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  1. #1
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    Default Support beam over front door

    Inspected this 2 story house today built around 1920, the house had been completely update inside. The issues have are with the sagging floors on the second floor bedroom. The floors have sagged mainly in the center about an inch, which i consider to be normal for this age house. The problem that i have is with the support beam that ends over the front door in the living room, is this acceptable to carry the load of the second floor. See the pictures.

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  2. #2
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    Default Re: Support beam over front door

    Sam

    The short answer is NO.

    Randy Mayo, P.E.
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  3. #3
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    Default Re: Support beam over front door

    Absolutely NO. Typical idiot contractor job. Unless the contractor can prove that there is a steel beam or adequate LVL over that door way; and that all the load from mid span beam is attached to that beam; and that none of the mid span load is getting transferred to the doorway; I would write it up as a major structural defect, immediate removal and proper repair. You are not supposed to support loads over doors or windows.
    A couple other items ...
    - I can't tell for sure from the pics but the midspan beam looks like a triple 2x8 at best, possibly 2x6. Can't see the span from the pics. However, if 2x6 it will fail, even if it is triple, seen it too many times.
    - If 2x8 it might survive but I doubt it, depends on span. I would request documentation as to how the individual pieces are attached to each other, bolts, screws, nails. IN WRITING, that way when it fails, they pull it apart and find 3" drywall screws they can go after the guy; Not that it will do any good.
    - The mid span beam sections by the stairs - Looks like some 2x4's in the corner, could be Ok. However, what's underneath, is the load being transferred to a post, footing in the basement or just on top of the floor?
    - What's with the big box in the middle of the pics? Recessed area for book shelves or something? Is the mid span beam continuous through it or in pieces? If in pieces is there proper load support and transfer at each end? If full length what is the full span of the beam?
    - I seriously doubt the 2x8 or 6 would load calc out
    - what's with the panel in the middle of the living? room
    Just based on what I am seeing I would be very suspicious of everything.
    I just did a construction insp a few weeks ago. Client wanted to jump off a bridge by the time I was done. Slime ball contractor really did a number on the place. Probably going to run $100K to fix everything he screwed up. Real disgrace.

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  4. #4
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    Default Re: Support beam over front door

    What is above this room? Is the second floor space a pop-top addition?

    "Baseball is like church. Many attend but few understand." Leo Durocher
    Bruce Breedlove
    www.avaloninspection.com

  5. #5
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    Default Re: Support beam over front door

    Quote Originally Posted by Sam Morris View Post
    is this acceptable to carry the load of the second floor.
    I see no problem with it. I might be curious how it was done but for all I know the concealed framing could be right as rain. Jumping the gun on this could end up be embarrassing.

    Eric Barker, ACI
    Lake Barrington, IL

  6. #6
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    Default Re: Support beam over front door

    The big box is a closet, the beams goes in and across. The exposed beam was 6" wide and 8ft across to closet
    Quote Originally Posted by Markus Keller View Post
    Absolutely NO. Typical idiot contractor job. Unless the contractor can prove that there is a steel beam or adequate LVL over that door way; and that all the load from mid span beam is attached to that beam; and that none of the mid span load is getting transferred to the doorway; I would write it up as a major structural defect, immediate removal and proper repair. You are not supposed to support loads over doors or windows.
    A couple other items ...
    - I can't tell for sure from the pics but the midspan beam looks like a triple 2x8 at best, possibly 2x6. Can't see the span from the pics. However, if 2x6 it will fail, even if it is triple, seen it too many times.
    - If 2x8 it might survive but I doubt it, depends on span. I would request documentation as to how the individual pieces are attached to each other, bolts, screws, nails. IN WRITING, that way when it fails, they pull it apart and find 3" drywall screws they can go after the guy; Not that it will do any good.
    - The mid span beam sections by the stairs - Looks like some 2x4's in the corner, could be Ok. However, what's underneath, is the load being transferred to a post, footing in the basement or just on top of the floor?
    - What's with the big box in the middle of the pics? Recessed area for book shelves or something? Is the mid span beam continuous through it or in pieces? If in pieces is there proper load support and transfer at each end? If full length what is the full span of the beam?
    - I seriously doubt the 2x8 or 6 would load calc out
    - what's with the panel in the middle of the living? room
    Just based on what I am seeing I would be very suspicious of everything.
    I just did a construction insp a few weeks ago. Client wanted to jump off a bridge by the time I was done. Slime ball contractor really did a number on the place. Probably going to run $100K to fix everything he screwed up. Real disgrace.



  7. #7
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    Default Re: Support beam over front door

    Quote Originally Posted by Eric Barker View Post
    I see no problem with it. I might be curious how it was done but for all I know the concealed framing could be right as rain. Jumping the gun on this could end up be embarrassing.
    ......I agree--lots of supposition but no one can tell without seeing inside the enclosure. It amazes me the level of detail that is proffered by some folks--they must see a lot more in those photos than I can.
    ......Greg


  8. #8
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    Default Re: Support beam over front door

    Two agents called me an alarmist today on a highrise condo inspection. Exposed rusting rebar and missing chunks of concrete 17 floors above the public way. Where did those chunks of concrete go, Into thin air?
    Sure the pictured installation could be OK but it is unlikely. None of us know what is under that drywall. However some of us like to work at protecting our clients from the unknown. Do you really not want to tell your client about the possible issues involved in that installation? What happens when the drywall starts to crack, the door gets harder to close and the beam looks like it has a sag?
    What the _ell do some of you think you are there for, peeling paint? The potential repair costs of that condition could be substantial.
    Since this is apparently a new rehab, write it up, let the contractor provide documentation. Call it out. If the contractor provides docs showing he did it right, I won't be embarrassed. I've congratulated contractors on doing a good job when they've provided proper docs.

    www.aic-chicago.com
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  9. #9
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    Default Re: Support beam over front door

    Correct... Peeling paint, thats good.. Protect your client, if you don't who
    will.


  10. #10
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    Default Re: Support beam over front door

    Quote Originally Posted by Markus Keller View Post
    If the contractor provides docs showing he did it right, I won't be embarrassed. I've congratulated contractors on doing a good job when they've provided proper docs.
    Markus you are very trusting. The hearth extension at this fireplace was built without a non-combustible base as the manufacturer specified and is considered an improper installation despite what this contractor states. I've seen way too many contractor documents that were as bogus as the day is long.

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    Last edited by Eric Barker; 06-23-2011 at 05:43 PM.
    Eric Barker, ACI
    Lake Barrington, IL

  11. #11
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    Default Re: Support beam over front door

    Eric, you misunderstand my intent asking for docs showing the contractor did it right. I am open minded enough to allow room for acceptance did he may have done it right. However, for the most I tend to believe the guy probably scummed it together.
    I ask for docs showing a compliant installation so that when it fails its a slam dunk in court. It's a beautiful thing to pull out a doc from a contractor stating he did X, when intrusive investigation of the failed system shows he installed Y.
    I don't, as a standard, recommend clients go after contractors. It's usually a waste of time and money with very poor satisfaction for the client. However, in those instances when it is viable, having docs from the guy works out really nicely for the client.

    www.aic-chicago.com
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  12. #12
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    Default Re: Support beam over front door

    For a while there Marcus I was starting to worry about you and think that I was going to have to come down to the "Black Hole" of Illinois and have a chat with you.

    Eric Barker, ACI
    Lake Barrington, IL

  13. #13
    Stephen McSpadden's Avatar
    Stephen McSpadden Guest

    Exclamation Re: Support beam over front door

    I am a structural engineer in Denver. As stated above the only real answer at this point is "I dunno!" As Marcus stated though there is the potential for a lot of problems that could end up very expensive to repair. A lot of people (especially contractors) do a lot of things without adequate documentation, which always creates suspicions. There "might" be adequate structure over the door but it looks highly suspicious and unlikely. The only way to check is to expose the important components and have a structural engineer run a few numbers.Over my 15 year career I have recommended several times that walls be torn down or other structural components be exposed for additional assessment. Don't be afraid to do that. It may blow the deal for the Realtor (so what!) and the client may have really wanted the house, but better to protect them than take a potentially disastrous risk. I like sleeping at night, don't you?


  14. #14
    dave koloskee's Avatar
    dave koloskee Guest

    Red face Re: Support beam over front door

    "Two agents called me an alarmist today on a highrise condo inspection... Do you really not want to tell your client about the possible issues involved in that installation? What happens when the drywall starts to crack, the door gets harder to close and the beam looks like it has a sag?"

    A very difficult situation to be in for sure. You're going to upset agents who don't understand, or care, why you say what you do at this time. They'd also throw you under the bus in the future if you didn't say anything now and problems developed down the road. I'd cover my own backside, and that of the buyer, in this case and clearly state my cause for concern and recommend that a second opinion be given. You might lose this buyer"s agent, but that's going to happen in this business.


  15. #15
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    Default Re: Support beam over front door

    Sam,
    Is the second floor an addition or original construction? If it is an addition, how old does it appear to be, are there any permits? Do you have a picture that shows the entire front of the dwelling?


  16. #16
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    Default Re: Support beam over front door

    Every time I see remodeling (nearly every home I inspect) I advise my clients that I can't see inside the drywall to determine if it was done appropriately and to research permits and inspections on the home. If they find there was no permit, it's probably done incorrectly.

    MinnesotaHomeInspectors.com
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  17. #17
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    Default Re: Support beam over front door

    Quote Originally Posted by Ken Rowe View Post
    If they find there was no permit, it's probably done incorrectly.
    If they find a permit it still may have been done incorrectly. Several years ago we remodeled our master bath. We had a shower stall removed and a large tub put in. It never even occurred to the village inspector that just maybe we should sister up the floor joists and replace the header over the sliding door in the kitchen underneath. The contractor submitted plans that showed no framing upgrade and it was approved. As I stated in another thread, permits are useless - at least around here.

    Eric Barker, ACI
    Lake Barrington, IL

  18. #18
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    Default Re: Support beam over front door

    Quote Originally Posted by Eric Barker View Post
    If they find a permit it still may have been done incorrectly. Several years ago we remodeled our master bath. We had a shower stall removed and a large tub put in. It never even occurred to the village inspector that just maybe we should sister up the floor joists and replace the header over the sliding door in the kitchen underneath. The contractor submitted plans that showed no framing upgrade and it was approved. As I stated in another thread, permits are useless - at least around here.
    Until you need one.


  19. #19
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    Default Re: Support beam over front door

    Without tearing open the wall, you will never know for sure. There could be a large header over the door, and the beam is attached with hangers to the header.
    Is there any code enforcement in Erwin? I would be surprised if there is. Asking the builder what they did might be a clue (that it was right, or confirm that its wrong), but you still couldn't be positive unless the area was opened up, and an engineer ran some calc's.

    Good call!


  20. #20
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    Default Re: Support beam over front door

    Quote Originally Posted by Eric Barker View Post
    If they find a permit it still may have been done incorrectly. Several years ago we remodeled our master bath. We had a shower stall removed and a large tub put in. It never even occurred to the village inspector that just maybe we should sister up the floor joists and replace the header over the sliding door in the kitchen underneath. The contractor submitted plans that showed no framing upgrade and it was approved. As I stated in another thread, permits are useless - at least around here.
    But, if a permit was pulled in this case and the work approved by the local inspector we, as lowly home inspectors, have no authority to require a repair. In the case of the original poster there is no way to tell if the work it done correctly unless the drywall is removed...and that isn't going to happen. The only recourse for the buyer is the check to see if the work was permitted and hope the local inspector actually looked at the work prior to it being finished.

    MinnesotaHomeInspectors.com
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