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Steel Frame for Addition?

by LiveModern Webmaster last modified Jul 25, 2006 02:49 AM
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Steel Frame for Addition?

Posted by Christopher Saunders at July 25. 2006

Have been reading the board for almost a year now and have learned alot. Would be grateful if you'd take the time to read the following (long) post and offer comments.


Will be taking some sort of action to improve our family's living space during the next 12 to 18 months. Here's a little background on our constraints:

My wife and I both have moderately demanding work lives and we are raising 4-year old triplets. We own two houses in an early 1960's subdivision just outside the gate of the Johnson Space Center where my wife works. I work downtown in Houston. The house we intend to renovate and live in is ~2100 sq ft on a single floor. It was built in 1964. Architecturally, the house is neither here nor there. A mid 60's 1-story ranch with both MCM and traditional elements.

Our plan:
My wife very much likes the front of the house. We intend to leave it as is. The current floorplan has bedrooms running from front to back on either side. In the middle there are a series of public rooms that take up a 30'x 30' space. The house backs up onto a recently retired 190 acre golf course which is being converted by the water authority to a park with a series of flood detainment ponds (intended to provide a 12-36hr buffer when rains exceed storm drain capacity). Construction is woodframe with brick cladding and composition roof (pitch is neither steep nor flat)

We plan to remove a series of interior walls to open up the 30'x30' space in the middle of the house. Because we'll be removing some load bearing walls, we're planning to add a steel truss system and new flat (1/2:12 pitch) roof on the back half of the house (30'x60'). 15'x15' two story additions will be added to enlarge the back bedrooms and provide greater window space. We will be tearing down the rear wall and roof of the existing house and rebuilding on a slightly larger footprint (+450 sq ft)

The rough drawing I've done shows we'll enlarge the living space by something like 1,200 feet (800 sq.ft. on the new second floor at the back half of the house)

We've done a modest amount of renovation on our existing house using IKEA cabinets and finding our own plumbing, electrical, HVAC and tile/stone subs. We feel reasonably competent we can handle that kind of work on a larger scale. The structural work is the part that's a little scary.

Here are my questions:

1. Are there any serious economic or technical barriers to integrating a steel frame skeleton structure to the back of the house while leaving the wood frame structure intact on the front? I'm assuming the removal of the back section of roof will be tricky and we'll need to plan a system to keep the front roof well supported throughout the process. Recomendations on engineered steel supplier (Rhino, Excalibur, American Steel Frame Services or others?)

2. We'd like to use the large flat top roof overlooking the golf course as a deck. What kind of roofing material would make sense? Any other design considerations we should be thinking about?

3. I'd like to open up the back of the house with lots of windows (that will be well shaded by a large overhang). Getting a pair of Nanawall ( or similiar) openings would be great, but I need to keep a handle on costs. Are there commercial window systems that might be more cost effective for floor to ceiling windows in a 30' wide by 22' high area.

4. Would like to construct a large stone fireplace with fireboxes inside and outside the main 30'x30' ft room. What are the most cost effective options for this? I'm assuming stone cladding over something that is tied into the steel skeleton (concrete, cinder block,??)

5. Would like to incorporate a solar panel if its close to making economic sense? Any recos for Houston, TX? I know CA power companies offer rebates, haven't found anything in TX.

6. Our inclination is to take this project on and act as the general contractor because A) we haven't found a contractor that we felt could do the kind of project we're talking about B) we'd be asking a contractor to go out of his comfort zone and consequently looking at a higher mark-up (maybe 30%); might also be forced to make some design compromises to accomodate the contractors skill set and experience.

Any advise from homeowners who've gone through this kind of project as the GC?

Thanks again for all your help.

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