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I have been doing a little bit of research on here as I was going to be doing some work downstairs this year and have hit a Massive snag….When we first bought the house in 2007 we left the keys with a builder and were abroad whilst the works were carried out.
I had asked for the back door casing be removed and a internal door fitted as external door was now going to be in outhouse/utility room that he was converting.
After doing this reading today I have had the detector out and believe the builder has in fact removed the 2 steel beams that run down from the back door…and now don’t know what to do! this has been like this for 10 years.
After closely examining the wall I have noticed a crack from the top right hand corner of the door up to the ceiling, but dont know if I am now overthinking things, looking at the photo on here of the steel frame it looks like the main support beam is right at the top of the stairs and needs these supports, anyone got any ideas where I go from here and where I would stand legally.
I feel a huge bill coming and any work I was planning is going to be completely taking a back seat financially.
Thanks in advance.
Alison

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Hi Alison, apologies for the delay in replying to your question and others posted previously but I’ve had an accident with my beloved computer and have been unable to get online.
I’m currently using an old laptop that has been kindly donated to me.

I understand your situation but for the life of me, I don’t understand why your builder would have gone to such extreme measures to install a new door frame, unless of course, he ordered a frame that was wider than the existing one, and rather than exchanging it for the correct size, he thought it would be easier to cut away the offending steel stanchions to accomodate the wider frame.
The obvious question here is, are you not able to contact the builder at this stage and ask him directly if he has removed the steels?

As you probably know from previous posts on our website, vertical stanchions run alongside each and every opening of the house, be they door or windows.
These provide the main support structure for the entire building.

I can fully appreciate your initial concerns as ordinarily we strongly advise against removing any of the supports, without installing a suitable structual steel support in place or the section that was removed.

If the steels have indeed been removed, it is difficult to state whether this will have an impact upon the overall structural condition of the house.
I have seen very rare cases where corrosion has eaten through the last foot or so of several gable wall stanchions, effectively offering no structural support, yet the house itself has remained stable.

Also, if your builder has cut away a steel support, he would have most likely have only cut away one of the legs as there woul be no reson to cut away both on each side of the existing door frame opening.

May I first suggest using your metal stud-finder along eack side of the existing door frame to check and remember that the steels would probably be located just under the architrave surrounding the door.
Then I would also check around your landing window to ensure that the detector is powerful enough to pick up the steels but also rember that due to the architrave downstairs, the steels will be deeper inside the wall than upstairs. In fact, I would also follow the stanchion line beside the landing window down to the floor as you don’t want to detect the metal casement of the existing window, if you understand what I’m saying.

You will most probably find, that even if only one stanchion leg has been removed, your house may well be adequately supported but only a structural engineer with a broad knowledge of BISF Houses would be able to confirm this.

That leads us on to the cracking. It is my guess that the cracks have appeared on or close to a drywall joint that may not have been taped at the joint, causing the crack to appear. Drywall tape is always applied where two edges meet, onto which the wet plaster is applied. This is designed to prevent cracking.
The crack above your door appears to follow this line exactly but the only way to determine if this is the case, would be to remove a small portion of the surface plaster and see if there is any tape visible underneath.
The tape should look similar to the image below but obiously, if you do this, the area will need to be patched up again afterwards.

Drywall that has been tightly fitted against the new door frame could also crack due to expansion and contraction of the timber frame, even if the joint has been taped.

Obviously, best practice would suggest that this issue needs to be investigated further to establish if one or both stanchions have indeed been removed.
If they have, it would be wise to install a suitable steel support that is suitably load bearing. A steel fabricator can do this for you and it doesn’t have to be expensive. The stanchions themselves are not as thick as you might think.
However, if you do go down this route, the new steel must be bolted onto the current frame and NOT welded. Due to the construction of the house and the free flowing air that passes inside the cavities, fire of any sort including blowtorches or welding equipment should never ever be used. A naked flame can easily ignite the insulation and the free flow of air enables the flame to spread very quickly inside all cavities and up into the roof.
So please ensure this does not happen.
Likwise, angle grinders should never be used on the frame whilst insulation remains inside the cavities.

The cost of this shouldn’t be too high if you use a steel fabricator but it’s still likely to cause disruption as the area will need to be re boarded and plastered after the repairs have taken place.

Before you go down this route though, I would suggest possibly hiring a much stronger metal detector to get an accurate idea of what has been removed. It could save you a lot of worry.

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