One of the biggest concerns when we bought the house was that one of the main beams in the kitchen had a major crack in it. The bank had put three 4x4s to keep the beam in place, but it was up to us to replace it.
We had a structural engineer in to give us details of the load required. Luckily the beam supported the second floor, but did not support the roof. So the load was less than it could have been. The options for fixing it included replacing the beam with another old beam, replace it with a steel beam and wrap it in old boards, or put in a standard LDL beam and wrap it. We could have also left the beam in place and added more appropriate supports. The problem with this last option was that it would leave us with a beam in the middle of the floor, where we want to put the island.
Quotes ranged anywhere from $200 to $12,000 to fix it. Luckily my brother-in-law, Gary Hayes, owner of Hayes Home Improvements came to the rescue. He felt confident that we could replace the beam with a reclaimed one fairly easily. So that was what we decided to do.
We started by visiting Rudy at Brooklyn Restoration Supply in Brooklyn, Connecticut. This place is amazing! Rudy has quite a collection of old doors, windows, hardware, and of course beams, that he has collected over the years. It’s worth the drive just to look around. Here is a look at the beam barn.
After looking through literally hundreds of beams we found two beauties. A 14 footer that will span the kitchen. And a ten footer than we’ll cut down and use to support one end of the beam. When they originally built the house they were able to lay the beams into the notches on both ends. But since we’re working with a replacement, we could only notch one side. We planned to use the shorter one to support the beam on the other side vertically. I strapped the two beams to my raft trailer and we were ready to go.
One Tuesday afternoon Gary came over with house jacks and he got started by jacking up the cracked beam to a high enough level.
Once it was just slightly above level Gary built supporting walls on both side of the beam to carry the loads coming in from each side
Once that was supported Gary started demoing the broken beam. He had to take it out in several chunks because the sub-floor above was nailed in along the way.
Next Gary measured the notches and cut them out of the fourteen footer.
Then we carried it in and started putting it up. We put the notch side in first and slowly worked the beam up into place. Gary had to make minor adjustments along the way in order to get it all the way set in.
When it finally got all the way in Gary added the shorter beam in for support. He then supported the new beam with a jack as he removed the outside support walls. Then he lowered the jack and BINGO – the new beam was supporting.
Gary added some steel brackets for extra support and covered them with cut pieces from the beam.
With the lack of lighting in the kitchen it is hard to get a really great picture. But stay tuned for future posts about the kitchen and make note of the new beam!