Monday, January 2, 2012

Structural Engineering

It all started with a door around Thanksgiving.

The old kitchen (a.k.a. the Room of Despair) is visible from the front door.  Since we were having about 10 guests for Thanksgiving, I asked my husband to put a door up in the doorway, so that we could close it and our guests didn't have to look at the gigantic mess and lack of walls and exposed electrical.

(OK, technically, there are two doors, but the other is in the dining room, so I put up a curtain there, and wheeled the kegerator right up to the door.  It was awesome! )

In any case, we had a door that we thought went there, so Jeff tried to put it up.  Denied!  The doorway, however, was totally not square in any way.  This somehow turned into us calling a structural engineer, because Jeff was pretty sure the house was not square if the doorway was not square.  Which hey, turns out to be true.

The short answer is: shore up some stuff in the next 5 years.  Which is really no big deal, but does put our next set of work into a different order than we intended.

Mainly, we need to do the upstairs bath before the 1st floor bath.  This is because we need to sister up a bunch of joists and that's easier to do if we work from the top down.  (The upstairs bath is over the Room of Despair, which is gonna become the 1st floor powder room, someday.)

Here's some pics.

It turns out, you are not supposed to cut big holes in your joists to route plumbing.    

Another view of that.  

Above you can see where we'll be rerouting the plumbing for the main bath and powder rooms and sistering the joists (which apparently means adding a joist to each side of the original joist to add support).

I gotta say, that does look like something that's gonna break.  This is just one example, we have about five or six of these.  So basically, we are going to tear out the floor of the main bath (after working up the plumbing in advance to make the remodeling go faster) and add the sister joists from above.

You should ignore the boxes we never unpacked and our nonfunctioning roomba.
Here's a shot of how the steps to our basement are not actually held up by anything.

See the big pole?  That's holding up the house.  More on that later.  To the left of that, you see a 2X4, right?  Except it was chopped off.

That is supposed to be touching the floor, holding up the steps.  Those steps have always seemed super rickety to us, so it's completely unsurprising.  We shoved a 4X4 under neath to hold the steps up for now. Those babies will be going bye bye and being replaced with new steps.

Here's the top of the aforementioned post.  If you look, you can see some wood shims above the post.  That's apparently a no-no, said our structural engineer.  We are smack dab in the middle of a period of building for our house when people used that kind of post with wood shims.  Wood moves, expands, contracts.  Which it did, and now our house isn't level.  Metal shims will need to go in there.

We asked about jacking up the house with these things you put under your posts and slowly turn, but the engineer said that probably will just result in other craziness happening in the above floors, so instead we need to double the number of posts.  (We have 3, going to 6.)

That involves jackhammering out some concrete in the floor, pouring a new concrete bed, and then putting in 3 new metal posts in.  2X the posts = 4X the support.

So, cool.

The downside to the new posts is that we will need to tear out the existing hardwood and put in a new, level subfloor.  We were hoping that if we jacked the house up a bit, we could refinish the original floors. But, you know, the original floors are like 90 years old, so it's not the end of the world.

We are leaving the awful, boring beige carpet for now, because we have a wall to demo and rebuild in the living room and there's no reason to do that all over my brand new floor.  (Plastic brick, people?  Really?)

We are both fairly convinced to put in some laminate after that, since with the dogs and the son, we could use something indestructible.  In the old house, the hardwood got super scratched up, so we'll see.

via lumber liquidators website

This is kinda pretty for laminate.  

So that's what's happening for us.  You know, besides christmas and stuff.

Merry Belated Christmas and Happy 2012 everyone!  May your house not require a structural engineer!


Ebeth said...

Wow - you're so calm. I guess dealing with a house for so many months makes you more prepared for the unexpected.

Have you looked at the tile flooring that looks like hardwood? We put some down (we have laminate in parts of the house already and could see how it has worn over 7 years...not always very well) and absolutely love it. Tile that looks like wood...who would have ever thought?

Good luck in 2012!

Connie said...

Ooh, the tile that looks like wood idea sounds like it would be fabulous for the mudroom/powder room area especially.

Thanks for the great idea!

(Anything in particular that didn't hold up well with the laminate? Everyone says how durable it is on, like, HGVT and stuff, but reality is often different than HGTV!)

Bean said...

Oh those naughty plumbers! It's totally expected that they do this stuff.

Laura V said...

That is some quality quarter-assing right there.

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