joist width. You can't assume this, not even your contractor. If you have a contractor, I think an engineer should be in your budget. I think you also must get a permit. You are thinking of major alteration, and you have no third party check on the work quality (such as the inspector).
Well, now I look pretty foolish, yes, it's 12' 6".

What we have on the left is (we expect, without tearing the drywall out yet) double rough cut 2x4's, which are resting on inner corner of stone foundation, on the right it's 2 (RC) 2x4's that were previously UNSUPPORTED in the basement!

Please don't judge my basement fix too harshly, it was quite a mess as well, I shored up under that post with a C channel with double 2x4 and 4x4 on each side - probably better to get them both on 4x4, but that's what was on hand. The reason for the C channel is the entire left to right joist was cut up BADLY on both sides, completely terrible, can't believe it hadn't failed - so wanted to get something full length under it.

Anyway, I have feelers out for a reasonably price Engineer, so hopefully I can get some good leads. We were hoping this task would be in the $1500 range and we're already over budget, which I know doesn't sound like much, but when you're in a $90,000 house obviously you aren't loaded.

-Jason
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
See here, the right side upstairs post was basically just sitting on the old as hell circa 1890's beam, so I got that additional support.

As for the right upstairs it's either rest on that same old beam downstairs or directly on the stone, I imagine it's on the beam right above the stone.

For the center (thinking ahead to temporary wall) I have my old (probably also 1890's locust) wood post. It's dry and not moist or deteriorating, which is why I left it there - but maybe before this project I need to shore that up as well.
 

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If I was diying that house, I'd leave the first floor beam. You can add to it if needed, use joist hangers and plywood or 2x flitches to the existing 2nd floor joists.
Bsmt is never going to be ready for living/working space. Think of using load bearing walls, not posts. That's what I'm doing with mine. Clean up the framing, get a cheap paint sprayer with a masonary paint. 2 coats and you have a new basement.
 
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