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How can I remove a column from my basement?

Answered by Jeffrey Anderson ~ February 24, 2015 ~ No Comments » | Respond to this question

I have a structural beam in my basement that has a 15 foot span with a lally column at seven feet. The beam is three 2x8s pocketed into the foundation on both sides. There are no walls or beams above this beam. How can I remove it?

-Anthony

Jeffrey Anderson

Anthony, I totally understand your dilemma as a lally column in the middle of a room can sometimes drastically affect how you are able to use the space. However, there is almost always a very good reason why a column is installed and most of the time there isn't a lot of flexibility in its location. When an architect or draftsperson designs a home, they use engineering formulas to determine loads that must be carried down to the foundation. Even though there may be no walls or beams above the column, it is still helping to carry the weight of the floor above it as the floor joist span has been determined to be too far without a structural beam being added to help. Most basement lally columns have a pier underneath the concrete slab that acts as a footing, just as that that supports the perimeter foundation.

However, when designing the basement structural components of a home, the architect also takes economic factors into consideration rather than a future finished basement. That means there could be other methods for supporting the floor load, but they might have been more costly to implement. For that reason, my recommendation would be to hire an architect or engineer to inspect your basement. They may be able to come up with some alternatives to the column without compromising the structural integrity of your home. It may be possible to install other columns that could be easier to integrate into your finished basement design that would allow the offending column to be removed. Other possibilities might be to beef up the beam or add floor joists between those that exist.

But one consideration to keep in mind is that if something can be done to remove the column in question, it is almost sure to be somewhat costly. Adding columns would require cutting the basement slab, excavating down, and then pouring concrete piers. In all likelihood this would be a very labor intensive endeavor. Installing additional floor joists could also be very difficult.

The first step though, would be to find out your options and that would involve bringing an architect or engineer in to look at the situation. They may also be able to give you some approximate costs for each option, but if not, get estimates from a few building contractors to help you decide whether you can live with the existing column or not. My guess is that when all is said and done, that column will seem okay where it is right now.

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