I have a rancher with a finished basement that sits about 6' below
grade. There are 3 small windows 17x31" at about 6' from the floor,
and they have semi-circle wells outside of them. It also has a 32" x
77" door with a small landing and an open cinderblock stairway of 11
steps straight out to the backyard.
What I'd like to do is widen this door and stairway. The cement on
the cinderblocks is 30 years old, and its chipping away, plus its
looking brown and moldy. If we are going to take the time to redo
this stairway, I'd like to widen the doorway to let more sun into the
basement. The doorway faces almost SSE.
Do I need some sort of structural engineer to come talk to me about
this? Or will a good contractor know how to do this correctly?
Also, I'd like to add a couple more small windows. Possibly one with
egress capabilities in the guest room. I heard it's best to hire a
concrete cutting company to do this type of work, can they tell me if
it's structurally ok to proceed?
The work you describe should be within the capabilities of a competent
You can do a lot of the research and recording needed for a structural
Measure & record floor plan of the area you want to work on; direction,
size & spacing of floor frame supported by the foundation; same for
edge beams ( the members at the edge of the floor ); any special loads
like walls, columns, equipment, tubs suppored by the floor,
There are a couple of span tables available on the internet for rough
check of structure.
I would have a structural engineer check the proposed arrangement.
Consider it cheap insurance if anything goes wrong.
If you are planning to contract the work out and you have a
builder in mind, work with him. He may already have a structural
man that he works with. If you are going to bid the work out, you
will be comparing apples...... if all contractors are bidding the
same job. An architect would design, draw, get structural
approval, and oversee the bid/build/construction inspection
routine. (He might even get through code plan and review faster)
If I were doing it as a contractor, I would want a structural
engineer's written approval/drawing. Most code inspectors would
expect to see a stamped drawing. The structural engineers with
whom I work will not take a verbal description of issues, they
insist on doing an on-site inspection. I usually have a method in
mind and expect them to come up with proper sizing/strength. I am
usually surprised that smaller elements are required than I had
planned. Sometimes they see an alternative install.
Keep the whole world singing . . . .
DanG (remove the sevens)
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