Heavy Lifting

After a day of prep and getting the temporary support walls built, I was ready to set the first of two beams. These will hold up the roof and the ceiling joists once I remove the wall currently running through the middle of the new master bedroom.

In this case, there is not much weight to support. The joists are only there to hold up insulation and drywall. The roof is no longer really “the roof.” It’s an underframe remnant from the original footprint of the house as it was built in 1956. When the master bedroom was added on, they “overframed” the new roof (this is called a California-framed roof, I guess because it’s quite common out here), so the weight is really minimal.

The engineer specified a 3-1/2-in x 9-1/4-in PSL (parallel strand lumber) These go by the trade name Parallam but PSL is the generic type of beam. You can get all kinds of useful information from the Weyerhaeuser website.


Here are the two beams that need to support the wall that is coming out. You can see the wall on the right immediately behind the Parallams. The wall on the left is a temporary wall to hold up the ceiling while I demo.

I’ve done this dance a few times and have learned some tricks: First, give yourself plenty of space. A lot of times, temp walls are so close to the area needed to work that there is no space to maneuver. I like to have 18-to 24-inches on either side of the wall, so I have a wide 3- to 4-foot work area. Second, get your beams inside the temporary walls before you build them. There is nothing worse than not being able to get the beam where it needs to go because you have built a temporary wall that is in the way. (Don’t ask me how I know this.)

Once I had everything ready, I could start the removal of the partition wall.


Even though I knew everything was supported, I am always a little nervous when I start removing load-bearing walls. I go slow and listen for creaks and moans of the building as it settles onto its new supports.


And then there were none. All the studs are out and the plates are only being held up by the toenails from the rafters and ceiling joists.

Since I am working alone most of the time, I have to improvise ways to accomplish some of these tasks. For instance: How do you set a beam by yourself? Fortunately, these PSLs aren’t that heavy. I can easily pick up one end of them at a time, so I just had to work end-to-end. A couple of 6-foot step ladders got me off the ground — literally.


The first lift…


…and the other end…

I already have the beam pocket and all the cuts for the joists and rafters made, so the beam should slip right into place. I just shouldered it up about 6 inches at a time and braced it with temporary support posts at each interval. With all the demolition, we have no shortage of lumber to cut up for this kind of improvisation. And since it’s all going into the dumpster, it makes no difference if it’s all cut up.


Almost there. Just need to do a bit of tweaking at each end, then we can add the hardware.

I only needed to make a couple minor relief cuts to alleviate binding as it slid into place. All-in-all, the process was seamless.

I finished this in the dark, so no detail photos tonight. I’m hoping to post again tomorrow with a few more thoughts on this aspect of the project.

Thanks for reading…

2 responses to “Heavy Lifting

  1. Blake – As always, excellent work and well written ! It’s very interesting
    to see how you progress thru this.
    It simply reinforces my belief that you are “the man” when it comes to well thought out and well done construction.
    It’s got to be exhausting to do all this. I get “empathy” tired for you just reading your blog.


  2. Pingback: Creative Solutions |·

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