Remodel or Not?

Remodel or Build New?

I am as guilty as most – my initial reaction is always to remodel, rather than build new. Even when it makes no practical or economic sense.

Reader JIM in LAWTON is working through one of these situations. He writes: 

“I have a 30 x 40 pole barn 32 years old. I want to take the 4/12 pitch trusses off and add bonus room trusses with a 10/12 pitch and a shingled roof, it is now metal. The new trusses will free span the 30’. My concern is the 4×6 posts holding everything up. They are 8’ on center, 54” down. I met with the building inspector and he inspected the poles and footers on two poles, one on each side of the building. The footers are a concrete block 4x8x16, poles are 4×6. I drove two nails in the two exposed posts 6” and 12” down and the centers didn’t seem soft at all. The building inspector says go ahead and beef up the headers and build up. I don’t want any issues. I am doing the work myself. Do you feel there is anything else I should do to confirm the posts will support the additional weight? The room is going to be an extra bedroom. Anything else meaning contact a structural engineer and pay big bucks for their opinion. Thanks, Jim.”

You are aware your remodel will be more expensive than erecting a brand new building?

Chances are good your existing building was built as a low risk building, if it was engineered and permitted at all. Adding in a bedroom makes it a higher risk building, increasing design loads for both wind and snow. From your limited information provided, your columns will not be large enough, footing diameters will need to be increased, headers (truss carriers) will need to be increased to support probably at least a load twice as much as what was there.

If you do indeed decide to move forward as you suggest, you would be making a grave error to not have an engineer inspect what you have and make recommendations to bring your existing building up to current Code and to be adequate to support your remodeled design.

 Mike the Pole Barn Guru

P.S. Due to shingles’ very short lifespan, I would recommend you go with a steel roof.

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