We recently covered the HVAC selection and install, and also the design of the beam. Now it’s time to get to the good stuff… demo & installation!

We were so excited for this day. DEMO DAY!  When we were planning this project back before Connor was born, we had originally planned to do all of this ourselves.  Taking a sledgehammer to some perfectly clean drywall?  Does it get any better than that?

Side note…Does anyone else like Brooklyn 99?  It’s one of our guilty pleasures. Demo is probably the most fun part of any project (with the exception of sitting down once you’re done and enjoying the finished product), so why would we pay someone to do it?

Well, since life and contractors got in the way, and Connor came along before we ever got there, we decided that making a huge, unsafe mess of our living room with a curious baby toddler ( 🙁  ) around probably wasn’t the best idea.  Also, I remember an instance of asking one of the contractors how much demolition would cost if he were to do it, and he asked about getting a dumpster.  In all of our excitement to do demolition, we never actually thought about what we were going to do with all of the trash and torn down drywall.  Our trash service sucks, as in they charge $35 bucks for picking up old carpet to dispose of, so we’d hate to see what the cost of hauling all of this wall trash would be (yes, we ended up being cheapos per usual and throwing that carpet away over a few weeks of trash pickup by splitting it up into our trash can over time haha).  And the least fun part of the project: cleanup.  So we sucked it up and paid the contractor a bit more to do this all for us.

So they started demo.  I was at work, and Dave was working from home, as usual.  I keep checking my phone, just waiting for pictures of every little update.  This was the first one I got.

So exciting!  It was really the first glimpse of seeing how large the room would actually be…. and it was frightening! You have an idea of how large the room will be based on the measurements, but once you actually take a wall down and get the feel for the room, there’s really no way of knowing. It felt HUGE.  I still can’t really believe it when I see it.

When I got home, I snapped some pictures, but I also got a sad face from David, as he said “we’ve got an issue.” 🙁

Apparently the beam in the basement ceiling was offset about 4 inches from the wall we were removing in the living room.  The vertical piece to the right below is the existing wall and the hole in the floor is where the I-Beam in the basement sits.

The plan was to put the new beam directly on top of the beam in the basement to handle the load.  Since the existing wall was a few inches closer to the front of the house, this meant that the floor joists for the second floor only went far enough to sit on top of that, ie, the floor joists in the front of the house were not long enough to be able to be connected the new beam in its new location. WOMP WOMP.

This meant we had to sister the joists to make them longer.  “Sistering a joist” means you add in an additional joist next to the existing one for more support, or in this case, make it longer.  It’s usually done when an existing floor joist is in bad shape and needs more strength to uphold the structure.

The below picture sort of illustrates it.  The yellow wood being the new sistered joist next to the old orange one.

In our situation we had two options.

Option 1: Sister the joists all the way back to the outside wall of the house.  This means we’d have to rip down ALL of the ceiling drywall on that side of the room and run all new joists along side of the existing ones that are just a few inches longer so that they connected to the new beam.

Option 2: Sister the joists back a few feet to extend the length of the joist, but use a very specific bolt pattern to sister them together and ensure the strength of the joist could handle the load.  We’d only have to cut back the ceiling drywall a bit, but it would also be a little more laborious to drill all of the holes and install the $13 bolts (wtf?!).

Our contractor recommended option 1.  Our engineer recommended option 2. Decisions decisions.  Between materials and labor, they both cost about the same, and both involved getting a revision on our permit with the county.

Ultimately, we decided on option 2 because the thought of ripping out ALL of the ceiling drywall on that side of the room kind of scared me. We were also worried about what we couldn’t see (electrical, supports between beams, etc) that could end up causing more issues once the drywall was down.  So they forged ahead over the next few days.  Below, you can see the new sister joists, but not bolted in yet.

The beam was also delivered from the local lumber yard around this time.  The flat bed truck had to park further down the street because we don’t think they would have been successful in maneuvering in our cul-de-sac.

It was a 21ft x 18in x 1 3/4in LVL beam with 4 layers.  Getting each piece into the house was comical to watch, and there were FOUR total… in the rain. Our contractor and his team were such nice guys and such hard workers, we were always in awe watching them work.

Here’s our little helper guarding the beam once it was inside the house 🙂

They built the two temporary walls on each side of the original wall to hold up the load while they  cut the joists and installed the beam.

Here, the joists are cut and prepared to be installed to onto the beam. The rectangular holes in the floor are the old HVAC air returns from the second floor.

Before the beam could actually be installed to support the load, the I-Beam in the basement that would ultimately be bearing the load had to be strengthened where the two end posts would be sitting on it that supported the beam on the main floor.  This involved a welder coming in and welding some steel pieces onto our basement I-Beam to give it more strength so it wouldn’t bend when the load came down on the two posts, per our engineer.

The team then loaded the new beam up into place!  Unfortunately, with a depth of 18 inches, and 10 inch floor joists, we were only able to recess about 10 inches of the beam into the floor above, so we will have 8 inches hanging down.  Not the desired scenario, but a small price to pay for opening this room up!

They installed the new joist hangers into the new beam and took down the temporary walls.  And guess what?  The second floor didn’t fall in on us! Thank goodness!  After they cleared away most of their work, the HVAC contractors came back to install the new supply and return ductwork that went to the second floor on this side of the house.

We’ll get into that a little more on the next post!  The contractors are currently finishing up all of the drywalling and David is finishing up his second job as electrician right now, finishing up the recessed lighting.

So as we get more progress, we’ll share it!  Sorry for not giving you juicy, big room pictures!  I’m just as excited for the reveal as you are!