Trained Eye

 
 
 

Moving Telepost

Question:

Dear Mr. Marantz

We are planning to renovate our basement and would like to know if it is possible to move a telepost? Any information you can give us would be helpful.

Thank you.

Answer:

The first thing I would like to do is complement you on seeking advice before attempting something that could cause serious structural damage to your home. Many times I have gone into basements during Pre-Purchase Inspections and found posts or teleposts removed without any other modifications to the floor structure. The results can be excessively sagging beams and floor joists, wall cracking, and structural damage. This is not something to be attempted without consultation with a Licensed Structural Engineer or General Contractor who has an Engineer available for review of plans.

The reason that moving a telepost is so serious goes to the basic structure of a house. The teleposts in the basement will be installed to sit directly on or above footings beneath the concrete floor slab. These footings are designed to carry the load of the main beam or beams in the floor structure, which transfer the load from the house walls and all the way down from the roof. The load bearing of the footings, which are not visible after construction, is normally calculated by a structural engineer before the home is built. Review of the foundation plan by a Professional Engineer is required for a new home before building permits are issued. This ensures that the footings, posts, beams and floor joists are all properly sized and spaced to accommodate normal loads from occupants and storage in the home.

If one or more of these posts are moved, even a small distance off the footing, serious damage may occur to the home. Fortunately, moving a post is not impossible, but modifications to the floor structure will be required to accomplish this. Without getting into complicated specifics, the easiest way to move a post is to strengthen the floor system that it is holding up. This may be accomplished by adding extra joists or beams or simply reinforcing the existing components. The simplest method is often removal of the post completely after increasing the strength of the beam it is supporting. The beam can be “beefed up” by adding to its width or depth.

With a beam constructed of laminated two inch dimensional lumber, extra layers may be added to increase the load bearing properties. Conversely, different building materials may be attached to the existing beam to increase the strength. Steel angles are often bolted to wooden beams for strengthening. Also, engineered beams may be incorporated into the floor system in addition to the existing structural components. In some cases, the older beam may be removed and replaced with a new, engineered beam with much higher strength. Whatever method is employed for upgrades and post removal, the remaining footings and posts should not be overlooked. The existing ones may not have the capacity or strength to carry the additional load from the larger beam. The previous weight, carried evenly by three supports, is now transferred to only two. The posts may have to be replaced, if the original footings are sufficient for the changes planned.

This gets me back to my original point. This is not a job for the “weekend warrior” with little more than a skill saw and hammer. Professional help is a must, to prevent serious consequences.

 

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