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Question DetailsAsked on 7/23/2015

How much should it cost to replace a steel support beam in a basement?

Due to water leaks the support beam in the basement is rusting out

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1 Answer


Obviously depends a lot on the size and length of the beam, whether it can readily be replaced through the outside wall or if a trench has to be dug to get it out and a new one in, whether it supports only interior walls and flooring or also supports exterior walls, how much temporary support is necessary to support the flooring and walls above it (and how many floors are above it), headroom (in full-height basement or in crawlspace ?), etc.

For a typical dimension roughly 2000 SF (plus or minus) house, the beam might cost something around $500 itself plus or minus maybe $250, consumable materials and rental/usage charges on temporary shoring materials cost probably about the same ballpark, and labor from as little as maybe $500 for a very small, short simply supported fully accessible beam to a thousand or two $ for a full house width or length beam. Of course, if this is a massive deep beam spanning 30-40 feet or more or supporting a major portion of the house weight or cantilevered out from a slope or such, can sometimes get up into the $10-20,000 range but that would be a rare case.

If the damage is limited to a short length section from the leak, then it might be repairable in place - which might cut the cost by 50-75% in the ideal case.

Since dealing with replacing a major structural member, in most areas you will need a Structural engineer's plan for the replacement to be able to get a buildeing permit anyway, plus good to have that for bidding and construction purposes, so start there for probably about $250-400 for an assessment and a fix design letter report.

You may well find the damage is less severe than you think (if just quite rusty but not actually rusting through the beam) and in-place repair might just be a matter or rust neutralization and repainting, then a few welded or bolted cover plates or insert channels. The structural engineer will be able to tell you if that is feasible or practical - will depend on amount of damage and how difficult removing and replacing the existing beam is. It is also possible, especially if intermediate supports are acceptable in the basement, that an alternative beam system could be put in first (like on each side of the existing beam) then the rusted one removed, eliminating the need for temporary supports during the removal.

Your contractor category could be a General Contractor or House Moving company if a major job, or if a simple slip-out and replace job possibly a Carpenter - Framing.

Answered 5 years ago by LCD

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