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Post and Beam Addition Needs Review  RSS feed

 
Graham Robertson
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Hi all,

I am somewhat new at timber framing and carpentry. I am 20 and apprenticed with a veteran carpenter turned natural builder, off and on for two years. I learned a lot about carpentry and I am now confident enough to offer my services. I recently started helping a local, semi-disabled Mexican DIY lady with her home renovations and landscaping. The work she has done on her house in 15 years is incredible and nothing short of miraculous. She hired a crew to rebuild the walls in stone which she salvaged from a wealthy homeowner who didnt like the color of the stone she ordered. The house is the most beautiful and inviting on the block, all on a shoestring budget.

Our current project is extending her existing concrete porch from 4x14 to 8x22. Her mother visited when she first bought the house 15 year ago and suggested that a big front porch is a much needed improvement. She hired a stone mason and me to lay a flagstone patio, and we are now starting on a post and beam roof extension to shelter and provide enclosure for the porch. Also for growing vines over the pathway to the house. She has also salvaged some "tejas" clay roof tiles to install over the new addition.



Basic layout of the structure. The drawing does not show the roof angles. If anyone wants to help with the drawing, PM me. We have four posts in the ground and I took today off to research our options for beam attachment.



Is this notching pattern strong enough? See how the 6x6 posts are faked by adding 2x6's and 2x4s, could i set a beam on top of a vertical 2x6 (screwed into the 4x4) if I cut into them as shown in the notch diagram? I assume the only other option would be to put the beams directly on top of the posts.


Before



We got a mistake special order 4x6x16 on clearance at more than 50% off! We added a 2x6 to the backside to give it a thicker appearance. There are now two more posts between. They are 4x4's with boards added to appear thicker.

Mostly writing this to document and allow feedback. Thanks for your support.
 
edwin lake
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I have even less experience than you with timber frame construction. However, I have the following observation:

1) Shouldn't the beam be on the inside of your posts; and
2) You need a way to put flashing beneath the existing roof shingles and on top of the new roof addition or you will get water leakage.
 
Graham Robertson
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edwin lake wrote:I have even less experience than you with timber frame construction. However, I have the following observation:

1) Shouldn't the beam be on the inside of your posts; and
2) You need a way to put flashing beneath the existing roof shingles and on top of the new roof addition or you will get water leakage.


The options for beam attachments are: one on either side of the posts, notched into the post, or both. Would it be best to do one on EACH side of the post or just on the inside or outside? And why?

The roofing we are getting are the curvy clay roof tiles that we call "tejas." Not sure how to attach flashing from petrol based shingles onto that kind. Any ideas? Thanks!
 
John Redman
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Location: Perkinston Mississippi zone 9a
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I would try to get the beams nailed together. Or if I was stuck on the split beam thing I would cap it with a 2x6 top plate, to land rafters on. On the other end I would pop the Sofia & facia off and attemp to get the new rafters attached to the existing rafters. with the new rafters dropped down so that the top of the tejas would intersect the bottom of the asphalt shingles. Where you should do some type of flashing plus mortar.
Also you may want to check the recommended pitch for the tejas, I have only noticed them on 4/12 and up around here.


 
Jay C. White Cloud
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Hello Graham,

I timber wright by trade, and you have some real water issues to address, that are going to be a challenge, with such a low pitch roof. I PM'd you if you want help.

Regards,

Jay
 
Graham Robertson
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Update on the structure.. It has been built without my presence since I was sick and she wanted to hire some other guys to do it faster. They screwed directly into the fascia and then where the roof extends, they screwed into the rafters and tarred any possible leaks.

As you can see the beams are not notched into the posts; this, coupled with the extension attachment, makes this structure not able to support a roof, IMO.

My question:

What can this roof support? Vines? Plastic roofing? Canvas?

And if it will be supporting vines or canvas (non-protecting materials), what kinds of sealants are good to protect the wood from weathering?
 
Jay C. White Cloud
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Hi Graham,

If you have a good relationship with this client, and want to maintain it. I would suggest that you respectfully decline any and all involvement with this work and the folks that did it. You do not want to be held responsible in any way for this work and if the client paid more than $800 in labor $1650 for the entire job, I know I would not be happy. This arbor will have a limited life span and is a good example of "get in, get done, get out," handyman work. steer clear of it. I would imagine that if you stood under one of the horizontal trellis members and gave it just a solid strike up, it would dislodge from it's roof attachment.

Good luck, and call if you need me.
 
Graham Robertson
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Jay C. White Cloud wrote:Hi Graham,

If you have a good relationship with this client, and want to maintain it. I would suggest that you respectfully decline any and all involvement with this work and the folks that did it. You do not want to be held responsible in any way for this work and if the client paid more than $800 in labor $1650 for the entire job, I know I would not be happy. This arbor will have a limited life span and is a good example of "get in, get done, get out," handyman work. steer clear of it. I would imagine that if you stood under one of the horizontal trellis members and gave it just a solid strike up, it would dislodge from it's roof attachment.

Good luck, and call if you need me.


I was disheartened when I heard they were continuing without me. She seemed pleased with the job, but I was having trouble holding in my disappointment with the attachment technique, from post to beam, and to the fascia. I was thinking the same thing, I could easily dislodge the rafters. I withheld my opinion when asked about how I liked the result. Your reasoning is definitely something I did not consciously consider.

Do you have any ideas for remediation and prevention the structure's failure? I may call you sometime in the next few days. Thanks for the support.
 
Jay C. White Cloud
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Hi Graham,

I have become a mentor to many young timber wrights across the country, (and world now,) because of my writing on the subject through the internet. Ever so often, one of them will run into a "tight spot," like this. I would, if I were you, and you have my permission, share what I said as a seasoned timber wright and designer. Often clients get themselves in a 'pickle," because of impatient and buying into something without really understanding it. I feel for them, but there lack of knowledge and impatiens is not your fault. If this showed up on a clients home that I oversaw, I would just say to them I don't do that kind of work. and will not have anything to do with it, I'm sorry that it has happened. You could salvage some of the wood I suppose, but unless she takes them to "small claims court." she is not going to get the other money back, and I wouldn't want them at any job I was on. That would just be unpleasant, unless they acknowledge there errors in the craftsmanship. They aren't necessarily bad people or "handymen," this is what most of America has come to expect...you see it everywhere.

Regards, jay
 
Graham Robertson
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Jay C. White Cloud wrote:Hi Graham,

I have become a mentor to many young timber wrights across the country, (and world now,) because of my writing on the subject through the internet. Ever so often, one of them will run into a "tight spot," like this. I would, if I were you, and you have my permission, share what I said as a seasoned timber wright and designer. Often clients get themselves in a 'pickle," because of impatient and buying into something without really understanding it. I feel for them, but there lack of knowledge and impatiens is not your fault. If this showed up on a clients home that I oversaw, I would just say to them I don't do that kind of work. and will not have anything to do with it, I'm sorry that it has happened. You could salvage some of the wood I suppose, but unless she takes them to "small claims court." she is not going to get the other money back, and I wouldn't want them at any job I was on. That would just be unpleasant, unless they acknowledge there errors in the craftsmanship. They aren't necessarily bad people or "handymen," this is what most of America has come to expect...you see it everywhere.

Regards, jay


I am actually confused because when they first came to observe, I was making marks to notch the posts for the beams, and they knew I intended to attach them that way. They also seemed very experienced and aware that you cannot just screw into the roof rafters if you are trying to make a roof addition. They were the ones who first presented the idea of cutting the roof back to the exterior wall and extending from there, which I am assuming would have been appropriate for a structural roof addition, with shingles and everything. I am also relieved, because I am not experienced enough to take on such operations, and would have ended up costing her money in terms of hours spent trying to figure it out, and possibly property damages if I messed up or water got into the roof during construction. It is really unfortunate chance that I got sick right when we were starting. I believe the results would be different if I was able to collaborate with the workers and the client to find a better solution.
 
Graham Robertson
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Thanks for your support Jay!
 
Graham Robertson
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Hi all,

I have considered Jay's advice, and while I agree that the execution of the structure was shoddy and unsafe at best, I have continued work on the porch addition. There is nothing that can be done about how it was built now, and I really like my client's vision: to create a more welcoming place that is "presentable." Porch culture is something that I see a great need for in our communities, so I jump on any efforts being made towards that end. The vast majority of houses in Dallas have porches 4 feet or less in depth, so no one wants to spend time there, hence alienation from street life.

Many people stop by while we are working to give appreciation of our efforts.

My client wants to put plastic corrugated roofing on top of the structure. We installed purlins and have bought the roofing. I am really apprehensive about putting any kind of impermeable material on top of the addition, for fear that it may act like a sail.

Are there any alternatives here?

If there was a roof on this, would the rafters be in danger of being pushed up by wind? They are just screwed onto the fascia... At a loss right now where to go from here/how to approach my client.
 
Graham Robertson
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Jon Kennedy
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Hi
Well after looking at this I personally agree with Jay C. I would not work on this, there are to many structural and drainage problems, like the new valley that is going to have to be made. This combined with the low pitch of the original roof ! Water is going to be a problem when and if it ever rains.
Personally I have learned that it is far better to have it designed and on paper before you start building and with remodeling you always have to look at the finished project!
But thats my .02$
Good Luck
Jon
 
Jay C. White Cloud
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Hello Jon,

We are in complete agreement, I wouldn't touch this, unless the client would let me start over.

Even'n Gramham,

Yes, my friend, there is a really possibly that any kind of roof on this structure will be ripped right off in a wind event, and because of the poor design and execution, it most likely will cause other damage as well to the house. Clients that are impatient and can't wait and/or don't want to spend the money to do work correctly, can be dangerous for a buddy career in architectural design and construction. Please be very careful. Please get a liability waver and a "hold harmless," contract from this client on all the work you do!!! I really can't stress this enough.

Regards,

jay

P.S. I really mean it about the wavers!! don't work on this job without them!!!
 
Graham Robertson
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I Really appreciate the help. I have been having struggles with deciding whether or not to do the work, and always for it, because the client is very adamant about getting it done, we share the same vision and work well together. Despite the unfortunate circumstances with the roof, I am really pleased with the results of our efforts. Lots of people are stopping to say hi and take pics. I will make sure she is aware of the risks you mentioned, and about the liability waiver... I must tread lightly, as I already brought up concerns about the safety of the structure and she assured me she wanted it that way.

Jay, I really admire your devotion to integrity and lifetime design. Lots of the guys I work with just take orders or dont know of alternatives to degenerative conventional construction.
 
Chris Kott
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Location: Toronto, Ontario
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Hi Graham.

If I haven't read this right, forgive me. The way I read Graham and Jon's posts, it seems to me that the roof structure isn't merely unfortunate. If you intend to make a career out of building, I don't think it's a good idea to start with your involvement in a project that will probably destroy that side of the house should a good stiff wind come along, and kill anyone the debris lands on. From what I can see, either it needs to be designed so the roofing material rips away from the structure in a high wind, or else the whole thing will come up, posts, rafters, the part of the original roof it's attached to, maybe the roof off the whole house if it's built well and the wind's blowing right. I don't know about anyone else, but I hear alarm bells and warning klaxxons and flashing red lights. Doesn't this kind of thing make your liability itch? Don't you live in a country where you can be sued for anything? Where recently in the news, a senior died in a nursing home because the nurse on call didn't know what to do because the policy of that home was ambiguous as to who was liable should death occur, and under what circumstances? Where you can be sued for saving a persons life should they not want to live?

These might be extreme examples, but I wouldn't endanger my livelihood that way. If I'd had people do that kind of job on my house, I'd sue. Wouldn't you? How much is it going to cost to fix that, worst-case scenario?

-CK
 
Jay C. White Cloud
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Graham,

I'm so glad others are voicing their thoughts on this. Over the past few days, I couldn't help but think about you and this project. You really need to distance yourself from this type of client. She is a liability for someone with as little experience as you have. I can't tell you how many cases I have seen of young contractor/designers trying to break into this field only to get "chewed up," by a "nice client." If you work on this job, it becomes your work, unless you create a very specific contract for the work you do and release documents for the work that is there. Frankly, I am reluctant to even say that. because this job fiscally is not worth the effort. If you feel you have to "tread lightly," around a client, "WALK AWAY." Your job is to be a skilled crafts person and facilitator of architecture, not placate a clients whimsy and desires if they go against good design and architectural performance. I have no problem educating a client, but when they start telling me how to do something, that is clearly incorrect, it is time to walk away.

Regards,

jay
 
Graham Robertson
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thanks for staying firm on your position. im going to ask her to let the ones who did the faulty structure take up the rest of the job. i have so many other projects and jobs that need my attention this season. thanks again.
 
Jay C. White Cloud
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I feel much better, good decision Graham. All the best to you, and give me a call or email, should you have any questions in the future.
 
Graham Robertson
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i am womdering about options for a proposal to redo the entire structure, drawing up specific dimensions and info to Allow online collaboration regrding engineering of the reframing, and roofing design. i think that many of the 2x and 4x4 could be reused on the trellised walk entrance that is in the sketchup drawing, at least the rafters which are four ft shorter for the trellised walk.

can structral posts be built on concrete piers using only mortared stone? i have sources for tons of broken bricks. or i am also putting in an order of limestone 6x6 blocks and could get extra for cheap.

very grateful for your contributions. i would be lost wihout you all.
 
Jay C. White Cloud
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Graham,

I am going to take you through this as if you are one of the students that work under me and run there own businesses. First, do not waste you time with this client too much. First step, get the total square footage of space that will be under the walk way and trellised patio. Take that number and multiply it by 25 and then 50. This is the cost range of the project, plus materials...period, not discussion. If she does't except that, move on. If you are going to do this for a living, and this isn't you Aunt, Mother, or some other relative. move on from it. (note, even if it is a relative, the price will not go lower than $15/ft sq. plus materials.)

If she is willing to pay for the new work to be done correctly in that price range, then re-post and/or email me and I will take you through this project.

Regards,

jay
 
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