Progress Update: Carpenter Chaos & Taking Things Into Our Own Hands

As I mentioned in our last update post, the past few weeks had us feeling confused and honestly disheartened. We spoke with 3 different carpenters regarding our structural engineers suggestions (reinforcing the existing roof framing, adding a beam in the ceiling to compensate for the partially load bearing wall we want to remove) and they all had different and seemingly very complicated ideas. I want to specifically note that we asked all of these carpenters to speak directly to our structural engineer to clarify any questions. They all seemed extremely averse to this idea (only one actually did it), and it really made no sense to us why they would ignore this resource. 

Rich in phone books, but poor in roof reinforcement! 

Rich in phone books, but poor in roof reinforcement! 

  • Carpenter 1 - Felt that using purlins was unnecessary and came up with some wackadoo plan which was the drawing in the previous post. 
  • Carpenter 2 - Did not seem phased by the project, but also made many (what we found out later to be false) assertions regarding the difficulty of individual tasks & disappeared and stopped returning our phone calls before providing a formal bid. 
  • Carpenter 3 - Told us that it would be the same cost to remove the whole roof and rebuild as it would be to reinforce the framing. He hung in there for a while, but eventually lost interest in our project and never provided a formal bid on the work. 

At a total loss, we set up a time to speak with our structural engineer to see if he could help us make sense of the differing opinions we'd been hearing. One, 30-minute pep talk later we were feeling confident again and ready to give those contractors hell! 

First we discussed the overall plan and why everyone seemed to have their own idea of what to do. In the words of our engineer "It is very simple, if it sounds like they are trying to make it complicated, you should move on and find a new carpenter." In his eyes, it is as easy as:

  1. slap a 2x6 next to every 2X4
  2. add 2 additional purlins to support the roof
  3. brace everything
  4. remove the load bearing wall
  5. put a beam in the ceiling to compensate for partially load bearing wall removal. 

He noted that drywall is cheap and easy to remove and it would be silly to pay someone to do the removal. As an added bonus, with the drywall out of the way, the contractors should have a clearer view of exactly what is going on and how they can go about fixing it. A direct quote: "hang in there and start swinging some sledges". Ugh - just love him. 

And so we listened. The first step was to get on youtube an figure out how the heck you go about taking down drywall. Once we had a list of tools needed (mainly a drywall saw) we headed to Home Depot. And the rest is history...high off of the thrill of demo, we ended up taking down a whole damn wall. We took the drywall off of the load bearing wall as well, but we need to wait to remove the framing until the extra support beam is put in.

Wall before we got our tiny hands on it. 

Wall before we got our tiny hands on it. 

emowithsaw.jpg
After! 

After! 

Our structural engineer gave us the contact information for the carpenter he uses on his projects. We gave him a ring and we FINALLY had the experience we had been hoping for: 

  • Contractor 4 - Had a few questions about the project but found it to be generally straight forward. After inspecting the space he spoke with our engineer and confirmed his plans. From there he sent us a concise bid which was less than we were expecting to pay. We have all of our fingers and toes crossed that this guy doesn't ghost us. 

Tiny Rehab Lessons: 

  • Bringing in a structural engineer at the beginning of the project was the best decision we've made thus far (not counting the matching jumpsuits) and it is the gift that keeps on giving 
  • Do your research and have a plan. Do not rely on contractors to tell you what needs to be done. Your structural engineer and the city guidelines will be your guiding light. 
  • When life gets you down, grab a sledge and start swinging! 

The electrical and plumbing repairs are taking a back seat while we work to finalize our plans.. 

-EmV with contributions from Em O