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Size of Beam

Posted by gav_sharma (My Page) on
Fri, Aug 30, 13 at 16:10

My contractor is putting in a 6x12 Douglas Fir Beam #1 S4S to replace the load bearing wall between my kitchen and family room. He has got several opinions and this size was the biggest quoted to him. The span between the two posts is going to 15 feet.

I want to know if this is sufficient. The IBC Span tables don't provide the span supported by a 6x12 header. I have attached a floorplan with this post.

I know I should get a structural engineer to look at it but no one is available till 2 weeks in my area and we have so much other work to do and it is all held up because of this wall work.

Please help !


Follow-Up Postings:

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RE: Size of Beam

If the design isn't stamped by an engineer, I don't see how an inspector will grant a permit.

This post was edited by Roof35 on Fri, Aug 30, 13 at 18:20


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RE: Size of Beam

Why are you doing your contractor's job? Why is your contractor relying on opinions? If you know you should get a structural engineer, why don't you?


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RE: Size of Beam

Your diagram is virtually useless. It lacks 90% of the information needed. The load carried by a beam depends on the roof, it's orientation, the second floor framing (if any) and any snow loading calculations that are required, etc. You also need to account for the point loads at the ends of a beam, i.e. create proper foundation points and piers that transfer that weight.

You need a on site structural engineer. Both for permitting's sake, and for the actual safety of your home. Don't get red flagged by the inspectors. Wait and do it properly. Delays are a normal part of any renovation.


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RE: Size of Beam

I am doing a lot of work in the house flooring, painting, plumbing, remodelling kitchen etc.

Licensed,bonded contractors are way to expensive for me to afford in this town. The guy I am working with is unlicensed and doing the work at less than half the cost of a licensed contractor. He is experienced and has made homes from ground up but he is not technically savvy. I am afraid that the 6x12 beam he has selected for a 15' span won't be enough even though that is the biggest beam that is sold in town.

I was just trying to get some rough estimate from you guys to find if this sized beam is reasonable to use for this span.

The home is a single story 1960`s ranch home with no living space in attic and a shingle roof. The house is in an area where it never snows.

Please advise.


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RE: Size of Beam

Without more info it is IMPOSSIBLE for anyone to tell you if the roof will collapse or not. Does that answer your question? And if this work is performed by an unlicensed contractor and the roof does collapse your HO Ins. will give you -0- dollars if they even insure you when they find out the work was not performed by an unlicensed contractor.


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RE: Size of Beam

You need to boot this unlicensed guy. How you even got a permit without a licensed contractor is beyond me. How is anything passing inspection? Find someone who knows what he is doing and hire them to do this correctly. You're in for a world of issues if you don't. You'll never be able to sell this house, and that's if it doesn't have structural issues that cause it damage from the hack doing things incorrectly. That repair will cost you MORE money than hiring someone competent from the beginning.


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RE: Size of Beam

I guess Im one of the few people in the world that does work myself and tries to save money. Everyone wants you to pull a permit...I just dont see the point. This is something I would have an engineer do. Check your local lumber yards...they often have an engineer on staff that will quickly run the numbers for you so they can sell you the beam. Also, depending on the ceiling height...do you really want a 12" beam? A lumber yard can order LVL headers, timerstrand headers, etc that will be smaller and give you a taller head room.

There is a program called Forte (google it) that allows you to make some load calculations. Depending on your snow load, rafter orientation... a 6x12 will probably fit the bill if it is a single story with a low pitch roof.

I just opened up a 12' section in my house on a load bearing wall (with perpendicular roof trusses) single story metal roof with 4:12 pitch. Forte said 10" header was enough... I actually have a double top plate and (2) 2x10's supporting the wall. The calculations also said a single 2x4 support was fine. We dont have any real snow load here in TX. I honestly may look for a lumberyard to get their equivalent in a LVL or timberstrand to cut down on the height.


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RE: Size of Beam

A lumberyard is unlikely to have an engineer as an employee or a consultant but the suppliers of LVL's have engineers registered in every state.

If you give them a properly dimensioned framing plan that shows the loading on the beam they can probably give you a stamped beam design for free. Multiple LVL's will probably be smaller in cross section than the solid beam proposed and be easier to install.


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RE: Size of Beam

8mpg "I guess Im one of the few people in the world that does work myself and tries to save money. Everyone wants you to pull a permit...I just dont see the point. "

As an ex-contractor in the remodeling field with over 20+ years in the field, I can tell you, you _will_ see the point when/if you attempt to sell the structure. Or, Lord forbid, there is a disaster.

Flying by the seat of your pants on taking out load bearing walls is not for amateurs. It is exactly why permits are required.

I too am one who works on my own place. Over the years I have taken out permits on my own place which involved roofs/bearing walls/decks/siding/.electric, just to name a few.

Just because you're comfortable skating around a $50 permit, does in no way mean you know what you're doing. In fact, the opposite is implied.

This post was edited by Roof35 on Sun, Sep 1, 13 at 13:23


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RE: Size of Beam

I know I should get a structural engineer to look at it

So, just do it. Or guess and see if the roof caves in in a few years.


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RE: Size of Beam

I'd go with an LVL, approved by the engineers.
We took out a 15' span and it is much larger, much heavier engineered thing that went in than a simple 6x12.

Be VERY careful. You are opening yourself up to a lot of issues going the no permit route, unlicensed, unbonded, uninspected, unengineered route.


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RE: Size of Beam

I wouldn't use Doug fir for that. LVL all the way. Or steel. And ONLY sized by an engineer. With permits. It WILL bite you if your neighbor turns you in. Or if you try to sell.


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