Basement beam

I’ve never considered this to be a “how to” blog for the simple reason that I’m not an expert at any of this and if you’re taking my advice as a guide for redoing your own house you’re likely to hurt yourself and damage your home. I use forums and blogs and how to articles and books to figure out how to do things before tackling them, but when it came to replacing the beam and columns, most sources were light on specifics. I found a great article on replacing the column and footings with wood, and I found videos of putting  in new steel beam and leveling the house and blogs on digging down the basement floor. I just need to put all these pieces together.

Since I had a hard time assembling all the parts, I’m going to try and convey everything we’re doing so that if someone looking for help about doing it finds our blog they can get some solid information. I can’t promise it will all be correct, that it will apply to others’ situations, or even that your house won’t collapse, but here’s what we’re doing step by step.

Shortly after we bought the house and moved in, we got quotes from a few structural repair companies. These were crazy expensive ($15,000 and up). Since they were so much, we held off while we demoed the basement, moved the gas pipe and electrical that ran along the beam, and worked on other projects. Mike, a friend of ours that works in steel construction suggested we do it ourselves and save a ton of money. At first we were skeptical, but then we got our plans from our architect, which included all the specs for the footings, beam, and columns. Part of the reason the structural companies charge so much is the engineering work they do to determine what specs you need, and we already had all of that. Given the potential to save upwards of ten thousand dollars doing it ourselves, it started making more and more sense.

Here are the specs we’re working with. The footings will be 3,500 psi concrete, 36″ x 36″ x 18″ deep, with 4 epoxy-coated #5 rebar. The I-beam is W8x24, a term that describes the specific shape (W), the size (8″) and the weight per linear foot (24 lbs). The columns are XS3, A500, Grade B. Mike recommended we get square columns since they’re easier to frame around and offer the same strength.

At a high level, these are the steps in the plans: determine how far off level the beam is, measure the beam and mark out where the new footings will be. Then use jack posts to level the beam and incidentally the house. Build a temporary support wall to carry the load while we’re working. Dig out and pour the footings (they aren’t in the same place as the old ones so we can leave the beam in place at this point. Then the tricky part: remove the old wood columns and beam, put in the new steel columns and beam, and weld it in place. Finally, remove the temporary wall. This is a big, big project.


2 Responses to Beam Project: Overview

  1. It is a big project indeed – have been there… Feel free to get in touch with questions. I may have some answers for you as the columns and footings appear almost identical to those you plan on installing.

  2. Mike says:

    Amazing stuff, got the same problems here with my 1840 cellar beam wet rot. Acro props are holding it up for now!

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