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Concrete lintels and not steel beams

Hi all,

I had a architect draw up plans for knocking through a kitchen into a adjoining room and other bits and bobs. The wall is a load bearing wall, so needs a steel beam running across which will be cranked. The architect made a assumption the the steel beam will run across original steels beams and be joined together. I have been informed by a builder that the beams are not steel but conpressed concrete lintels and will not get involved.

I am not sure where I stand as I have already paid for warrant or drawings. Where do I stand with the architect since it is a mistake? Also would it be possible to just replace the concrete lintel for a steel beam without going through planning or structural engineer?

8 Answers from MyBuilder Architectural Designers

Best Answer

Hi, thanks for posting this question. It is perfectly normal for an Architect to make assumptions whilst preparing designs for you, however the Architect should have advised you that these designs were based on certain assumptions so that you were kept informed. As a Chartered Architect, I would have advised the client they needed to appoint a Structural engineer to prepare the necessary supporting Structural scheme. The Structural Engineer would have requested an intrusive survey to ascertain what they were dealing with and to prepare their scheme correctly. I would suggest you're next step would be to get a Structural Engineer appointed and they can discuss suitable structural solutions with you.

Best wishes Lee Davidson RIBA

2019-08-11T08:45:02+01:00

Answered 11th Aug 2019

Concrete Intel's can be replaced with steel beams but you will need calculations from a structural engineer for Building Control a site inspection by the structural engineer would also be advisable.
Assuming that the concrete lintels were plastered at the time of the survey by the architect it would not have been possible to determine if they were concrete or steel without a builder doing some investigation work to remove the plaster.
In this case I don't think it is a mistake by the architect and this is an example of why you should always have a contingency sum available for issues that arise in this sort of project.

2019-08-11T10:15:02+01:00

Answered 11th Aug 2019

You definitely need to go back to your architect and tell him/her exactly what your builder has said. Don't make any assumptions about who is right or wrong - but put the issue back in the hands of the person - your architect - who has provided you with the specification. It is incumbent on them to reassure you - and give full reasons to support their work - or to re-evaluate their details. It is essential that structural details are correct. If you are not confident with your architect's advice then I would suggest having the details checked by a separate structural engineer. It might cost you a bit more - but it's essential that the details are right.

2019-08-11T08:45:02+01:00

Answered 11th Aug 2019

If the new steel beam cannot connect in to an existing steel beam (as was thought was there), you may be able to use padstones which are fitted in to the internal leaf / supporting leaf of your external wall, on the assumption that the wall and foundations have the required structural integrity. However, this must be verified by a structural engineer.
Whilst the architectural professional can propose the setting out of the structural aspects of a project, the structural engineering solution would generally be outside their remit. Often a client will ask the architectural professional to manage the engineering on their behalf, and will use an engineer they know and trust, which of course increases the fees. If you came to a mutual understanding that the architect / architectural technologist would include the engineering then they should consult with their engineer (sub-consultant). However, if this was not included I would urge you to hire a structural engineer (and the costs should be minimal for such a job). Please also check their level of insurance cover. Hope this helps!
David of Meridian Architecture.

2019-08-11T08:45:02+01:00

Answered 11th Aug 2019

The answer you seek is straightforward in that the precast concrete lintels can be replaced by a steel but you will need calculations to prove the size of steels are satisfactory with Building Control.Planning would not necessarily be involved in this as the work is internal.

As regards who is responsible that is for a legal team to determine as it involves professional liability insurance and the timeline of events.

Hopefully all gets resolved soon.

2019-08-11T08:45:02+01:00

Answered 11th Aug 2019

There is no doubt that you need a Structural Engineer to establish the condition and loadings on the existing beam and then design a new beam.
A Structural Engineer should charge a few hundred pounds for this sort of survey/design worth every penny!

A&D Design

2019-08-11T10:15:02+01:00

Answered 11th Aug 2019

Hi,

Sorry for the situation you’re in. You need a Structural Engineer to assess the existing lintel for you. If you’re making a much bigger opening (assuming with the crank) there are other factors to consider - you need a qualified expert to look at it. I am a Chartered Architectural Technologist and a Chartered Builder but I always inform my clients if any structural work is required outside my remit of expertise - they will need to commission an Engineer.

Don’t Building Control want calculations for this?

Assuming is not the way to go with anything structural - you need to know.

I hope this helps and good luck.

2019-08-11T10:15:02+01:00

Answered 11th Aug 2019

This job needs checking out by your original Architect, or failing that, an accredited agent from your local planning department. He/she normally uses an insured Structural Engineer to calculate a safe and suitable steel or concrete beam. The drawings and calculations must be approved by your Building Control Department (Not Planning Department). Trust this helps.

2019-08-11T18:45:02+01:00

Answered 11th Aug 2019

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