Post and Beam

The end of week 6 (pregnancy week 28) was robust.  The house passed the plumbing inspection and we are almost finished with the framing.  Electrical and framing inspections are on deck this week and then we start on the dense pack insulation.

I have cut a few beams out of the barn using a Sawz-All (an A #1 demo tool), but this week we attacked with a chain saw.  Here is Caleb cutting out a beam, and the quick result.

We used this beam as a supporting post in what will be the study.

Once we had removed the chimney and gutted the house, we noticed a sag in the ceiling.  Closer inspection showed that the ceiling joists do not span the width of the house but run the length, anchored to a carrying beam placed in the center of the house.  It is an odd construction.

If the joists ran the width, each would individually rest upon the outer walls, transferring the weight of each downward to the foundation.  But running lengthwise puts all of the second floor weight upon a single carrying beam (which does run across the width of the first floor).  Short of rebuilding the house, there is no way to change it.  Our desire to create an open floorplan had run into serious issues.

We needed a post somewhere on the ground floor, and we chose off center, where we had removed an interior wall to open up the study.  This placement keeps the post out of the main room.

We brought a piece of the barn into the house, to support the carrying beam from below.  The 190 year-old wood  looks great!

But still, the sag remained in the main room.  To be precise, the ceiling sagged 1 3/8″ over a six foot span.  And since we absolutely wanted to keep the open flow of the main room, our only option was to lift up the ceiling from above.

Our solution was to build a truss, attached to the roof rafters, that anchors a wall sheathed with plywood glued to the studs.  We then jacked the ceiling up from the first floor, and the base plate of the upstairs wall was lag screwed to the carrying beam.  The ceiling was sucked up, and the glued on plywood creates a super strong and rigid supporting truss.

Some photos might help to make it clearer.  The first photo shows the upstairs before the wall or truss were built; the ceiling has been cut open.  The second photo shows the 2 x 12 beam anchored to the rafters.

The photo on the left below shows the beam with additional anchors up to the rafters.  The downward weight will not cause the rafters to sag inward because the 2 x 12 has locked them in place.  On the right you can see the wall’s top plate lagged to the 2 x 12 and the 2 x 6 studs running downward.

This photo shows the framed wall, with 2 x 6 studs rather than 2 x 4s, before the sheathing has been applied.  The base plate is anchored down to the carrying beam of the downstairs ceiling.

Lifting the ceiling (and floor) up, to remove a 1 3/8″ sag is a pretty major accomplishment.  All credit goes to our mastermind contractor Noah Wentworth, and his superb Evergreen Building Collaborative.

One Comment on “Post and Beam”

  1. ann says:

    it all takes me back to us here in early 2006, we needed a metal support beam across kithen ceiling in place of odd beams in the middle of kitchen…..excited to see it tuesday afternoon!

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