From the ‘What were they thinking?’ department …

As I’ve said before, the blessing and the curse of gutting a building is that you find all the flaws.  Ever since I gutted the walls in the back bedroom I’ve felt suspicious about the closet.  The closets upstairs were just tacked on additions with no ulterior motives.  But this closet downstairs .. it was framed out with 4x4s and on a pedestal.  I decided to leave it until after the ceiling was out.

I’m glad I did.  When the dust settled from falling plaster and the last hazel nut rattled to a stop on the floor, this is what we saw:

From my reading on timber frame construction, I know that notching a horizontal member greatly diminishes it’s strength.  How does that translate to stick construction?  Well, the book Code Check 5th Edition says that the middle 1/3rd of floor joists may not be notched at all and the outer thirds may only be notched to 1/6th the depth of the joist and only on the top.  Yeah .. um .. how many of the rules do these notches break?

It appears that their solution to this damage was to create a ‘load bearing closet’.  Then they framed in some cross members with joist hangers to pass some of the floor load above onto this closet.  I believe at least one of those pipes is an active water line, so we’ll have to have a second bathroom functional before trying to straighten out this particular mess.

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4 Responses to From the ‘What were they thinking?’ department …

  1. Matt Hale says:

    Hey Lee and Robin,

    Love reading your edition of This Old House. Keep em comin.

    This is my favorite saying so far
    “how many of the rules (do these notches break)?”

    no pun intended right?

    Looks like “loads” of fun.

    Matt

  2. robin says:

    Thanks Matt,

    It was nice hearing from you. We just got our internet hooked back up after the big move. Hopefully everything will work out here because I am very tired of moving. Three times in five months is a little much.

    As for “loads” of fun, well, it’s been interesting. I never though I would be taking showers with a pot of water or living in a house that doesn’t have any walls.

    Robin

  3. Ann says:

    We had a shower curtain as a bathroom door for far too long, so I can sympathize with your situation!

    You have to give them extra points for creativity…a load-bearing closet sounds like something that seemed like a good idea at the time!

    • lee says:

      I’ve decided that the load-bearing closet was a hack solution to a much older problem. The house was renovated in the 80s, and the work done was a mix of decent and disaster (especially the wiring). Those water pipes were long dead, so we fixed the joist notches about 18 months ago. Most of the closet is still there. I’m still not sure why it has a raised floor.

      Ha, re-reading this post brought back some memories. I forgot about our lack of hot water for baths. Our bathroom door might not be a shower curtain, but it’s still the only door in the house.

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