Should you only build to code?
So many builders and tradesman stop at what the code requires. This falls under my earlier blog of “Good Enough”. The building code is the baseline not the end line.
Remodeling, New Homes, Commercial and Residential require more than just “to code”. Applying more than just code reduces call backs and improves the quality of your service.
Stone Slab Floor
This stone floor made of 3/4″ thick slabs cut to fit the floor space. We set the slabs over 1-1/2″ thick cement slab. The top of the finish stone is the same elevation as the finish wood flooring. We have a 1/4″ metal angle tucked under the slab edge to finish the stone to wood edge, everything is even at the top elevation.
The framed floor in the photo shows TJI floor joists and also LVL joists. The LVL joists are shorter elevation than the TJI. This is how we create room for the cement slab under the stone. If you were pouring a cement slab floor you would create the same situation (bathrooms and showers).
Flush or Drop Beam?
Do you opt for drop or flush beams? Drop beams are easy to install and easy for tradesman to run wires, pipes, ducts.
Which one is better?
Flush beam I have found serves multiple purposes and is always what I opt for. Yes it requires more installation labor, yes the electrician, plumber, HVAC contractors have to work around this. But the advantages are huge.
I always discuss with my structural engineer sizing and prefer wider over height, short and fat is perfect for this application. I always prefer the beam to be shorter in height than the floor joists. I always set the beam to the top of the joists. The gap at the bottom allows the needed wire or pipe to run past if needed. The drywall will also easily run past without a bump.
The biggest benefit over the two installations is the weight transfer above the beam. Most times you have a beam to cut span and also the engineer will stack weight from floors above on this beam. Have you ever been in an old house and the doors are angled? Floors by the door jamb have sunk down, or the top of the door is cut on some sort of angle so it will close?
The reason for this ( I really hope you see it in old houses and not new) is that there is no blocking between the joists running over the dropped beam or bearing wall.
With TJI joists you have to add squash blocks to the side of the joists. They work great when a door opening above aligns perfectly over the squash block but not when the other side is in between joists. The proper install for a drop beam or joists over a bearing wall is to add bearing solid blocking. The issue is most trades after the framer remove the blocks to run there items over. It is not code so the inspectors do not make you change it.
Flush beam in place tight under sheathing provides constant support and also provides continuous ceilings below. Solid blocking over bearing walls and monitoring trades provides the same constant support as well.
As the Builder or General Contractor you have the ability to sit with the structural engineer and architect to avoid future issues, include a higher level of finish.
Your workmanship and management shows in the level of quality provided by your detailed finishes. Most people do not notice these details and regardless if they do, you still spend the time and coordination to provide them. That is the difference between “Great work” or “Good Enough”.
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