Hey folks, I’m brand new to this forum. Hoping you can lend some experience and ideas to a remodel I’m working on. Most of our basement is finished space. There is a 12’x15′ storage room that I’m working one converting to a home office. As it stands today, the ceiling and three of the walls are finished (drywall, electical, etc) however the opening to the room is the entire 12′ span on the one end. That 12′ span has a 3-ply 2×12 pine beam running its full length as a load bearing member (the rest of the basement along that same axis has a load bearing wall). The plan is to build in walls in that opening and add a pair of french doors in the center of it.
To accomodate proper 80′ doors, I’m replacing the pine beam with a W6x15 steel I-beam as spec’ed by my engineer. The wall and doors will run underneath. Now here’s my deliemma. The beam is 6 inches wide. Obviously a 2×4 or 2×6 wall underneath is not going to cover the full width. Additionally, I need room between the beam and the drywall for electrical to drop from above for light switches and a pair of outlets. So I’m looking for thoughts on how best to build these walls.
One thought I had was to use 2×8’s running up to the joists and just notch out the area at the top of them where the beam will be. This would give me 1.5 inches between the beam and the drywall. Another thought I had was to build 2×4 walls next to (toward the inside of the room) rather than under the beam. I could then build a soffit around the beam but obviously would be giving up a few more inches in the overall dimensions of the room.
Personally, I and the engineer would like to have the walls under the beam to help assist with deflection. However, the beam does pass L/360 without so it isn’t a requirement. I can’t have any soffit’s inside the office because I plan to run crown molding around the entire room and soffit would just look lame in that regard. So I’m looking for some creative ideas on how to approach this. Your assistance is appreciated.