structure & framing question


Old 08-08-13, 08:08 AM
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Join Date: Aug 2013
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structure & framing question

Hi all - long time reader, first post -

1935 2-story brick duplex, converted to single family. Same floor plan up and down.

Pier & beam, stick framing with brick exterior - built before there were a lot of codes and standards, but pretty solid - we've needed to beef up some of the pier/beam system, nothing huge.

Used to have a back stairway from the upstairs kitchen to the back yard - both up and down kitchens had private doors to the yard. At some point in the last 12 years, the downstairs kitchen was opened up, stairs removed, and the back door opened to a single wide patio door. (See diagram below). Full-span joists were added where the stairwell was removed, I can see those.

Meanwhile, the upstairs kitchen was used for storage - still had old appliances and cabinets - and all the 2nd floor wall framing was left in place.

So there is still framing/drywall for closets and stairwell upstairs - that has no framing under it on the first floor. We've been here 8 years and there's no sag or deflection on the downstairs ceiling. My wife wants to convert that upstairs kitchen space into a bath & closet - which would require the existing closet/stairwell walls be removed and different framing put in place. (Her idea involves tub & shower against an exterior wall vs. spanning the space).

Width of the kitchens is about 13'; joists are 2x10 on 16".

I assume I should have a structural guy take a look - but any experts here - does this seem doable? Should joists or trusses be added under the 2nd floor? Can the joists handle framing/drywall (they seem to be doing fine so far)...

I've even seen articles about spanning the ceiling in the attic with beams and attaching framing to those so some weight is carried from the ceiling.

Thanks for any thoughts on this - diagram below:

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Old 08-08-13, 11:28 AM
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I don't think you will have any problems, with the added load- certainly not from the walls and drywall, or from the fixtures- especially since the tub, shower and toilet are next to the load bearding wall on the left in your illustration. But if you plan to use much tile on the floors, the bigger question may be the joist deflection, which- depending on the type and grade of wood may be slightly undersized based on current standards- and also the dimension and strength of the subfloor.

Since your original joists are probably circa-1935, they are probably much stronger than any of the new growth wood used today.
Old 08-08-13, 10:21 PM
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How's the wife going to get from her new bathroom down to the lower level? With the stairway removed, jumping out of a window is an option, but getting back up may prove to be a challenge.

All kidding aside (and I assume you have another stairway between floors), make sure you provide some decent insulation of the water supply lines in that exterior wall. I've heard Texas can sometimes experience freezing temperatures. Trust me, a frozen water pipe is not fun--house in NM had quite a few thousand $$$ in damage, which thankfully, the repairs of which State Farm picked up the tab.
Old 08-09-13, 12:16 PM
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Join Date: Aug 2013
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Thanks for the replies guys -

Since the whole floor will go in that room (subfloor is a bunch of 1x4's as I recall, prefer plywood subfloor!) I can add bracing or joists if there's space between lighting.

I'm not even gonna try to tile it though - that's a long span and this old house can be a little springy in the big rooms. Probably go with bamboo or something. i's not so old that the lumber is "true" dimensional (I lived in a 20's house where a 2x4 was really 2x4) but man, it's some nice dense lumber, weighs twice what the modern stuff does, even after drying for decades. I save every last scrap and re-use.

And yes, the stacked duplexes around here all have back stairways, part of the rental code back in the day I suppose. We do have a "main" stairway in the front and we've opened that wall into the living room, really nice.

We do get some freezing down here, and I've had pipes freeze in the crawlspace once, close to a vent. The walls are uninsulated in rooms that haven't been remodeled. I've replumbed the entire house supply with PEX (all the way to the damn street!), but I do also wrap the pipes in exterior walls - and I'm about 3/4 done with a full-on crawlspace encapsulation. A 4" drain was run into the upstairs joist space at the back wall when the kitchen was done (planning ahead is nice!) so drain's ready to go and I should only have to drill one joist. There's a 2" drain waiting where sinks/counters go from when i had downstairs walls open. Even had the roofers add some plumbing vents after the softball-sized hail we had... so someday I'll get started on this!

Thanks again!

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