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Question DetailsAsked on 4/5/2018

Can I remove a base cement support beam from a car garage built in 1955?

I am attempting to purchase a house built in 1955 and it has a garage built with what appears to be cement on all sides. There is what looks like a cement base at the bottom of the garage that prevents me from fully opening my door and it makes for a pretty tight fit. I would like to see if it can be removed to make parking easier.

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4 Answers


Not clear what you are talking about specifically, but generally a concrete column or base supporting a column or post (including the one between two garage doors or under an interior beam spanning the garage) cannot be "eliminated" - though with some work can be replaced with something less intrusive in pretty much all cases - just a matter of $ depending on how difficult the job is. Generally requires temporary support of the overhead framing while the work is being done, so rarely less than $500, and commonly closer to the $1000 ballpark range.

If you mean about a 6-10"wide concrete strip across the entrance of the garage, between the drive and the garage slab and right under the beam over the sliding or rollup doors, that is the top of the buried part of the foundation - which may go down as little as a foot or two in areas without frost penetration, generally more like 3-4 feet in areas with true winters or with soft/low strength natural soils. Here is what it typically look like before backfilling -

In some cases, especially if the foundation goes down a ways, that can be lowered an inch or two to get it down to the garage slab level (which it was probably level with before slab settlement) without too much trouble - leaving it untouched under any ceneter support columns. But you are not talking a couple hundred - more like the $500 ot so range for a stndard 16' door opening - either by jackhammering and then resurfacing with a top coat of patch concrete, or by diamond grinding if only taking a small fraction of an inch off.

OK - rereading the question and my answer, it may be I was way off - if you mean like a ledge around the inside of the foundation running all the way around, that is likely the foundation itself - concrete to maybe 6-12" above slab commonly, with the walls built on top.

Since the foundation is commonly about 8" thick and a normal studwall 3-1/2" (or 4 - 5" depending on interior drywall or other finish) thick, the foundation will commonly "stick in" about 3 to 4-1/2". Looks like this - like Detail 12 in your case, where the foundation or stemwall comes up above slab level and is thicker than the wood wall above it -

This is cast concrete (or concrete or cinder block) most likely, and reducing its thickness is not really feasible, and extending the garage walls out for more width means tearing out at least one wall (and overlying roof) and rebuilding foundation, extending slab, etc. - a MAJOR undertaking, and misght be about as cheap (if you have the lateral space between you and property line) and certainly easier to just put another garage bay next to the existing one - but generally at least $10-15,000 in the cheapest areas, and commonly more like $20-40,000 to add on a one-car garage next to the existing.

Since this is a decision factoring into your purchase decision, you would want a better estimate of cost from an Architect for any option before committing to a sale - but sounds like if the garage is too small for your vehicle, unless you are up for a significant addition or are up for a tuck-under garage addition with added bedrooms or such upstairs (and make sure code even allows it for that house first) I would say time to look at another house unless you are up to getting a much smaller car, because that is a lot of work to put into a "new" house. Usually, rather than plan on major remodels to a house, you are better off finding a house that pretty much fits your needs initially.

Answered 7 months ago by LCD



Source: C:\Users\legal\Downloads

Answered 7 months ago by Garian


This should give you an idea of what I am talking about:

Answered 7 months ago by Garian


Yeah, that looks like a raised stemwall foundation like this, just wider than normal.

commonly done to get the base of the wood wall above surrounding grade to avoid flooding, or to provide clearance from ground level to the wood in termite country. Probably looks like this in cross-section -

image shows a thickened slab foundation, in poor soil conditions or deep frost penetration country the foundation stemwall would typically go 3-5 feet into the ground to a strip footer at the bottom, but looks the same inside the garage. Because I don't see a gap around the slab perimeter (though flooring covering could be concealing that) I would guess you have a thickened edge slab like in the diagram.

Taking that out would be a MAJOR job, so unless you are inclined to push a wall out and widen the garage or add another bay anyway (at quite substantial cost), probably a no-go. I can't haxard a good idea for cost not knowing the reinforcing and foundation type and if there is a living story above the garage, but I would be surprised if you could get it for under $5000 range, and possible double that or so - which would be getting you into the at least half the cost of adding another wider garage bay (if you have room). It would take a Structural Engineer (and maybe a bit of jackhammering into that wall or x-raying to se how it is built) to determine what your options are - but even if it could be slabbed off roughly flush with the wood wall, physically doing so would be a lot of work because you lack clearance to get a concrete saw on top to cut down into it.

And from the height of the stemwall and the ceiling height, does not look like raising the slab would be viable either - at least not without ruining the garage for any future SUV/pickup parking, and maybe even making it to low for headroom for walking.

My suggestion - get a carpenter in there to build (assuming you would have adequate car and person headroom) a heavy duty wood ramp and platform to park the car on, raising it enough that the door clears that raised stemwall - with steps down off the stemwall or raised edge on the platform to walk on leaving the car. Because the car would be dripping with water and maybe snow at times, I would use ground contact treated wood.

Another cheaper option, if the garage is not so narrow you hit the same issue at the other side - is learn to back in so the driver's side door has more clearance. Would be a good idea to bolt a few curb feelers on that raised concrete at wheel height (below body height so they do not scratch the paint) to warn you if you are getting too close with the other side of the car, to avoid body damage - or mount a couple to the car as used to be common.

Another good idea for back-in garages, being aware of any roof rack which could catch it, is punch holes in a few tennis balls for heavy string or parachute cord and hang them from the ceiling in a line at the centerline of where you want the car, or mid-window height along that stemwall side of the car, as guides for backing in. Either backing in so they line up with the center of the back window when aligned correctly (if you are a better rear view mirror backer) or so you keep just clear of them on that side, if a side mirror backer.

Of course, if there is tight clearance on both sides, then maybe consider getting a Yugo or Isetta to increase clearance. Or become a biker and get a Harley - might work out well for you if you have been looking for an excuse to get a motorcycle. Or get that gullwing door sports car you have been wanting. Or start riding a bicycle or skateboard - just all sorts of narrow vehicle options.

Or this might be a deal killer.

Answered 7 months ago by LCD

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