Here’s what we did. We had a bit of help. When the beam was delivered, Shawn and Chris, the driver for the delivery, carried the beam into the house and laid it in the front door. So it wasn’t directly on the ground. Good move number one. The next morning, we prepared to slide it up onto the second floor. We planned to have me push the beam and Shawn slowly walk it up the ladder to the second floor where we could sort of lay it and push it into place across the second floor of the house. From that point, we would need to take it up about 10 more feet till it spanned the entire length of the house. That was going to be the real trick. We got a second nice break when our neighbor Mike saw us trying to push the beam up into the house and lent a helping hand. With his help, we were able to very quickly slide the beam up onto the second floor. After that, the work was up to us. We wanted the challenge, and frankly were afraid that if the beam fell on someone it could kill them. This was really our challenge.
The project took about 5 hours for us altogether. We spent a lot of time examining the situation before moving to the following step. We first measured and cut the beam to the exact 32 feet we needed for spanning our home. Then Shawn did the layout on the beam, both sides, marking for rafters to be placed every 24 inches. After this we took a break for a vitamin packed lunch and some time to gather our senses for the raising of the beam. We decided that the lift should be done in stages, using site built cleats along the way to progressively lift the beam higher and higher till it could ultimately sit fully atop the highest point on the pitch walls (aka rake wall or gable end wall). Along the way, we’d have to make sure we kept the beam relatively level so we planned to move from one end of the house to the other raising sides by the turn to keep things in good standing. It’s a funny thing to deal with a monstrous beam that is so long and heavy – and bends in the middle! You really have to slow down and take your time. You also have to overcome anxiety. I say you have to overcome anxiety, but more what I mean is that you have to consider it carefully. Too little anxiety and you might not be appreciating the serious thought that should be going in to something like raising a really long and heavy beam over your head and into its appropriate place. But too much thought, and you could become paralyzed. It’s a fine line. Something that came to me a couple of times during the process was advice that a friend in the tree business once gave us. He mentioned that you have to really learn to trust your safety equipment. In our case, our safety equipment consisted of a lot of careful thought and consideration followed by belief that the temporary cleats that we were placing along the way would hold up properly and keep the beam in a good place while we prepared to move to the next height. I should mention here that the stepped cleats were attached to two site built jigs, themselves attached vertically to the rake walls, that prevented the beam from rolling, which it was prone to do – especially in a warm, convective summery breeze.
Slowly and carefully we continued to plan and place cleats and slowly and carefully we continued to raise our monster LVL higher and higher up the rake walls till finally one end was placed, safely anchored in place by 2 x 4 cleats keeping it standing upright (the beam stands on its narrow end and really had a propensity to tip over, which would have been disastrous. So we really had to keep it cleated properly to prevent this). It was time to lift the other side of the beam well above our heads and into place. The last lift required us to raise the beam much higher than before and the overhead work was nerve wracking at this point, though we could keep ourselves calm and ready by taking our time and talking each move through with each other at least twice before undertaking it. We took a deep breath and prepared to lift the beam the last part of the way into its permanent home. It slid into place nicely and we anchored it with screws till we could put up some rafters the next day. After that process, we were definitely ready for dinner.