CARMELHILL

Stud and joist finder

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When I document existing conditions for a home reno or addition I'll make certain assumptions about the hidden framing. But I've been to a few older homes where the front to back floor framing was matched on the second floor and oddly there isn't anything holding the triangle of the roof structure together (no rafter ties either). I've also been inside some new homes where the framing is a little baffling because of the larger double height entries, so the framing directions are "imaginative".

 

One local municipality hasn't been satisfied with "existing 2" x floor joists @ 16" o.c. (assumed)". I've added VIF a few times, but who really wants a surprised contractor calling for a field change that he needs immediately? So what to do? Some crawlspaces are completely inaccessible, or filled with cob webs and racoons. Same for the attics.

 

Besides using a stud finder, which I've never been fully satisfied with, does anyone have any experience/satisfaction with:

Walabot

https://walabot.com/diy?gclid=CjwKCAjwtvnbBRA5EiwAcRvnpsfxTKknHjAqI7t3nrX_fKlM4fthT7LXTVrgsf6hlKwwDWZXvzMlvBoC2CEQAvD_BwE

 

Digital stud finder:

https://walabot.com/diy?gclid=CjwKCAjwtvnbBRA5EiwAcRvnpsfxTKknHjAqI7t3nrX_fKlM4fthT7LXTVrgsf6hlKwwDWZXvzMlvBoC2CEQAvD_BwE

 

Dewalt radar stud finder

https://www.dewalt.com/products/power-tools/lasers-and-instruments/hand-held-wall-scanner/dct419s1

 

Or anything similar? 

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In my experience with renovations, once you get to the permit stage, a contractor has usually been selected, and the client is expecting some serious work to start in their home. At this point I'll personally go over to their house and punch a few holes in the walls or cut a small hole in the floor where I know it can be easily patched as part of the renovation and take note of the framing within. Then I'll revise the plans accordingly in order to get past the specific existing framing specs that the city or county requires.

 

You shouldn't be afraid to get your hands dirty with a hammer or cordless skill saw when designing a remodel on 100 year old homes. I usually bring a cordless vacuum with me to clean up afterwards as well.

 

Every client I've dealt with has been fine with me doing this so long as I clean up after myself and the contractor is always happy to oblige because he/she wants to know the same information just as bad in order to plan the building process properly.

 

My advice would be to forget the new fancy and expensive gadgets and simplify this process by doing it the old fashion way

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Verify in field is the way to go.  A competent builder will know the importence of this, and plan ahead for it.  Homeowners don't want me tearing out walls to detail existing structure.  This is what makes renos costly, the unknown.  

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on a side note I was always looking for - but never found - a way to measure wall thickness

 

I wanted a device where a sensor was placed on side B and then device on side A

press a button and voila !!!

 

no such luck :(

 

measuring at door frames didn't always work due to moldings

some walls don't have doors

opening outlets was not desired many times

 

I bought various calipers but never achieved a workable tool  :(

 

Lew

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5 hours ago, lbuttery said:

on a side note I was always looking for - but never found - a way to measure wall thickness

 

I wanted a device where a sensor was placed on side B and then device on side A

press a button and voila !!!

 

no such luck :(

 

measuring at door frames didn't always work due to moldings

some walls don't have doors

opening outlets was not desired many times

 

I bought various calipers but never achieved a workable tool  :(

 

Lew

With a laser tool, measure each room separately, then the rooms combined through the doorway.  Subtract the difference.

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Those scanners look pretty amazing and would pay for themselves in very short order - if they worked. I used to be a general and cutting holes in multiple walls was standard procedure but each hole, if not part of the scope of work, cost money to patch. Not thousands, but hundreds if the exploratory was extensive enough. The hard part would be learning to really trust the tool to be accurate in ALL cases. One mis-read and there goes any savings the tool might have generated.

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21 hours ago, KervinHomeDesign said:

Verify in field is the way to go.  A competent builder will know the importence of this, and plan ahead for it.  Homeowners don't want me tearing out walls to detail existing structure.  This is what makes renos costly, the unknown.  

Sure. But only if the town will accept that on the drawings.

 

I had feedback from a few contractors that hated that term. Left too much open ended for their bids. Most towns accept that term on the drawings, but I had one plans examiner a few months ago that was having a bad day, maybe a Monday, and wouldn't accept it.

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50 minutes ago, CARMELHILL said:

Sure. But only if the town will accept that on the drawings.

 

I had feedback from a few contractors that hated that term. Left too much open ended for their bids. Most towns accept that term on the drawings, but I had one plans examiner a few months ago that was having a bad day, maybe a Monday, and wouldn't accept it.

We (the contractor I am working for and myself) do quite a bit of field verification before finalizing plans but it's mostly stuff like existing framing that we can see in an attic so the structural engineer can accurately spec the new framing etc. Rarely tear out any walls or ceilings before permitting. before a contract is signed.

 

Would still be hard to totally rely on a scanner for accurate behind the wall information because one missed pipe or electrical wire could be disastrous.

 

Curious - how does insulation affect those scanners?

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Field verification is the only way to go on this.  Expecting accuracy of what is behind the drywall is an unrealistic expectation.  A good understanding of how buildings are normally put together, is usually very accurate.  I'm not sure if punching holes increases the accuracy enough to justify the costs. I'm envisioning a project that has been gutted except for one sheet of drywall.  Plans created based on this could still be wrong because there may be something unforeseen behind the one sheet of drywall.  A GOOD builder understands this.  A BAD builder will whine about the accuracy of the plan (they are usually the ones that build only new homes).

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With a laser tool, measure each room separately, then the rooms combined through the doorway.  Subtract the difference.

 

Rod:

 

I did that as a workaround

 

but still wanted a device to measure wall thickness ...

 

Lew

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I'm not sure there is ever any one "only way to go" as every building and project is different and needs to be looked at as a unique project with variables that can only be guessed at in many cases. A GOOD builder may understand this but even the BEST builders can be surprised by as built conditions that are unique to that particular project. Each project is different and each project should be treated as such IMO. There's no single approach that will work in every case and good builder will have those conditions written up as unknowns in his/her contract and will have made that clear to the client before any work is started. Still many landmines out there and if anything will show those landmines it's a remodel of an older home.

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