What are my options for removing posts in my basement?

Question from William O:

 We are thinking about finishing a portion of our basement. Our basement has a total of 4 steel columns down the center of it. The portion that we are considering finishing only has 1 of the 4. All 4 of these columns are along the center line of the home and are underneath what appears to be (4) 2x12 boards. My question is, what are my options for removing one and/or all of the columns in the basement?



Good question and a common question too!  Of course the answer is always, "Yes!"  We can design a structural system that spans across the entire basement but you wouldn't like the exorbitant cost... so let's get a bit more practical.  Can 1 post be removed with a reasonable cost?  can 2 be removed?  Many factors are involved: number of stories above the basement, the length of the floor joists that land on the beam, the way the joists interface with the beam, distance between remaining supports in the basement, the available headroom...  

Here are some considerations:
1. If the existing  joists rest on TOP of the existing beam (4-2x12's), removing 1 post should be a reasonable task with reasonable costs.
2. If the existing joists are supported on the SIDE of the existing beam, AND you want to keep the same headroom under the beam, removing 1 post can be a good bit more costly because the old beam would have to be removed before the new one was installed.
3. Removing 2 posts is not a huge challenge as long as they are not CONSECUTIVE posts.  Basically, you would then have 2 very simple beams.  If you want consecutive posts to disappear, the new beam would be twice as long (obviously) but would have to be four-times the strength!

We always try to stick with engineered lumber beams, but on occasion we have to resort to steel because of a long span, low headroom or heavy finishes above.  Changing to steel can add a good bit of costs not only because the material is more expensive, but because contractor's aren't as comfortable working with steel.  Making an contractor uncomfortable will cost you big $$!

As always, if you want a specific design for your home, call us or email us and we'll schedule you for a consultation.