Thursday, August 8, 2013

Post and Beam House

So we were told by the realtor that this is a Crest-built home and that it was built as a post-and-beam house.

Now seriously, if you are thinking what I'm thinking, there's only one word that comes to mind... "Huh?"

Apparently, Crest is considered one of the top housing builders in this area, which means we can have a lot of assurance that short cuts were not taken to build this house. A big plus!

Post-and-Beam houses (also known as timer framing), as I understand it in rudimentary terms, is a house that relies largely on the foundation for support unlike most houses which are built with "load-bearing" walls and extra support beams within the house. When a wall in the house is considered load-bearing, it means that it is integral to the structural integrity of the house, and thus can never be removed. With a post-and-beam house, it has virtually no load-bearing walls, giving us the freedom to reorganize space much more freely.

The contractor worked yesterday on removing the patio door to get it ready to install the new exterior door. In doing so, I get to see what's going on inside:

On the bottom you can see the concrete foundation, the portion that sticks up above ground (tip of the ice-berg, so to speak).

We have a very odd door frame, one that is much thicker than what is generally expected in residential homes. There was definitely an interesting discussion with the sales-lady about the door we ordered, in trying to decide what kind of frame we would need to install it, since they do not make frames to fit walls this thick.

The extra thickness of the wall is for two reasons, as I understand it:
  1. Because of its reliance on the foundation for structural support, post-and-beam houses will have a thicker wall because of the added support required on exterior walls and the foundation. As you can see in the picture above, the wood on the outer walls is almost twice as thick as the regular two-by-four beam normally used like on the inside wall. 
  2. Instead of placing the wall wood beams on top of the concrete like most residential basements, Crest build it with wood boards in front of the concrete foundation (as you see in the picture) so that the dry wall could be nailed all the way to the bottom. You can see in many of the standard houses, the wall is placed on top of the concrete foundation, sometimes so much so that there will be a concrete block all along the bottom of any wall against the exterior of the house. 
The drawback, however is that once the door is in place (where the patio frame is now in the photo), you can see by the photo of the door below that it will swing into the kitchen towards the left. The thickness of the wall means it won't ever be able to open wide and flush against the inside wall. At best it would only open at about a 90-degree (or maybe 100-degree) angle. 

There's a lot of quirky things about this house, it having past through a few owner's hands -- and their renovation designs. Some things, you just have to live with.

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