'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

18 January 2013

Kids Room - Down To Bare Walls And Structural Issues

I probably should have said this in the first post but I am neither a structural engineer nor a framing contractor. I'm just a Do It Yourselfer who has a basic understanding of construction requirements and techniques. Approach anything I say and do from that perspective and with a large grain of salt. If you're unsure at all on your own project please consult with an expert. Anyone who is an expert is welcome to correct me anytime and I will not only thank you publicly I'll post a correction here.

Ok, time to remove the remaining drywall and get to bare stud walls. It's easy. If you don't have an edge to work with just punch a hole

Grab an edge and start pulling

Before you know it you'll be down to framing and insulation. And piles of broken drywall of course.

Be careful here. You'll end up with a lot of protruding nails. Watch what you're doing and take the time to regularly remove them. You're going to have to do that anyway and it's best done before clothing and skin get inadvertently ripped. Stopping for blood and band aids just make the job go that much slower.

Ok, we're down to bare stud walls. I'm leaving some of the insulation in place, mostly where I am either going to be leaving the wall alone or where I'm unsure.

It's taken a week, mostly because I've been fighting off the crud, but I'm finally at the place where I can see the issues and can plan accordingly. First up the attic space.

A couple of terms and definitions (though the exact names might differ depending on who you talk to and where you live). This is a ceiling joist. These are a structural (or are supposed to be anyway) part of the rafter/roof truss system. They also define the ceiling, where the drywall will later be screwed on.

This is a roof joist/truss. They are nailed to the crown truss which defines the peak of the roof and the roof sheathing. They support the main weight of the roof. Can you spot the issue?

If you look at this picture closely you will see that there are no vertical supports running from the ceiling joists up to the roof joists. They should be integral to any truss/rafter system but they're simply not present. Vertical supports from properly installed ceiling joists to properly installed roof joists help support the weight of the roof.

Second issue and something I have mentioned before. The ceiling joists are butt joined and toe nailed into the headers.

Here's why this is such a big problem. Take a look at this roof joist. First, the roof joist was severely notched where it goes over the ceiling joist. That is a no no. Any structural element is only as strong as it's weakest point. It's no longer a 2x4 here, it's more like a 2x1 where it goes over the ceiling joist and under the weight of the roof it failed and broke. Don't notch structural members. Ever. Period.

Throw in the toe nailed, butt joined ceiling joists. The joist is supported only by the nails which creates small, nail sized failure points. Under load they are also prone to split and fail as this one did.

Here's a broader view The two joists that failed are connected to each other creating a single point of failure for the entire roof. At the top right of the door is the broken roof joist and just to the right of that is the split ceiling joist. (enlarge the picture for a better look). The split ceiling joist connects to the header and the roof joist goes over the failed ceiling joist. Also note the already failed once ceiling joist has been further weakened by another notch just to the left there, just above the door. Frankly I am very fortunate this entire section of roof didn't collapse at some point.

A look at the rest of the ceiling/roof structure reveals a lack of sufficient vertical bracing and what is there consists of scrap 1 inch boards. No dimensional structural lumber. It's....indescribably awful.

What's the fix? I'll be detailing how I'm going to be tackling these issues in the next post. Basically I will replace all the ceiling joists with 2x6 dimensional lumber put in with joist hangers. I will add in 2x6 and 2x4 vertical supports from the new ceiling joists to the existing roof joists. That will allow me to take up some of the stresses of the roof with the new structure and strengthen the whole thing by properly installing the ceiling joists, supporting the roof joists and tying the whole thing together. Absent removing the entire roof and starting all over from scratch with engineered rafters this is the only way to go.

I picked up my first load of lumber today. 2x6s and 2x4s with screws, joist hangers and truss fasteners. Total cost was 404 dollars but 80 dollars of that was the purchase of a new tool so I'm taking that off the total. Hey new tools are Capital expenses. It's what is commonly referred to as a Hilti Gun though mine isn't made by Hilti. It's a tool designed to fire 3 inch nails into concrete and brick by way of a .22 blank. Yeah, I've integrated shooting into the remodel. Hey, I am a gunnie!

324 bucks in and I haven't yet driven a single nail or screw. Still, I'd be into this a couple of thousand already if I'd hired this out. I'll be working all weekend. Updates next week.



Paladin said...

Dang, Six... all they needed was a little baleing wire and it would have been a perfect redneck engineering disaster! Glad you caught all that so it can be set to rights.

Rev. Paul said...

Much fail do I see in how that was originally done. I was a residential building inspector, back in the day (some 20 years ago), so my knowledge is a bit out of date.

Accordingly, I won't offer any advice, as it would be suspect. Looks like you're already addressing things, anyway.

NavyOne said...

Wow, neat photos and commentary. I've done some rehab, nothing like this though! Good for you. . .

Six said...

There may very well be some baling wire in there I have yet to discover Paladin. Lu's granddad was a good man but his construction skills were exactly what you said. Redneck engineering!

Any advice is always appreciated Rev. My skills are being severely tested in this job!

Thanks Navy. I hope it comes out well or I'll have to shut down the site and hide from Lu!

The DO said...

Know the old saying, "those who can't, teach?" Yeah... Wish I could be there to help!

Six said...

Me too sweetie! Hopefully it'll be done by the time the kids check in.

LauraB said...

Wow...I have been impressed by your work before but this...well, just document it all for us. And maybe I'll climb into our little area and take a pic to make your belly get all squiky.