Standing tall

So if you remember, in my last post I promised to talk about the structural elements of my build? Well, the interior walls could only be knocked down once the proper supports were in place. These supports included multiple “RSJs“… or rolled steel joints. See those big red beams in the photo below? Those are RSJs and they are now responsible for holding up half of my house! I wander down most mornings and take a peak, just to see if it’s still standing…


It’s a mess, isn’t it?!


In the new kitchen (there were others installed, but that’s not the point) we had two RSJs installed, one lengthwise flowing towards the back garden and another sat across the width of the house.

A bit of research turned up why these beams are so vital and do their job so well (aside from the obvious reasons, folks). If you look closely, you’ll notice that these beams look like an “I”. The vertical portion of the beam is called the “web” and it resists shear forces, while the horizontal elements resist most of the bending. What this creates is a structurally sound and reinforced steel beam, built to withstand bending. Phew… I think my worries about collapse may be unfounded?

So how did our builders know what we needed?

Before building began we enlisted the services of a structural engineer. As we were having a number of chimneys taken down and changing the shape of our home, this was a necessity. Initially I hadn’t considered the need for a structural engineer and assumed our architectural technician would be capable of advising us our our needs. I was obviously wrong and was unprepared for the additional cost, so to first timers: don’t be like me! There are architects who offer engineering services as well, but I found those to be much more expensive and decided to look for a separate provider.

Once these RSJs were installed they had to be inspected by the Building Control of my local council. In the UK all building projects where structural adjustments are made have to be inspected and certified as formally approved. Without this certification, you run the risk of your new space not being considered part of your home. I’ve seen it on houses being sold whereby there is a loft conversion but it is not listed as a room because Building Control hasn’t approved the structural integrity of the space. While I don’t know the process in other countries, I can imagine there are similar controls in place, to ensure public safety so do check in your municipality.

Happy building and happy planning!

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