Notice to all readers: I am not a structural engineer. The statements made below is based on extensive research online and not made by an engineer professional. I am an architect with some basic understanding of structural engineering. Do not make design decisions based on this post without first doing your own research and speaking with an engineer.
With that being said, let's talk about collar ties.
The above picture shows one of the "collar ties" that was original to the construction of our home. These were installed every 4 or so rafters. My original intention was to keep these and wrap them in trim but i decided to remove them. Here is why.
First off, let me clarify what collar ties are exactly. Sometimes engineers design collar ties to prevent separation of the roof at the ridge due to wind uplift. Collar ties should only be required when there are no ceiling joists or structural ridge beam to serve the function. When collar ties are properly designed to resist wind uplift, the engineer usually will specify through bolts and spike grids anchored to the roof rafters. The hardware is required in order to properly connect the collar tie to the rafter; a few nails, as was the case in our house, won't do the job. Plus the "collar ties" were 2x4's. In order for it to be substantial to function as a true collar tie it would need to be a much larger member.
Most of the codebooks and construction textbooks today dont require collar ties or show them in details anymore. However, building codes do require that the rafters themselves 1.) need to be properly sized to accommodate roof load requirements and 2.) that the ceiling joists be fastened at lap joints to resist outward thrust from the weight of the roof.
If the design of roof framing does not allow for the roof rafters to be connected to ceiling joists, then collar ties and/or rafter ties would be required to resist the forces caused by gravity loads that otherwise cause the roof to pancake and push the exterior walls outwards. Rafter ties are required by code, unless the engineer designed the house so that there is a ridge beam that carries the load of the roof.
The sketch above shows the condition of our house. Typically, older homes had 2x8 or 2x6 roof rafters spaced 12"-24" o.c. Most newer homes nowadays have pre-manufactured roof trusses that don't allow for a vaulted ceiling.
The ceiling joists that run between the exterior walls alongside each rafter are being utilized to resist tension from the vertical forces, not collar ties. They are much better at resisting thrust provided they are fastened to the rafters as well as to the top plates of the exterior walls.
There should not be collar ties between rafters above the ceiling joists.... period!
The blue circles show the important connections between rafters and ceiling joists. The existing rafters were only being anchored to each other with long nails. I decided to buy 3" x 9" simpson gusset plates to nail to each rafter ridge connection. I used about 12 simpson nails at each pair of rafters. This was a small investment I decided to make for added strength / security. Ultimately, I don't know if this was actually required but it gave me piece of mind. You can also make the gusset plates out of plywood.
In addition, I fastened the rafters to top plates with additional nails. Any ceiling joists that were sistered together received additional nails and blocking. Again... piece of mind.
There's also the question about the actual weight of the roof from snow/wind/etc. causing the roof to sag. I've given this a lot of thought, but then I realized that our roof has been this way for 120 years. In addition, we were adding intermediate walls in the design that would be fastened to the rafters.
The next step was to insulate the roof... Stay tuned!
The process for designing our 3rd floor took a very long time. Mostly because my wife and I are both architects with strong design opinions. Our compromise for certain design elements is usually to go with the most expensive option. Needless to say this was a very costly renovation with no corners cut for materials and fixtures. With that being said, we decided to compromise by doing all. of. the. work. ourselves. It took about 9 months to complete.... but well worth it in the end.
The inspiration for the 3rd floor bathroom and master suite was to focus on contrasting, modern and well-built fixtures and hardware that would pop out against neutral natural materials. We knew we wanted the following:
-vault the ceiling to open the space. Big debate about whether or not we needed collar ties, a ridge beam, and what material the ceiling finish should be
-reroute and reframe the stairs to open the space up
-bathroom fixtures.... black or brass. no brushed nickel or chrome please and thank you! also no plastic parts
-built in warbrobe extended floor to ceiling. no soffits. no wasted space. need to figure out material, are these custom built, etc.
-tile floor to ceiling in the bathroom. no large format tile. no 12x24.... please.
-a huge shower with a linear drain and a prefab kerdi slope.
-a huge slim profile waterfall shower head. the biggest shower head on the market.
-custom linen cabinets. no melamine or MDF.
-insulated and rated ceiling
-heated bathroom floors
-built in book cabinets
-floating vanity with either soapstone or marble top
To name a few. Below are a few images we took inspiration from in the beginning.
Love the black shower hardware and the tub filler.
love the toilet, shower glass, shower fixtures, wall tile, mirror, pretty much everything...
love the tile... both the floor tile and wall tile
love the ledge near the tub
love everything is this photo
not sure why i chose this picture but i love the linens. is that parachute?
in this photo i was trying to see how people were exposed the collar ties.
the brushed nickel really kills this shower.
Maggie, at this point, did not know what she was getting into..... this is one of the first days of demo... and we are discussing everything that needs to be demo'd (which is everything)...
This is a photo of inside our closet after everything was cleared out. When we first bought our house we had the contractor run new shafts to the third floor--shown here--which we ended up completely re-routing for the third floor renovation. One of the temporary projects in this house was to install a partition wall with an access door into a separate space from our "closet"..... yeah, time to demo it all....
Our previous insulation in our ceiling / roof....... broad loom carpet scrap!!
Yes..... i saved every piece of bat insulation.... and trust me.... there was a lot of it!
Bathroom demo.... can wait to remove this raised floor. Why is it raised?? bout to find out.
Maggie demoing the shitty tile in the old bathroom....
The bathroom walls are gone.... and being stored in my garage....
This was a fun evening after work: stripping bat insulation from the roof rafters of the attic. Word of advice: wear a long sleeve shirt and gloves. Don't handle baby's afterwards.
Bathroom demo almost complete. Still have to remove the carpet, floor boards and collar tie.
Here we are dismantling the old stair. I built this railing with blocking that allowed me to remove the railing balusters separately from the rails... this allowed me to move material and furniture easily up and down the stairs. Ultimately, this was all removed...
I would say this is my final demo photo before the new construction started. All that was left was to remove the rest of the framing for the ceiling.... and make the one million trips downstairs hauling lumber and trash into the garage.. We didnt rent a dumpster for this project.... so we spent the next 6 months or so taking 10 plus contractor bags of trash to the curb... which we stored in a full garage in the meantime. We saved every piece of insulation and framing for this project. We de-nailed every stud and re-used it for the new walls---crazy but saved us a lot of money in the end!
Design services for a friend in Raleigh who reached out to me looking for design options for a modern living room / kitchen addition to their home.
In May 2017 we decided to begin the renovation of the third floor of our Lakewood home. It had been a goal of ours when we bought our home in July 2013. In fact, the third floor was a big reason why we fell in love with our home. We saw huge potential in it after walking through it for the first time. Here are some before photos:
This project started last year when we decided that the layout of our living room was not functional and did not go well with the furniture arrangement we had in mind. We had a niche in the living room that im guessing was historically a closet. It was about a 4' x 5' space--about the size of a closet--that carved a little space out of the room. Initially we had many ideas for what this small space could be... a fireplace? a bookshelf nook? built in seating? But after much thought we decided to settle with none of the above... and to make it a flat wall... esentially a TV wall. And so thats what i did. I built out a 2x4 studded wall and drywalled over top to allow for a more simple floorplan for our living room. and for a little while... about a year.. we had a 4' x 5' dead space in between our office room and our living room.
Until this year... when I finally decided to tackle this dead space closet project. Here is the before photo:
Not really showing much here... but a blank wall right? Well stay tuned...
This is my office. and the closet on the left is a coat closet. Right behind the middle section of this blank wall is the "dead space" with the living room on the other side. The idea was to open the space into the office and create a closet that also functioned as a desk area with a desktop and shelving above. Let the demolition begin!
As you can see I had to remove some original studs and use a sawzall to tear away at the plaster and lathe in order to access the space. I tried to be careful and accurate with my demolition zone in order to minimize waste and extra repair work.
I used poplar wood for the trim of the cloffice. I had a difficult time matching the profiles of the original trim--especially with the header and trimwork above the door opening. I found that my local lumber store, Cleveland Lumber Company, had the best selection of wood to choose from and was the best option for me for this project. By the war, the black tube and cord you see in this photo is for the TV in the living room. It allows for a place for the cords and cables from the TV to go and connects to outlets below--it was a great find!
For this project i tried to salvage as much trim and material as I could. If I dont re-use it for this project, I know down the road I will probably re-use it for later projects.
For the desktop material we decided to use bowling alley wood. Butcher block is a material they would have used in our 1903 home and we wanted to remain true to the time period. I ended up finding salvaged bowling alley wood on craigslist. Here is a photo of me picking up the wood from the guys barn--very cool!
There was a lot of dirt and grime on the bowling alley wood that I had to use a planar to get off. I think the wood had been sitting in a barn for nearly 20 years! The planar was able to get through most of the layers of grime and I finished with several passes with my orbital sander. Finally, I coated in an oil based polyurethane and I think I did two coats.
I decided to use left over bead board from my front porch to use as the back wall for the cloffice. I painted it white and used a nail gun to mount it to the studs. I also found a drawing with the sliders attached online that i mounted to the underside of the bowling alley wood. I also added a grommet for cord access.
I found a 24" door from a local antique shop that matched the original panel doors in our house. I also found antique art nouveau hardware and copper hinges. The last thing I want to do is put up some modern bronze home depot door knob.
And here's the complete project once the finishing touches are added!
This past year I've taken on a number of interesting home projects. I’ve gotten to the point in my home renovation where the entire main floor is mostly complete… and so I’ve been able to work on other things like furniture and fixtures. One of my favorite projects thus far has been the construction of our dining room table. It took a rather long time (a few months) because I spent a lot of time looking for wood and a steel fabricator, but once that was selected the process was not that bad. First off, here was the initial design concept, which I modeled in sketchup:
I wanted to create an industrial piece, using C-channel steel and simple connections. The steel was custom made from a company called Blue Ridge Metal works, who conveniently sells and markets their products on etsy. The fabricator, Jon, was extremely easy to work with and was able to build the table legs based on the sketchup model and sketch I put together. Here is the sketch I sent him:
The wood was purchased from a Cleveland-based small business called Razing Cleveland. They specialize in deconstruction, and occasionally have their products available for sale in their warehouse. They had an open house one day, so I figured I’d go check them out. I met the owners, Holly and Ray, who were very supportive of my efforts to use reclaimed wood (instead of new wood) and gave me a great deal on some wood boards that were previously used for framing a Cleveland home in the late 1800’s. The wood was a mix of maple, oak and cedar. My intention was to keep the dark worn surface and to do minimal sanding in order to keep the character and look of the wood.
Before going to razing Cleveland, I explored different wood suppliers and types of wood. I didn’t always want to use reclaimed wood. At first, I looked at using maple and/or some type of exotic wood. I found a few local suppliers who were willing to work with me. But the process would have taken a little longer in order to dry the wood—approx. 6-10 weeks—and the price was a little more than I was looking for—about $4-6 a board foot. If you are looking for a more finished look, I would recommend going this route. I also looked at butcher block, but that was quoted at being approx.. $2100 for everything—so I crossed that off the list very quickly!
So when I finally settled on the wood I began mapping out the cuts. First, I cut the wood slightly larger than the final length—76” instead of the final 72”. Then I laid out the boards on saw horses according to how I wanted it to appear as a finished product. When the wood was laid out I noticed that most of the boards varied in depth—which was a problem. So to account for the slight difference in size I planed the underside of the wood until all of the boards were about 2” in depth.
Once all of the boards were the same depth I used a biscuit joiner to join the boards together. I cut out notches in the side of the boards every 6” and used wood glue and clamped the boards together 2 at a time. This process took a rather long time because I only had 4 clamps and had to wait 1-2 days for the boards to dry before I moved on to the new boards.
Once all of the boards were joined and dry I made one final cut on each end with a circular saw and did some light sanding with fine grit sand paper until the surface was very smooth. Again, I didn’t want to go too crazy with the sanding because I wanted to maintain the worn, dark look of the wood.
Once the sanding was complete I used a product called Swilleys All-Natural Wood Rub to enhance the beautiful wood grains and add an element of protection against liquids and other food. Once that was complete, I worked on the steel.
The steel legs were shipped to my house without any sort of protection or coating on them, so to preserve the beauty of the raw steel I used a product called Penetrol. It can be used alone as a base coat on bare metal and will fix the rust while preserving the appearance. After I applied several coats, I used a clear polyurethane top coat for added protection and a smooth finish. These two products working together makes the steel look completely natural. It is almost a year later, and I am still satisfied with the results. This table is quite heavy, but I know it will last a long time and is definitely worth all of the work!
When we bought our duplex in Lakewood, we knew one of the most significant projects was the reconstruction of our front porch. We hired a contractor to complete most of the work (as required by our renovation loan). As you can see from the first several photos, there was quite some damage to the roof of our front porch. Moisture had penetrated the shingles and cause the wood to rot and mold. It was hazardous and needed to be completely rebuilt. The idea was to replicate the original design intent for this 1903 colonial home. We couldn't find the original drawings or any photos of the original construction, but based on our knowledge and on other similar homes in the area, we came up with this design. See the construction process below.
Here is a close-up of the most extreme water-damaged area on our front porch. It is obvious that this could not be repaired and needed to be re-built.
On the first day, the top level was demolished--including the addition that was built on later. The exterior wall was then framed in and water-proofed with Tyvek.
Let the framing begin! We made sure to add in additional perpendicular joists for added support and for mounting the bead board ceiling.
By the third day the porch was completely demolished except for the floor of the first floor and the first floor columns. The columns were braced in place and the floor that was left was patched (it needed some love!). The intent for the columns was to scrape and sand then paint when the work is complete.
Here is a good tip: make sure to stain and poly bead board before you install it. Also make sure to poly the back side of the bead board to prolong the life of your ceiling. This will keep you from doing some back-breaking work if you try to finish the wood after it's installed. Here's a photo of my garage while we were in the process of staining the wood:
Here's a photo of the porch once the bead board is installed, the siding is complete, and the lights are in. Notice the added exterior outlet and the new window and columns!
Here is the final (almost complete) product:
The before and after shot speaks 1000 words!
As mentioned in the previous post, the majority of the renovation work on our new duplex in Lakewood involved rebuilding the front porch. That meant removing the second floor roof, ceiling, and floor; included the addition that was poorly added to the home (never do that!). We wanted to maintain the look and feel of a historical Lakewood Colonial while using new materials. We new that we could not replicate the wood columns that were original to the home so we had to use fiberglass columns. We also specified a bead board ceiling and a new vinyl window on the second floor (see above). Maggie (my fiance) worked on the drawing above while I helped with the design. These are the documents we submitted to the contractor and to the city for approval. Maintaining the original integrity of this beautiful Lakewood home was our intent from the very beginning and we wanted to make sure the design was in line with the historical character of the home.
When we moved into our house several years ago, we had a laundry list of renovation projects that kept us busy. One of the most exciting projects was constructing a built-in pantry for our kitchen. Our new kitchen is much bigger than our prior kitchen, but it lacked some vital storage space. We wanted a pantry to store our dry goods, spices, cereal, etc. Luckily, our kitchen was adjacent to our guest bathroom; which had a decent amount of unused space that we could use for the kitchen. Here are some before photos of the spaces I am talking about:
So this is our kitchen (above) and here is our bathroom, which is adjacent to the space:
First step was to demo mark with a score line using a utility knife the area of drywall we wanted to demo. Then i used a small pry bar and hammer to peel away the layer of drywall on each side of the room. For the floor, we wanted to keep the existing tile. The best way to selectively remove tile floor is to use a utility knife. First score the grout lines between the tile you are going to remove. Then use a pry bar and a hammer to pop up the tile. More than likely the mortar unerneath the tile will come up as well and there will be some subfloor repairs that you will need to address. Luckily for us, as you can see in the photo above, the subfloor was mostly intact when we removed the tile. The next step, which i didnt document, was to install an elbow for the floor register so we could install a vent on the face of the new wall.
Next I framed in the opening by removing the existing studs and placing new studs in between the existing layers of drywall. Then I made some subfloor repairs and installed the bottom plates for the new stud walls.
Next I used straight 2x4's to frame out the wall for the pantry and storage niche in the bathroom.
Because I was going to keep the existing ceiling, I was strategic about the demo to the ceiling by using a utility knife and framing the wall piece by piece (bottom plate first, then top plate, then studs in between) rather than building the wall complete like is typically done. This way i avoid unnecessary demo in the ceiling that is usually required in order to squeeze the new wall in.
Here is the finished product in the bathroom. I built some containers out of old pallets. I installed aluminum angles to hold stained pine shelves. Since this photo we have replaced the crappy vinyl wall base with poplar 1x6 and molding to match the original. Im planning on replacing the pallet wood with something more long term... but for now, it works.
The finished product. We used a pantry from IKEA and sized the opening to fit.
Brandon E. Young