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Can I safely move a support post?

Answered by Jeffrey Anderson ~ July 10, 2015 ~ No Comments » | Respond to this question

I bought a house with an unfinished basement and there's a support post right in the middle of the I-beam. To properly frame out the room, is it possible to move it three feet off center and not have it cause any issues structurally? It's a two-story home.

-Denis

Jeffrey Anderson

Denis, support posts are located within a house by architects or engineers to carry a load down to the foundation. In your situation, that load could be transferred down two floors before hitting that support column in your basement. In the living areas, the architect normally does their best to incorporate weight bearing structural members into the design of the home - they may be located inside an interior partition or within a sheetrocked column at the end of a kitchen breakfast bar. However, there are so many options when finishing a basement that has been left for the homeowner to complete as they desire, that it's almost impossible for the columns be placed to suit everyone. Even when there is an I-beam running across the basement to catch the load coming down from above, the support column is where it is for a reason.

A support column should only be moved if an architect or engineer looks at the situation and provides a design for the project. And fair warning, even if it can be moved, it's usually not very easy. That column continues through the basement slab and rests on a concrete pier, much the same as the footing around the perimeter of the house. To relocate the column is probably going to involve cutting the slab and pouring a pier in the new location. It can definitely be done, if you get permission to move the column, but it's a dirty job that can be very labor intensive. However, the first step is finding out if moving it is even feasible. Another reason for getting an architect or engineer involved is that when you get your building permit to finish the basement, the person who reviews the plans or inspects the project is more than likely going to want to see a diagram with an official seal outlining how and where the column could be moved.

If you haven't already come to this conclusion, trying to incorporate the support column in its present location into your finished basement design might be the easiest and least costly solution.

Good luck!

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