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Hire an Architect to Design Your Project

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    LESLIE: Now we’ve got Richard in Washington on the line who’s doing an addition and needs a hand. What can we do for you today?

    RICHARD: Actually, here’s what I’ve got. I’ve got a house built in 1938: a footprint – essentially, a shape like a cross.

    TOM: OK.

    RICHARD: The bottom portion of that cross used to be the garage. They turned it into living space and what they simply did with that bottom left quadrant, they poured about a 4-foot-high concrete wall.

    What I’m wanting to do is try to gain as much ceiling height as possible. It’s currently framed with 2×10 for the ceiling joists. And I just didn’t know if some of the new engineered lumber would allow me to perhaps get away with something a little shallower while still retaining the strength. But need to go 16 on center – pardon me, 12 on center instead of 16. I’m willing to do that.

    TOM: So, Richard, let me ask – let me stop you, OK, because you’ve got a complicated question. And my first question to you about this is: do you have an architect working with you on this project?

    RICHARD: Not currently.

    TOM: You need one, OK?

    RICHARD: OK.

    TOM: This is not a do-it-yourself, general-contracting kind of project. You’ve got a house that you started with that’s got problems. It sounds like – it definitely sounds like the guy before you didn’t have an architect; otherwise, he wouldn’t have designed all these drainage problems into it. And then the guy that came before that, that originally built the house, didn’t have an architect: at least one that knew what he was doing. You, my friend, need an architect.

    An architect can look at this situation, address these questions in terms of the design, the elevation and spec out the lumber that you’re going to need to get you where you want to go. Yes, will TJIs or laminated beams help you get more span with less depth? Yes, they will. But it’s an engineering problem to figure out which ones you use and how you lay it all together.

    So I would tell you, “Stop, right now.” Stop wasting time trying to figure this out on your own and focus on finding an architect to help you. You will be spending some money on this design. It will be well worth it. You will avoid a whole host of problems with the design later on. And secondly, you’re also going to have a set of specs that you can use to go to different contractors and get some prices. So that’s definitely your next step.

    RICHARD: OK. I guess that covers it.

    TOM: Richard, good luck with that project. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.

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