The correct method of Structural Alteration

The Beginning

This is the only place to start, an application for building regulations approval. This should be completed ideally before work commences and it makes absolute sense to meet with the building inspector to discuss what he or she expects regarding adequate shoring up and the method of structural support employed.

So if a builder offers to do a structural alteration and that there is no need to involve building control as he has done this for many years, then this should start alarm bells ringing.

During the initial meeting, the building inspector will assess  if structural loading calculations are required, occasionally, due to the circumstances of the alteration, calculations are not required.

Correct Support

Prior to removing any material teh building should be adequately supported with temporary supports whilst the alteration works are being carried out.

The supports are typically steel acrows either between timbers or a special head called a strongboy designed to support brick and blockwork. There are new methods that are on the market, we have used one to support brickwork with great success.

Special attention should be given to the base of the temporary supports.

Structural Alterations, temporary support
Structural Alteration

Padstones

If your beam is to sit within a wall then padstones are used either end of the support beam to adequately spread the load carried by the beam into the wall.

Whether the application calls for a concrete lintel, or a steel universal beam, commonly called an RSJ, then padstones will be used. A padstone can be purchased custom made, can be cut from concrete lintels, or can be poured in place with adequate shuttering.

We have never come across an inspector or structural engineer that did not use a padstone, they are absolutely required.

Steel beam and padstone
Structural supports
Steel beam and column

Foundation and columns

Should the walls not be able to take the new loadings directly, then a new foundation will be required. Typically a new column will also be required but this is not always the case.

The foundation needs to be deep enough to hit stable ground, this is totally dependant on local conditions. the size will be governed by the structural engineer’s calculations.

if the column is not free standing it will need to be fully tied in to the stone/brickwork surrounding it.

Structural Alteration column and foundation
New column