Saw this in my new home construction, I am concerned, wondering if this is common. Thanks!

material under ibeam

Top view

  • 2
    It's hard to tell from the picture, if you could add a few different angles, that would help. But it looks like they just placed the blocking to keep the beam in position while they were installing it. – PhilippNagel Apr 6 '20 at 15:37
  • Is that blocking material wood or metal? – JPhi1618 Apr 6 '20 at 15:37
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  • @JPhi1618 metal – bladefist Apr 6 '20 at 15:49
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    We usually put the shims on top but it looks like there is something up there. W would want them squared a bit and a bead on them but it’s not unusual at all. – Ed Beal Apr 6 '20 at 17:56

These are metal shims - very very common.

You install ibeam and either right after install or after joists are installed you want to level everything out. You will need to shim at least one side.

This is really common. Dealing with ground settling, concrete shrinking and so on over a 60' or longer stretch you have two options:

  1. Pay a ton of money to make sure all the planets align and your beam is perfectly level on concrete cut-outs. (and after all that money, it could still be off)

  2. Put $2 worth of metal plates under to shim.

Those plates are not going anywhere - the weight of your house is on them. As an inspector it would not concern me in the least.

The only fear you should have is an overzealous inspector in your town - but this should be the same guy that signed off on the house in the first place. They could require the plates welded to the ibeam or to get a welded piece on that. This would require a temp post, jack it up and weld it on.

Also not sure what it looks like if you go further but I like my ibeam resting on a steel flange. I don't see that here and that bothers me more than anything. And looking at the picture further I would like to see the top of the beam - really doesn't make sense on what is going on there.

Notes based on 2nd picture:

  • Some cities may have a max height of the shims. I have seen 4" more than once. I don't believe there are any code standards on this.
  • The height may not meet code but the most concerning thing is that the plates are not stacked appropriately. The fact is there may be a lateral force due to this. Probably negated by the extreme downward force.
  • And of course they are not welded or tied to the ibeam
  • How concerned would I be as a home owner maybe a 3 out of 10. I mean it wasn't done perfect but it isn't going anywhere. Just the fact that they used this many shims shows they took time to make sure your floors were flat and level.
  • The verdict... I don't think it will pass inspection. I think inspector makes them weld a solid piece to ibeam or steel piece plus 1-3 shims. I would give this maybe a 10-20% chance of making it. The good news it is a relatively fast fix and will only cost builder a few hundred.
  • I'm going to get a picture from on top. The square plates aren't even stacked cleanly which is also bothering me. I'll update with a picture asap. – bladefist Apr 6 '20 at 22:11
  • Can you let us know if the city has sign-off on the install? Has this part of the house passed inspection? – DMoore Apr 6 '20 at 22:15
  • City had to approve of drawings, the rest I'm not sure. I'll report back. – bladefist Apr 7 '20 at 17:23
  • Approving drawings is a step in the process. Approving the install of the beam would come way further down the line. What stage is the house in right now? – DMoore Apr 7 '20 at 18:04
  • I added another photo a top view. One concern I had was how messy the stack of plates are. The house is in framing stage at the moment, I am not sure when inspection is. I am asking for advice here to determine if I should go to my builder/inspector about this or leave it be. – bladefist Apr 8 '20 at 1:35

Shims are OK but Verify the Beam

The metal bearing shims are somewhat normal for this application (residential construction) and is used to bring the top of the beam to the proper elevation though this is more than typical adjustment. It's possible that the beam was originally designed to be deeper and was changed as some point and the dimensions on the plans were not updated, or the contractor made a mistake. I would expect it to be within a 1/2" or so.

The shims do not need to support the full area of the beam between the steel and the concrete as the area just needs to be enough to keep the load down below around 2500 psi which is a lot, a 4 in x 4 in contact area could support 40,000 lbs. I have heard that sometimes the inspector wants the blocks tack welded into place for a mechanical connection so the shims can't move but I have not seen that to be the case personally

This situation is a red flag about the beam size since the next larger size of beam would be 2" deeper and appears that it would also fit. I would measure the depth of the beam and compare it to the beam called out on the structural plans. The beam will have a name such as WF10x12 where the first number is the depth in inches

Note that I deleted my original answer because I had misinterpreted the question and picture

  • I will look into it, thanks! – bladefist Apr 6 '20 at 22:17

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