Construction Day 1
VIB Chronicles

Construction Day 1

Wheeeee – it has started. We handed over a whole lotta monies, keys, took a deep breath and prepared to trust the professionals. The builder agreed to take pictures of Day 1 for us – so here it is in all its glory, i.e. new floor joists and leveled sub-floor:

To start off the day – nice and airy. It appears that our joists were not even in as good of a shape as we imagined, so all had to go (we did save them because the wood would definitely work as island butcher block)

here are all the new joists:

nice and level – apparently this is the hardest part of installing a new floor in an old house.

and to round off the day:

Now all of this appears nice and stuff, but guess what, Sergey was not at all pleased.He tends to ask the tough questions in this process, and so he wanted to know why the new joists were thinner and did not go into the existing slats as deep as the old school joists.

Its actually a rather emotional thing to think that someone you trust with your house isn’t doing the best job. After some consultation with his dad (he is an engineer), Sergey brought it up with our contractor that evening.

But after all first day was declared a success the next morning, after an explanation that a) joists are thinner because that is a modern standard used today, and that to the wood itself is treated with super protective stuff (or that’s what it sounds like in my head) and that b) the space was left there because the wood should not be flush against old, porous brick which allows for moisture to get in, and that air should be able to circulate freely. Finally it should not be a problem structurally because of all the weight of plywood/tile and subsequently kitchen cabinets that will be placed on top of the joists.



  • Congratulations! Days like that always make you feel like you’ve turned a corner from nothing but mess to actual real construction. I know the feeling! 

  • Alsatian Felix

    Well sorta. The new framing might be fine, but it all comes down to how big it is, how many there are, and if they have enough bearing underneath them at the wall. Are they 2x10s or 2x8s? Look up their design values and you can calculate if the framing is sufficient. If you got building permits the DC structural reviewer would do this for you. They didn’t start defining design values universally for southern pine until the 1920s. Sizes were all over the map before then, usually over-engineered. Once they started valuing structural characteristics of southern pine, load calculations became more uniform and framing material was used more efficiently (got smaller).

    But the reason he gave why they don’t fit the pockets is silly. It has nothing to do with ventilation. It’s a fire code thing. Joists should NOT have square ends that fit snugly into square pockets. If they did, and there was a fire that burnt out the center of the floor, and the floor collapsed at the middle, the center of the joist would fall down and the unburnt ends of the joists would lift up. That motion, if the connection between joist and wall pocket is too snug will tip the wall inwards and collapse the wall along with the floors. You avoid that by cutting relief angles at the ends of the joists such that the bottom of the joist is longer and the top of the joist is shorter, like a really long trapezoid. That way if a fire collapses the center of the floor and the joist ends tip up, they pass by the brick pocket leaving the wall intact. Instead of cutting relief angles you can just cut the joists short enough that they won’t tip the wall during a collapse, but then you risk not having enough baring under the joist. The relief angles provide more baring.

  • Alsatian Felix

    Picture’s worth a thousand words:

  • victorianinbloom

    whiteknuckled – yes, amazing the joys one finds in construction )

    alsatian felix – thank you!very insightful on reasoning for leaving air pockets around the joists. i may also be missing some of the conversation/explanation with our builder since i am only relating what sergey told me :)
    as for the framing, do you mean the joists framing, or the framing/build out of the walls that will be on top of the first floor?

  • Alsatian Felix

    VB: framing is framing, whether it’s joists (floors/ceilings), studs (walls), or rafters (roof). I was mostly talking about your new kitchen floor framing.