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Hi all,

I’m renovating downstairs and we would like to open up downstairs by widening the doorway between the living room and dining area. This would require our builders to move one of the vertical iron frames closer to the middle of the house. They will also be removing the two iron parts that create the chimney column where the old gas back boiler used to be.

Does anyone have any experience with moving these parts of the iron frame around? Any experiences that may help make our decision would be much appreciated.

Regards,
John

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Hi Marc, very interesting! Are you sure though that this is what they’ve done? The ‘pillar’ against the party wall doesn’t look big enough to me to, but it’s hard to tell from the photo.

I say this because it seems that a BISF house is built with a certain safety margin (as any building should be) so it’s possible that they have just taken the stanchion out and by the calculations of a structural engineer or pure luck have got away with it. After all, we’ve seen a house here that has had a corner stanchion rusted right through at ground level without failing, but obviously that’s not an ideal situation.

Basically, what I’m saying is just because someone has done it (if they have) it doesn’t necessarily mean it’s safe!

Ed

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Hi Marc, very interesting! Are you sure though that this is what they’ve done? The ‘pillar’ against the party wall doesn’t look big enough to me to, but it’s hard to tell from the photo.

I say this because it seems that a BISF house is built with a certain safety margin (as any building should be) so it’s possible that they have just taken the stanchion out and by the calculations of a structural engineer or pure luck have got away with it. After all, we’ve seen a house here that has had a corner stanchion rusted right through at ground level without failing, but obviously that’s not an ideal situation.

Basically, what I’m saying is just because someone has done it (if they have) it doesn’t necessarily mean it’s safe!

Ed

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John
I have found some images of a BISF House that has had the interior stanchions replaced.

The property was recently marketed by Connells estate agents and is located in Bramshaw Gardens Harrow.

It appears that at least one of the central stanchions has been replaced by an RSJ girder. It would appear that a brick supporting column may have been built on the party wall side of the room to support the beam.

I would again stress that this type of conversion is not for the faint hearted and does carry a number of risks but these images do at least show that it can be done.

Marc

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Marc has a very good point about the possibility of damaging the neighbouring house if anything goes wrong. As you can see from the photo of the frame, the two houses are structurally one unit. The party wall was built after the steel frame and only functions to provide a fire, sound and security barrier between the two houses, not to take any structural load.

It may be a bit difficult to interpret the photo unless you know what you’re looking for. Basically the first floor has beams that run from the front of the house to the back. The span of about 7m is too great for steels of that size without intermediate support. This is provided by another beam that runs through the centre of the house in the top of the hall/kitchen, living room/kitchen and living room/dining room wall. It continues straight through the party wall (not yet built in the photo) and through the neighbouring house. This in turn is supported by a vertical steel stanchion in the hall/kitchen/living room corner, another in the living room/dining room wall and a third up against the party wall (I suspect that only one house in the pair has this third stanchion, rather than having two back to back on either side of the party wall).

The stanchion in the living room/dining room wall isn’t right up against the door opening, and the beam at the top is higher than the top of the opening so you can make the opening a bit larger if you like. Where people have removed the whole wall though they have always left the stanchion as a free standing pillar roughly in the middle of the opening. It is pretty small, about 60×50 mm in cross section.

Ed

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Hello John
I would strongly advise that you do not move any of the interior stanchions.

You must consider that the entire central weight of the house is bearing down on those two stanchions and removal for relocation is a very risky process indeed. Ad to this the fact that a modern RSJ is much wider than the existing steel framework and unlike a traditional house, it cannot be embedded into the facing wall as there is also a steel stanchion / wall plate embedded into the party wall under the existing door frame between the living room and dining room. Therefore you would not be able to anchor the RSJ in a suitable manner unless you built a supporting brick stack / post.

I would also ask if your builders have previous experience of working with a BISF house and its steel frame? I can understand a general builder saying we can simply put an RSJ in there but please remember that this is not a standard house we are dealing with and if this goes wrong, you could cause severe damage to both your house and your neighbours.

Please feel free to share your thoughts and those of your builders which may aid other members considering a similar undertaking.

I have also posted an image of the steel frame showing the inner stanchions which you may find useful.

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Hi John and welcome. You can safely remove the steel framework around the flue, and the slue itself as these are not load bearing. There is a member post about it here: http://bisfhouse.com/removal-of-bisf-house-cast-iron-flue-tube-by-doug/

The other steel stanchion you mention supports the first floor and you definitely do not want to remove/move it without the advice of a structural steel engineer unless you want to risk the first floor sagging in the middle! In theory you could move it if you strengthened the RSJ that runs through the middle of the house in the top of the hall/kitchen, living room/kitchen, living room/dining room wall. I have never heard of this being done, and doubt it would be practical.

Ed

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