Handyman Cut Basement Beam

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  #1  
Old 06-17-19, 07:53 AM
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Angry Handyman Cut Basement Beam

TLDR: Handyman unexpectedly cut out a section of a basement beam that holds my floor joists with no architect/engineer approval. What should I do?

I'm finishing off half of an unfinished basement. I hired a handyman to install some windows and do some minor framing changes. To my surprise he cut a section out of one of two beams that hold up the floor joists above my basement.

I asked the handyman to header off some floor joists that sit atop a beam to gain some additional headroom in the stairway from an upper level. The beam spans about 16' from one of the gable sides of my house to the interior corner of a concrete block wall that's part of my garage. Floor joists sit atop the beam.

I was expecting the handyman to cut the joists shorter and add a header on top of the beam. He did that, but he also cut out the section of the beam below the header, so that the header spans across the cut section of the beam.

As part of the basement framing, I built a 2x6 stud wall under the beam, with 3 openings for the stairway and two doors. That's probably what's holding up the two sides of the cut beam now.

Needless to say, I'm freaking out. No architect or engineer signed off on this change and I'd be surprised if I could find one that would. I was planning to call for the framing inspection, but I don't think the building inspector will sign off with a big section of beam missing. That change is not shown on the drawings I submitted.

Anyone have any advice? Should I put a claim in on the handyman's insurance? I was thinking of telling him he has to make this right by finding an architect/engineer to sign off on the change.
 

Last edited by acebojangles; 06-17-19 at 08:51 AM.
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  #2  
Old 06-17-19, 08:57 AM
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This isn't something we can guide you on sight unseen, so yes, you would be wise to get a structural engineer to look at it in person. If the 2x6 wall under the beam is now load bearing, the floor under that wall needs to have a footing.
 
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Old 06-17-19, 09:05 AM
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Thanks. Any advice on what to do when a contractor does something like this in general?

Is filing an insurance claim the right way to go?
 
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Old 06-17-19, 09:15 AM
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I'm not an expert but I think insurance will be doubtful since it was not an accident or act of Mother Nature. You paid someone to do the work. If you feel lucky you could try going after the "handy man" in court for damages but that will be tough at best.
 
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Old 06-17-19, 09:18 AM
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First step is asking him to make it right by getting an engineers stamp on his work.

If he isn't cooperative ask for a copy of his liability insurance certificate... since he / they will need to stand behind it if its substandard work. Then contact his insurance and ask them how they would like to proceed as this will likely result in a claim against them.

You could also call your homeowners insurance company to ask them for advice on how you should proceed and let the two insurance companies figure out how to handle it.

If he doesn't have liability insurance, then it's on you to sue him for damages... good luck collecting on that.
 
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Old 06-17-19, 10:40 AM
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I think accident is another term for negligence. Isn't that what general liability insurance is for?

Thanks for the replies everyone.
 
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Old 06-19-19, 04:20 AM
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Since when does a handyman have liability insurance? If you expected a professional job you should have hired one. Not trying to be offensive just realistic. I’ve never thought a handyman would have all the overhead of a professional contractor. I would expect you outlined specifically what he was to do. If you gave him the freedom to do it his way without knowing how he was going to accomplish the task then you trusted his knowledge and judgment. You get what you pay for.
 
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Old 06-19-19, 08:25 AM
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The thing is you really dont know that an issue was created by his actions!

Any "next steps" are going to require proof that his work created an unsafe condition!
 
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Old 06-19-19, 04:27 PM
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The thing is you really dont know that an issue was created by his actions!
If this is really a "beam" like the op says, there are few circumstances where drilling, notching or cutting into a beam is "okay". The codes on notching and boring would apply. But cutting a section of beam out? No.
 
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Old 06-20-19, 04:37 PM
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They remove whole sections of joists to put tubs and showers in all the time. Think of a big cut out for a stairway going up to the second floor of a house. They double box off the end for support, sort of like cross blocking. Pictures would help otherwise we are just guessing.
 
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