Author Topic: Wall height on 1 1/2 story?  (Read 7948 times)

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Offline phalynx

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Wall height on 1 1/2 story?
« on: December 23, 2007, 09:10:44 PM »
We can't seem to make up our mind on our home between a 2 story and the 1 1/2 story.  On the 1 1/2 story, I was thinking about using 14' 2x6 for the side walls.  With the 14' length, it would allow for a 9' 1st floor wall height and a 4' 2nd floor wall height.  Thus giving us a little larger "feel".  Is there a point of diminishing returns or concerns about building too large on the 1 1/2 story?  Am I making the 1 1/2 story too complicated and thus the 2 story would be cheaper to build?  I am also concerned about structural strength.  If I make the walls too high, is it a problem?

Offline CWhite

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Re: Wall height on 1 1/2 story?
« Reply #1 on: December 24, 2007, 05:19:41 AM »
I was concerned about the same issues, and wound up with the 1 1/2 story plans, but changed it to having 10 foot walls downstairs, and 4 foot knee walls upstairs with a 10' wide shed roof enlarging the upstairs even further.  I'm very pleased with the space both upstairs and down. 
You can see my progress on:

http://countryplans.com/smf/index.php?topic=2991.0

Ours is a permanent residence, not just a cabin, so we needed the extra space. 
Christina

Offline williet

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Re: Wall height on 1 1/2 story?
« Reply #2 on: December 24, 2007, 07:44:48 AM »
So you used 14' studs on walls?

Offline phalynx

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Re: Wall height on 1 1/2 story?
« Reply #3 on: December 24, 2007, 08:46:52 AM »
I think he is saying that he used 10' studs below and built 4' stud wall on the 2nd floor as platform framing.  I wouldn't mind doing this myself except I am concerned that the outward pressure on the 4' walls would be greater than it would be able to withstand due to the roof.

Offline phalynx

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Re: Wall height on 1 1/2 story?
« Reply #4 on: December 24, 2007, 09:03:04 AM »
We have no code here.... I can do whatever I want..   But I want to make sure that what I do is reasonable.

Offline MountainDon

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Re: Wall height on 1 1/2 story?
« Reply #5 on: December 24, 2007, 11:51:49 AM »
We can't seem to make up our mind on our home between a 2 story and the 1 1/2 story. 
food for thought...

A full 2 story gives you much more choice in window placements. A dormer on the 1 1/2 story would help that as well. And add cost/complication.

How many rooms / what rooms are you putting upstairs? Bathroom up there?

There's going to be more lumber in a 2 story and increased cost to build, but what would you really rather have a few years down the road?

More $$ to heat/cool the larger volume in a full 2 story.

..... You also replied that you are in a no code area which is great as far as the leeway you have. Question; is the whole county code free / zoning free, or just where you are? I ask because if it's just your area then you could still inquire what would be approved/required in the county area that has code requirements. Just a thought. I have neighbors who built without permits etc in the mountains here ; but they built to code anyways.
« Last Edit: December 25, 2007, 09:59:41 AM by MtnDon »
Just because something has been done and has not failed, doesn’t mean it is good design.

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Offline phalynx

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Re: Wall height on 1 1/2 story?
« Reply #6 on: December 24, 2007, 12:03:59 PM »
I fully understand that.  The State of TX has a law that prohibits any county from enacting any zoning, or building codes.  Only the State and the cities have zoning and building codes.  I can't ask the county as they will say there is no code, been there....  The state says build to the nation building code....  But, there is not mandate where we are. 

As far as 1.5 vs 2 story... We really don't want a big house at all.  We are a family of 4 who are currently living in a large 5th wheel trailer.  330 sq ft and have for the last 6 months. We don't have a problem with it and enjoy the closeness.  Obviously, it's a little too close but we don't want a huge place.  We really like the michigan 1 1/2 story.   With it's open living area, it is amazing.  Our initial plan is a very similar floorplan.  We will have 1 bedroom and 1 small bath upstairs.  "master" and bath will be downstairs.  We are only thinking now that it wouldn't cost much to just floor the entire 2nd floor to have a little extra space for a 3rd bedroom if neccessary for when the girls just can't handle it anymore or for a schoolroom, etc... 

It's the closing off of the 2nd floor that bugs me.  A small house sure seems bigger with a tall ceiling. 

Offline ScottA

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Re: Wall height on 1 1/2 story?
« Reply #7 on: December 24, 2007, 12:36:01 PM »
For bedrooms upstairs 1 1/2 story is fine IMO. Full 2 story is going to be harder to build I think.

Code or not be sure your house is safe. If you ever want to sell it might need to meet FHA guidlines as well.

Offline williet

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Re: Wall height on 1 1/2 story?
« Reply #8 on: December 25, 2007, 06:51:33 AM »
Why couldn't you just use a 2x6x14 and balloon frame it with a ledger set in to hold the upper floor joists? Isn't that the plan for the 10 or 12 foot studs?

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Re: Wall height on 1 1/2 story?
« Reply #9 on: December 25, 2007, 07:20:44 AM »
I grew up in a 1 1/2 story with no knee walls; the upper rooms vertical walls were simply set in towards the center and the two upper rooms had sloping walls/ceiling for most of their width with a small, approx 4 foot wide flat central ceiling. Windows just on the front and rear ends. It worked fine and was no doubt simpler to construct than with 4 foot high knee walls.

Anyhow, back to the original question... how do you tie the roof/walls together building a 1 1/2 story with 4 foot knee walls, and are you complicating things by building a 4 foot knee wall?

The typical Cape Cod is built the way you describe.  It works much better with a 24' wide house than with a 20'.  IMHO less than 20' wide really needs the knee wall to get enough space with headroom.  Cape's are often built with dormers which complicates building more than the knee wall.  The roof rafters are attached to the top plates in exactly the same way, with or without the knee wall.  The differences are in attaching the floor joists (to a ledger), making sure you have adequate resistance to the outward forced of the roof rafters (collar ties), and perhaps some additional fire stopping.... All simple stuff.

Offline glenn kangiser

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Re: Wall height on 1 1/2 story?
« Reply #10 on: December 25, 2007, 08:51:12 AM »
I'd be for balloon framing to eliminate the top floor hinge point.  It would be way stronger than platform built.  Not an engineer so I don't know how much.
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Offline phalynx

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Re: Wall height on 1 1/2 story?
« Reply #11 on: December 25, 2007, 02:07:06 PM »
So you don't think that the 14' length would be an issue?  I am planning on 24" centers and 2x6's.

John_C

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Re: Wall height on 1 1/2 story?
« Reply #12 on: December 25, 2007, 08:40:56 PM »
The issue might be with the code.  I think the code only allows up to 12'.  You might need to have an engineer look it over. John's Victoria cottage has a couple of knee wall options.  Look at some of the examples in the builders gallery.   Even with 12' studs you would have a lot more room than the Cape Cod approach.

Offline glenn kangiser

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Re: Wall height on 1 1/2 story?
« Reply #13 on: December 25, 2007, 09:05:14 PM »
John should have more info on issues with this when he gets here.
"Always work from the general to the specific." J. Raabe

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Offline John Raabe

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Re: Wall height on 1 1/2 story?
« Reply #14 on: December 26, 2007, 08:16:05 PM »
You can build the loft or 2nd level floor platform framed, as you would in a 2-story layout. Then build a 4' or 5' sidewall and plan to bear the rafters on this wall. If you did a straight 2x10 or 2x12 rafter to a ridge board (which is essentially a hinge joint) then there could be some hefty sideward and downward pressures in snow and wind loading wanting to flatten the roof and push the walls outwards.

But, put in a collar tie at the ceiling height (say 7'-6" to 8') and you most likely have triangulated those rafters and reduced or eliminated the side pressure. It now acts more like a truss.

The lower the collar tie is on the rafters the stronger the triangle configuration. You can visualize that as you lower the roof pitch the outward forces on the short sidewall increase. However, with a pitch of 12:12 and a 7'-6" ceiling height I expect you would have a pretty strong configuration. Draw up a cross section to see what you think. Whatever you decide, you should have it checked by a local engineer as you may have severe wind loads that need to be considered. In many parts of the country you will find such houses were built in the 1930's and 40's with this type of rafter configuration. Many with only 2x4 or 2x6 rafters and collar ties at every other rafter pair.

The advantage of balloon framing the long stud walls all the way to the rafters is that you don't build in a hinge joint at the 2nd floor platform. (You can get finger-jointed 2x6 studs for this.)
« Last Edit: December 26, 2007, 08:29:42 PM by John Raabe »
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Offline John_M

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Re: Wall height on 1 1/2 story?
« Reply #15 on: December 28, 2007, 01:09:58 PM »
I used 12 foot studs on my 18 x 32 and I think that it left plenty of room upstairs.  Your place will be 2 feet wider as well!!  I have approximately 9 foot walls downstairs and then about 3 and 1/2 foot knee wall upstairs.  Don't forget to add 4 1/2 inches to your overall wall height to account for the bottom plate and double top plate.  They are needed when you build your wall.  I have a 11/12 roof and my ceiling height (collar ties) is 7 feet 6 inches.  I am a tall guy (6' 3") and there seems to be plenty of height for me!




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Offline John Raabe

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Re: Wall height on 1 1/2 story?
« Reply #16 on: December 31, 2007, 02:57:58 PM »
Yep, there you have about 2,000 words worth. :-*
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Offline phalynx

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Re: Wall height on 1 1/2 story?
« Reply #17 on: January 01, 2008, 02:21:37 PM »
Well, we decided on the 14' 2x6 walls 24" on center.  I have no idea how any of you who have built similar size were able to raise these wall.  We broke the 34' wall down to a 20' and a 14' length and it was still unbelievable to raise.  If we hadn't had a tractor with a front end loader, we would have never gotten them up.  Even still, the level of danger is unbelievable.  I do enjoy saving the money by building ourselves.  Someone must have a better idea to raise a wall.

Offline PEG688

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Re: Wall height on 1 1/2 story?
« Reply #18 on: January 01, 2008, 05:59:37 PM »
 

 Wall jacks , rent um if you have to.

 

 Insert 2x4 pole , place jack under slightly elevated wall plates , place / nail down  2x4 "kicker/ anti-kick out block"   , insert pipe handle and jack the wall up . One jack about ever 12feet of wall , up she goes.


  Or the real easy way ,

 

 There's more than one way to stand walls , thats for sure.
When in doubt , build it stout with something you know about .

Offline phalynx

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Re: Wall height on 1 1/2 story?
« Reply #19 on: January 02, 2008, 02:14:50 PM »
Wow,  I never would have guess they existed.  That would have been a great time saver.  I could have put the OSB on the walls and then jacked them up. 

Offline PEG688

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Re: Wall height on 1 1/2 story?
« Reply #20 on: January 02, 2008, 04:21:18 PM »

  Yoy should have asked.

  A old joke I've heard goes like this.

 Two college guys get a summer  job as laborers for  a contractor. The foremen say OK biys we have  atub on the tenth floor we need to bring down and put in the dumpster. They say < Oh no problem we got it! So they get up there and well it's heavy they struggle 1/2 the day but FINALLY they get it down to the street . But now the dumpsters almost full and the door you'd wheel barrow stuff in is of course closed . Now they REALLY have a problem , How do we hump this heavy asre tub over that side of the dumpster  ??? ??? , Finally they call the foremen over and tell him , , Well we CAN"T get it into the dumpster , we'll have to load it in the next one.

 He laughts with a lil, ok a lot of   ::)  ::), grabs a sledge hammer hits it three time busting into three or four smaller pieces!  :) And SEZ next time IF you don't know , ASK!

 I know when you don't know , how do you know WHAT to ask  d*

 But if in doubt a question on the forum will generally get a time tested idea :)

 Up you could have sheeted those walls on the deck , and saved a LOT of work.   

 Next time EH  :)   
When in doubt , build it stout with something you know about .

Offline John Raabe

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Re: Wall height on 1 1/2 story?
« Reply #21 on: January 02, 2008, 05:34:31 PM »
For those of us who only build one house, the advice of experience can be very helpful.

For book learners these resources can be valuable:
http://www.countryplans.com/books.html

(The Working Alone book is full of labor and money saving tips for the small crew builder)
None of us are as smart as all of us.