Any Advice on Building an 8x8 Room Inside a Loft in an Old Factory


I want to build an 8x8 room, inside a large room with hardwood floors. Building the room is OK with landlord. I want to use metal studs, and I want the room to be a freestanding cube with a floor and a ceiling. I want to use the ceiling on top of the cube as storage space and a guest sleeping area, so it needs to support some load.
I've done a bit of construction work before, but one thing I haven't done much of is framing, and I've never used metal studs. I'm wondering if I can use metal studs for the base and top sill - will they provide enough support? Is there any reason NOT to use metal studs, and use wood instead?
My other concern si not attaching the room to the existing structure. I would like it to be a freestanding cube. Does anyone know if there is any problem with this idea?
One last question - what is the best way to bolt it to the floor?
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There may be a number of code/safety issues to consider here.
If you live in an earthquake prone area, I'd be a little nervous about a freestanding room, especially one that is going to be top-heavy due to storage and/or guests.
The top is going to have to meet requirements for a "regular" floor, since it will have to support the dead load of the storage as well as the live load of 1 or 2 people climbing into bed. So you are going to need joists, a subfloor and possibly a finish floor. Go to http://www.awc.org/calculators/span/calc/timbercalcstyle.asp to determine the joist size based on what you are planning to put on top of the cube.
By the way, even if the top of the cube is the full 8 x 8, that's pretty cramped for sleeping area. A single bed is going to take up over a third of that space, which I guess is OK in an emergency.
I'm also a little confused by 2 seemingly contradicting lines in your post.
First you say: My...concern is not attaching the room to the existing structure. Then you ask: what is the best way to bolt it to the floor?
So, let's assume it is going to be attached, at least at the floor. Let's also assume you don't want your guests rolling out of bed and falling to the floor - which means a railing of some type. Consider extending the corner posts up to the existing ceiling and attaching them to the joists of the existing structure. This will give you both a firm attachment to the existing structure and a firm place to attach your railings to. Seeing that the cube is going to be top heavy, you are going to want to have some means to prevent racking. Attaching the cube to the existing ceiling will prevent that. If not, you might want to consider bracing on the side walls.
While I've never used metal studs, I do know that they do not have any real strength until the drywall is attached. I can't imagine how they could be used as the top plate to support the joists you are going to need to build the floor on top of the cube.
Finally, If you are planning to brace the side walls, you'll need to use plywood because I wouldn't rely on drywall to provide enough bracing strength for a top heavy cube.
Check out these pictures to see the effect of wind on a freestanding structure that wasn't braced properly. http://www.unified-eng.com/ch/bracing.html I know you won't be dealing with wind, but I can imagine that an uneven load on the top of a free standing cube might eventually have the same effect.
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DerbyDad03 wrote:

wood 2x4's, maybe some 2x6's for the "roof", some 1/2" osb for the walls and roof, and you should be good to go. youre not building the taj mahal. siesmic loads? give me a break. what are you afraid of--that little box falling on you? i'd think it'd be safer if the building started collapsing to be in a little shelter. you could screw it to the floor with some 3" deck screws. for light storage it'd be fine. (don't be storing your anvil collection up there.)
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Form and function, my dear marson, form and function.
While the OP may not be building the taj mahal, it does sound like he is building a room within a living space - note the mention of a sleeping area for guests. Therefore he might want the room to look nice, both inside and out. OSB might not fit the bill here from a "form" perspective, but yes, it would be "functional".
You mentioned 2x6's for the roof and that might be fine for this application, although the OP did not mention his requirements other than "it needs to support some load." Without knowing what his storage needs are (or the size of his guests) I wasn't going to suggest a joist size. That's up to him to determine based on his requirements. Perhaps he does indeed have an anvil collection that he needs to store - or some pretty beefy guests.
As for the extension of the corner posts up the existing joists - again, if this going to be inside a living area and needs to look nice, the corner posts would provide both form and function. A secure railing would not only be functional from a safety perspective, but would look nice (read: form).
Marson Wrote:
jeez, that sounds like a lot of engineering for a little box. i'd get some wood 2x4's, maybe some 2x6's for the "roof", some 1/2" osb for the walls and roof, and you should be good to go. youre not building the taj mahal. siesmic loads? give me a break. what are you afraid of--that little box falling on you? i'd think it'd be safer if the building started collapsing to be in a little shelter. you could screw it to the floor with some 3" deck screws. for light storage it'd be fine. (don't be storing your anvil collection up there.)

some wood 2x4's, maybe some 2x6's for the "roof", some 1/2" osb for the walls and roof, and you should be good to go. youre not building the taj mahal. siesmic loads? give me a break. what are you afraid of--that little box falling on you? i'd think it'd be safer if the building started collapsing to be in a little shelter. you could screw it to the floor with some 3" deck screws. for light storage it'd be fine. (don't be storing your anvil collection up there.)
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first of all, he could cover the osb and studs with whatever he wants--drywall, panelling, whatever. but start with a plywood box for simplicity and ease of construction.
i will also go out on a limb and say that 2x6's will be just fine. it's not going to collapse. joists could even sag a bit, but it'll be fine.
mainly what i was reacting to was the implication that you had to have this thing engineered and built to code. maybe he is pulling a permit, but i doubt it. building codes are great things, but when we reach the day when a guy can't even build a doghouse without consulting a team of architects and engineers, it's a sad day.

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Personally, I would not think in the terms of a "room built out of construction materials", instead I would consider an "oversize cabinet". It could be built out of some framing materials with dados in the sides to fit in a sheet of plywood or whatever is preferred. This method could be used for all the walls. The ceiling would need a little more engineering to make it strong enough for storage. If one were to build a very large cabinet, there would be no need to pull a permit, it would keep the weight down to reduce structural consideration on the existing building floor and would be simpler to build and possibly knock down when the time comes. Metal studs will not be strong enough to hold weight, they are only strong enough to hold up some drywall, unless you go all the way to structural metal studding, which will cost more, weigh more and be harder to use.

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I wonder about the whole situation. Is the building zoned for living space? There may be some serious code issues if it is truly an industrial building.
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This is a good point, although the OP didn't specify what the interior of the 8 x 8 space would be used for. Stud walls may be required if he wanted to add shelfs, etc.
I am curious about your suggestion though. I suppose it couldn't rack because the plywood can't rack across its plane. Do you think it would necessary to secure the plywood into the dados in any manner or do you think that the frame itself would hold it all together once the plywood was inserted and the frame secured at the corners?
Interesting.
EXT wrote:

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Thanks for this awesome advice. I love all the different perspectives, that's exactly what I needed.
Here's some background on the context: The building is of questionable legality as regards codes, zonings, or whatever else. There is a risk involved that I could be tossed out of here. But I've been here two years, and I think for whatever reason the city is turning a blind eye to it. If I can get a year of use out of this room, I'll be satisfied.
So, things need not be necessarily "up to code". But I want it to be safe and structurally sound. There will be no wiring involved. Just a freakin' cube. I want to make it pretty close to soundproof, to use for recording - that's why I would prefer not to attach it to the walls, so as to avoid picking up vibrations from adjoining units. I will also be using it for additional storage space (putting up some shelves to hold blankets, towels etc.), and I'll have a bed on the inside as well for an additional guest sleeping area. It will be a multipurpose room/glorified closet.
Two things that interested me: the idea of "cross bracing" or "diagonal bracing". What is this exactly? I'm going to use wood studs, because I'm familiar with them. So if the walls are 2x4 base, top sill and studs, and then sheet rock on top of that - where does the bracing come into play? Do the braces go between the studs and the sheetrock?
Secondly, it sounds like I could do this WITHOUT bolting it to the floor? That would be best, because I would like to be able to easily tear it down if/when necessary. Do I understand that I could build this without bolting it to the floor, without seriously compromising structural stability?
Finally a question about the 'roof': let's say I put up all four walls, with 2x4 top sills. Do I then nail the 2x6s to the TOP of the top sill, with the 2x6s on edge?
As for the railings, I was planning to make two sides of the cube 10 feet high. So on two sides it would be 10 ft high, one side is up near another wall so there is no danger of falling, and the last side will be 8 ft high. The ceiling of the unit is about 13 ft. so there is still some clearance.
Thanks so much for this advice. I was thinking of hiring someone to do it, but more and more I'm thinking I want to do it myself, to save money and to learn something new and useful. I just want to avoid as many stupid mistakes as possible.
DerbyDad03 wrote:

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You might float it on inner tubes...
Nick
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Cross Bracing: In the old days, they used to attached a diagonal brace, such as a 1x4, across the studs by letting it into studs - cutting out enough material from the face of the studs so you ended up with a flat surface when you were done. If you don't plan to finish the interior and/or exterior of your cube, you could simply tack a 2x4 diagonally across the face of the studs for bracing. If you plan to finish the walls, but still want to brace them, then use sheets of plywood or osb attached to the face of the studs as bracing. That gives you a flat surface for your finish material. It may also help with the soundproofing a little bit.
The Roof: Consider using a double top plate instead of a single 2x4. This will provide better support for the joists than a single 2x4. Then stand the joists on edge and toe-nail the joists to the top sill.
I don't mean to sound degrading, but if you didn't know that that joists go on edge and on top of the top plate, then I suggest you do a little reading on framing before you get started. You want to build the walls in such a manner that you end up with your studs in correct locations for the drywall. This means paying special attention to how you frame the corners. You'll need to put a header in for the door, etc, etc.
Oh yeah...do a google search for soundproofing techniques. You may find that 2x4 construction may not provide space for enough insulation to make the room soundproof. I assume that if you want it truly soundproof, that will involve insulation in the floor and ceiling also. That may mean floor joists under the floor to provide room for insulation.
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On 22 Dec 2006 15:09:34 -0800, snipped-for-privacy@gmail.com wrote:

You COULD use load-bearing metal studs, but if you don't already have the tools and know how to work with the stuff, why would you want to? You're not going to save that much weight, because you're only replacing at most 9 2x4s and 36 2x3s.
What's going under the sleeping deck, and how much headroom is over it?

Other than it means you have to use diagonal braces and/or solid sheathing to keep it from rolling, no.

I can't think of any particular reason to want to, and the answer depends on what's the floor is made of.
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here's my favorite home construction booklet. http://www.buildingscience.com/resources/mold/Read_This_Before_You_Design_Build_or_Renovate.pdf but biggest concern should be fire alarm and fire resistant construction. when a warehouse is safely converted to residential use, they do not build a bedroom that small.
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