Category Archives: structural engineer

Notes, 22 July 2015

Third meeting of the busiest week yet for Steven with Ron Dahlke, who is cranking hard and fast on 12 cylinders. And it’s only Wednesday. Today’s agenda:

  • Roofing. Ron met with and Steven approved quote from Potter’s Roofing Co. to install sheetmetal and waterproofing at several locations; to remove existing and install new vent flashing in the lower and upper roofs; to patch where mushroom vents and the skylight are removed — and other damaged areas; and to replace the chimney flashing with a new cricket that will move water away from the brick at the back of the chimney where it meets the roof; water flows directly against the brick and existing flashing when it rains. This is wrong. Some of these tasks are built into existing line-item budgets. Some of this work will require change orders. Why the change orders? Ron and the framers opened up the framing behind the chimney and discovered signs of water penetration traveling down the brick.
  • Pocket doors. Ron finalized and Steven approved quote from BMC for interior pocket doors — built into the framing materials line-item in the budget.
  • Exterior doors. Steven also approved second quote from BMC for exterior doors at the kitchen, back door and at at the mudroom into the garage — not including the front door and not including the back door to the garage. The front door is an entirely different task — and Ron is researching whether the back door to the garage must be fire rated.
  • Vanities, medicine cabinets, electrical. Steven delivered dimensional plans for the bathroom vanities, and the medicine cabinets that will be used in bath 2, the mudroom and master bath. This enables Ron and the framers to properly nail lumber into position for the medicine cabinets, which insert into the wall between studs. It also enables Ron, Sean the electrician, and Steven and Jacquela to properly position electrical outlets for the medicine cabinets, which feature built-in LED lighting, and for wall outlets adjacent to the vanities.
  • HVAC. Ron advises that the HVAC rough-in begins Thursday/tomorrow, 23 July.
  • Kitchen cabinets. Also 23 July, Aaron Pratt at Centex Custom Cabinets is scheduled to visit, to begin measuring for the kitchen cabinets.
  • Pending. Ron continues to track pending submittals from subcontractors for refinishing the wood floors and laying new wood; how to get electrical power through the slab to the kitchen island; and the candidates for the potential front door.
  • Discovery 1: Structure. Taking out the hearth to the left of and in front of the fireplace reveals the brick may be the only thing holding up the ceiling beams above the fireplace — and we may need to add structural support across the front of the fireplace under the ceiling beams. Ron is researching this with the structural engineer, Ben Feldt at Feldt Consulting Engineers.
  • Discovery 2: Insulation. Ron advises that the sheathing between the brick and studs on the first floor may need additional sealing DSC_2230— every time that demo took out an old cable or fixture, that left a hole in the sheathing. One way to fix this may be to deploy the painters with silicon before we begin insulation. Another approach might be to use expanding foam insulation instead of blown-in insulation. The building plan already calls for foam in the attic, upper and lower roofs, with blown-in insulation in the walls. There’s a cost delta to switch out to foam — should we do this selectively, only where needed, stud bay penetration by stud bay penetration? Or, should we just foam everything? Ron offers to schedule a meeting with the insulation contractor. Steven notes his history with foam — the current house is the first built by John Hagy Homes that is insulated with foam, helping to qualify the house for 3 stars with the Austin Energy Green Building Program — 11 years ago, when foam insulation was new to market. And … the foam yields an airtight house that is much easier to heat and cool, and vastly more efficient.

Separately, Steven met with and walked the house with one of the candidate companies to install the structured wiring system — security, low-voltage cables for TV, sound and phone, and the computer network.

Sketching the structural plan

Ben Feldt, structural engineer, Feldt Consulting Engineers, delivers plans that detail how to correct Emerald Hill, saving it from bad remodels, missing and insufficient structure, to rehabilitate it for the next 50 years.

Here’s his sketch of the first floor, with formal drawings to come:


Ben’s notes:

  1. Replace this existing section of 2-2×10 with double 1 3/4×9 ¼ LVL. This existing 2-2×10 has a pipe running through it that will be removed. Nail LVL’s together with 4 rows of 16d nails at 12” o.c.
  2. Replace 2-2×12 header with new 2-2×12 header continuous over window and door. Provide a single king and jack stud each side of header. The studs between the door and window should be jack stud (run to bottom of continuous header) and be 2-2×4 (this could be single 2×4 if necessary to fit new door and window but double is preferred.)
  3. Replace existing glulam with triple 1 3/4×14 LVL header. Remove existing double top plates. The LVL’s may be ripped to 13” deep to keep the same overall clearance that is currently there. Support each end of the beam with 3-2×6 jack studs. Furr-out side walls of library to 2×6 thickness or replace with 2×6 studs altogether.
  4. Header shall be 2-1 3/4×11 ¼ (or 11 7/8). Support each end with 3-2×4 jack studs.
  5. Beam is severely undersized. Replace with five 1 3/4×9 ¼ LVL beam. Bolt beam together with (2) 1/2″ diameter thru-bolts, one 2” from top and one 2” from bottom, not staggered). Attach common floor joists to side of new beam with Simpson LUS210 hangers.
  6. Reinforce beam with single 1 3/4×9 ¼ LVL nailed to outside face of existing 2-2×10 beam. Nail new LVL to existing 2-2×10 with 4 rows of 16d nails at 12” o.c.
  7. Use Simpson HU610 on new reinforced beam. Use Simpson HUS210-2 on existing 2-2×10 beam.
  8. Add five 1 3/4×9 ¼ LVL beam. Bolt beam together with (2) 1/2″ diameter thru-bolts, one 2” from top and one 2” from bottom, not staggered).
  9. Add double 1 3/4×9 ¼ LVL beams. Nail LVL’s together with 4 rows of 16d nails at 12” o.c. These 2 beams should sit no more than 24” apart and allow the toilet drain pipe to traverse right to left, essentially a “chase”.
  10. Replace header with 2-1 3/4×14 LVL. Support each end with 3-2×4 jack studs.
  11. Add/replace header with 2-1 3/4×11 ¼ (or 11 7/8) LVL. Support each end with 3-2×4 jack studs.
  12. Furr out wall as discussed to allow plumbing drain clearance.
  13. Use Simpson HU410.
  14. New 2-2×12 concealed/flush beam. Support each end with 2-2×4 jack studs.
  15. New 2-2×12 header. Support each end with 1-2×4 jack stud.

Here’s the sketch for the second floor:


Notes, 30 June 2015

  • Steven scheduled meetings in July with hardware suppliers to consider door handles, hinges, etc.
  • Barry Samsel from Custom Plumbing checked the “barrel-style” P-trap for mudroom sink, confirmed it will comply with City of Austin building codes.
  • Steven added the mudroom sink and bathroom vanities to the specification documents.
  • Mark Rehberg advises that Ben Feldt, engineer, did not deliver the structural framing plans he promised for 29 June. Mark is chasing Ben. Update: Plans delivered!
  • Steven spoke with Bryan Mitchell from Carrier. The Cor Internet-connected thermostats continue in development and will be streamed into Emerald Hill as soon as available, probably late 4Q 2015.

The structural engineer is MIA FOUND!

Update at 250 pm

Ben Feldt messages that he was out of town, says he will be working over the weekend to get us the framing plan by Monday.


Original post

We should be framing.

We can’t.

We have not received the structural engineering plan from Ben Feldt at Feldt Consulting Engineers.

Ben inspected Emerald Hill on 19 June. He promised the plan would be sent to Ranserve. Quickly.

Mark and Ron ordered the framing lumber. It’s already delivered, stacked neatly across the first floor of the house. Waiting.

Mark, Ron and Steve have called and messaged. No response. So far.

“Time is money,” Mark said to Steve as he considers options.

Back in the remodel saddle

Back from NYC and “day job” earning money to pay for this remodel, tackling the to-do list:

  • Manual J. Kyle from Elite advises that his math now calls for 4 tons HVAC, after reviewing numbers with Austin Energy Green Building. Kyle updated system configuration, saving the Leons approximately $500. Kyle advises he will contact AEGB with updated numbers and share copy with Steven.

HVAC observation. Emerald Hill at approximately 3200 sq ft heated will have half the HVAC "tonnage" as the Leon's existing 4200 sq ft heated -- 4 tons dual speed at Emerald Hill vs. 8 tons multispeed at Sea Eagle View. Emerald Hill is getting new insulation -- foam in the attic, blown-in in the walls, new exterior sheathing, new siding, new dual-pane insulated windows, and more, but will that suffice when Sea Eagle has foam everywhere? This math is worrisome ...

Kyle messages: "Bigger system will give you the extra capacity to cool the house more quickly if you wanted it cooler than 75 degrees when it is more than 100 outside and also will give you extra capacity if you have a lot of guests.

"The smaller system will run more often and remove humidity better and generally speaking be more efficient."

  • Habitat. Mark Rehberg from Ranserve reports Habitat pickups #2 and #3 of donated items are now scheduled for 2 July and 8 July.
  • Structural Engineer. Steven pinged Ben Feldt to ask for ETA on structural engineering needed for wood framing, plumbers, HVAC chases.
  • Exterior siding. Brett Grinkmeyer, architect; Mark and Ron from Ranserve; and Steven will schedule a meeting at Ranserve to review options for Hardie exterior siding — what reveal, what finish, what labor budget, what materials budget.
  • Front door. This is a Critical Path Item (CPI). Steven is working with Mark and Ron to identify options — wood species, paintable or stainable, glass or no glass.
  • Doors. Additional exterior doors at kitchen, back door, garage, and interior doors. Mark tells Steven that Ranserve has received proposal from BMC West. Ron is reviewing. Steven asks to share.
  • Door hardware/handles. Steven began contacting 2-3 weeks ago suppliers of door “jewelry” recommended by Ranserve. He’s starting to get responses.
  • First draw. Steven is coordinating paperwork for first draw payment to Ranserve by SouthStar Bank SSB. It’s a process. Brett Grinkmeyer completed his architectural signoff. Kathleen Baker at Ranserve has to complete form supplied by Dawn Embry at SouthStar. Steven will sign. Larry Weisinger at SouthStar will inspect house. Ranserve will receive money.
  • Plumbing fixtures. Ron, site supervisor, and Barry at Custom Plumbing are to complete review of plumbing fixtures selected by Jacquela and Steven. With that review, Kathleen from Ranserve and Steven will be able to finalize the Ferguson order.
  • Flooring. Will we be able to save and refinish the existing oak floors?

Structural engineering and plumbing

With the house down to studs, it’s time to map framing changes with the structural engineer, Ben Feldt from Feldt Consulting Engineers, and the plumber, Barry Samsel from Custom Plumbing Services.

Plumbing needs chases for pipes — waste, hot and cold water supplies, venting stacks — with enough vertical height to ensure the 1/4+-inch slope required by code.

Ron needs Ben to spec the locations and sizes for the chases.

Ben confirmed we can take out the non-loadbearing wall between the kitchen and family room, to create a “Great Room.” He will properly size the beam that will replace the undersized beam between the family and living rooms — the beam that is visibly deflecting under the second-floor loads. He will size beams for the ceiling in order to properly move the rabbit-warren of walls in what will become Jadin’s bath, aka “bath 2.” He will spec beams and studs elsewhere in the house to fix structural issues — at the back door and windows in the family room, in the master bedroom and the kitchen ceiling under the master bedroom, and elsewhere.

We knew the house needed these fixes. There are no surprises. We did our homework in the planning and discussion phase for this remodel. And we went spelunking, opening up holes in the drywall to confirm our suspicions, drawing the changes into the plans with Brett the architect and Michelle, keeper of all things budget at Ranserve.

From left, Barry, Ron, Ben and Jorge Santiago (from Feldt) talk through and sketch structural changes to the ceiling over the living room.
In bath 2, figuring out where to insert beams to carry loads.
In bath 2, using the LED light of a smartphone to figure out where to insert beams to carry loads. Yes, there is an app for that … Jorge at left, Ben in the middle, Ron at right.
Barry and Ron. This may be Steven's favorite photo of the remodel, so far. The lighting makes it look and feel reminiscent of a Renaissance painting.
Barry and Ron. This may be Steven’s favorite photo of the remodel, so far. The lighting makes it look and feel reminiscent of a Renaissance painting.