Supporting the House

Getting the 880 pound, 33.3 foot long steel I-beams into the basement of the house was a big step accomplished, but simply having them in the basement of course did nothing to actually structurally improve or support the house!  Lifting them into position was not very straightforward as our house was built in two parts at two different times.

The northeast half of the house is the “original”, built over 100 years ago.  Some 10 or 12 years later, there was an addition added, now the south-west half of the house.  The house was moved from town to the acreage property and put on a new foundation in 2007, by the owners previous to us.  When it was put on the foundation, two large wooden beams were used.

(Unfortunately, notches were cut out of the beams, weakening them; in addition the teleposts supporting the beams were sitting on blocks of wood with no footings to support them.  Hence, our decision to pour proper footings for support posts and replace the wooden beams.)

One of those wooden beams straddled the adjoining walls of the original house and the 1918 addition.  In order to properly support both, one of our I-beams had to go in the exact same spot but if we simply removed the wood beam, neither that entire end of the original house nor the addition would have any structural support whatsoever — a risky business indeed!

John’s solution was to:

  1.  put up one of the I-beams temporarily on the northeast side of the wood beam, to support the house where it joined the addition;
  2. use a large wooden post as a partial temporary beam to support the addition;
  3. then remove the first wood beam; and
  4. finally put up the other I-beam in its permanent location where the first wood beam had been. 
steel I-beams and wood beams

A view of the beams in the basement, halfway through the process

After that was all done, the temporary wooden beam  also had to be removed, while the I-beam which had been temporarily supporting the addition was lowered and moved over to its own permanent location under the middle of the original house.

Sounds simple but it took quite a month of Sundays to get it all done.  The I-beams were in the basement in early October and it was October 30th before the one I-beam was in its permanent location, doing what it is supposed to do.  Of course, with the amount of time and money going into the house, the structural integrity is pretty important!

When it comes time to develop the basement, we will also enjoy the fact that there are only two posts dividing up the space, instead of the seven we started out with.

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One Response to Supporting the House

  1. Pingback: Earth Day: Reusing lath, insulation and stucco | prairiewoods

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