'The true Soldier fights not because he hates what is in front of him, but because He loves what is behind him.' -G. K. Chesterton

14 May 2012

Screen Porch II

I finally got the porch taken down and have started getting the house ready for attempt number two. I promised to explain what happened.

See, there was this really bright light and then suddenly I found myself in a craft looking at two grey aliens holding what looked like a probe of some kind. Oh wait. Wrong story. Please disregard. I need to up my medication.

Ok then. When I removed the soffits this is what I found.
That is the end of one of the rafters over the master bedroom/ mud room. It originally had a flat roof but many years ago a sloped roof was added due to some leakage issues. Here's a closer look.
For some reason that I will never understand they didn't take off the old roof (as I had assumed) and construct a new one. They simply built a new structure directly on top of the old roof. There is also some odd local prejudice against rain gutters. Instead they tend toward deep soffits. Hence what we see here. Instead of new, complete rafters and roof joists the contractor (yes, someone was paid to do this) just added about 18 inches to the ends of the joists. That's a 2x6 nailed onto the end of the joist. Here's a view from below.
You can see what they did. That's a six inch nailer on a 12 inch overhang. The contractor decided the soffit needed to be 12 inches deeper so he added an 18 inch section of 2x6 with a 6 inch overlap. It's simply nailed on. Now this kind of construction is indeed acceptable if done correctly but the commonly accepted method is you double the length of the overhang for the nailer and then you fasten it with glue and screws on both sides of the repair. There's simply no way this overhang can take any weight at all so it all has to come down. I'll cut the roof back to the original joists, square the ends and face it with a fresh 2x6 screwed to the joists. The 2x6 will also be anchored to one end with joist hangers at the post you can see in the picture and a 4x4 post at the far end.

Was that It? No, not by a long shot. When I started taking down the aluminum ceiling I found the joists for the other section of the roof. Yes, they were complete and there were no add ons but a closer look revealed this.
In this picture the roof slopes up and away from you. If you look closely you can see where the rafter intersects the wall header. Er. Did they notch the rafters?
Yes, yes they did. There's about an inch of wood left at the top of the rafter. It's enough for the roof though it's definitely not the proper way to do things and something I never do and absolutely recommend against. But it will never hold any more weight. To be fair this is rough sawn wood and the dimensions are true 2x4 but still, it's not something I want to fool around with.

This is another look at this section of the house. You can see the roof and where I put up the header/nailer for the joists at the back. That's the section I'm talking about. There is some good news. See those two posts left and right in the picture at the back of the structure I built? Those are supporting a doubled 2x6 header for the existing wall. I took the roof back to that header and I'll now use it as the nailer for the new joists. After I get the new joists up I'll be able to see how much of the soffit I'll have to remove for the roof to fit. I'll be judicious and may find a way to reinforce the old roof joists but I'm confident it'll be plenty strong enough.

The structure is now down and I'm measuring and planning the new build. I'm confident I have now identified all the problem areas and fixes that will work, be structurally sound and look good. I'm also going to follow KurtP's suggestion and make both of the unsupported perimeter joists true 4x6 headers and add in at least one more 4x4 post for support. I'm ever rethinking 24 inch on center joists and may go with 16 inch. Time and budget will tell.

What have I learned from this fiasco? Do your due diligence. If you're going to add something make absolutely certain you do a proper tear out and discover all the hidden issues before you drive a single nail or cut your first board. Trust me, it's a lot less painful that way.

More tomorrow.



KurtP said...

Is that a piece of old romex in the first three pics?
What's it feeding?

Six said...

Yes it is Kurt and you notice where they ran it? It feeds the master bedroom. This house is old. It was started in the 40's and added to into the 50's. ALL the wiring has to be replaced and a lot of the plumbing as well. I have a 200 amp service and the entire kitchen, living room and swamp cooler are all on one 20 amp circuit! Yeah, you can't run the microwave and the toaster at the same time.