Bearing of Porch Piers

Here is a condition I see often. These are front porch piers. It has bearing to at least the center of the post but I don’t like it. This drives me nuts. What is your take?

What don’t you like about it? What drives you nuts?

Would the railing withstand 200 lbs. of horizontal force?

I think he is worried the roof may collapse if those 2 columns give way.

Porch was most likely originally built using 4" diameter colonial style columns. Going with a large diameter tapered column forces column centerline to be moved back to accommodate the large collar. Cosmetic, they could’ve went with a smaller diameter column which would place the load closer to the center. But I don’t have a problem with it.

Caveat: I’m assuming the knee wall in the bumpout is in line with the exterior bearing wall?

Ummm. It is not a railing. It is a porch roof support pier as the photo depicts. It supports a portion of the main roof that overhangs the porch. Where did you get railing?

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Yep, not necessarily collapse but lateral movement, and twisting. The piers only support 5-6 feet of roof past the exterior wall, but if they do move overtime, it will possibly sag in the center of the span. The load is on 50% of the column. I’m sure it will be fine, just looks sub standard to me. Thanks folks for your input.

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If roof truss was designed properly, those columns are most likely just for show. Poor planning as far as the location. If the brick is on a brick shelf, the column could of slid over for aesthetics at the top.

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I don’t know, James. For some reason I read railing and not pier. My bad.

I agree, think it was installed that way for aesthetics, the top column front face flush with the front of the beam, so the gap above is inside the porch area. It would bug me as well, not being centered. There is a maximum offset for studs to joists (1.5"?). IDK if there is something similar for posts/columns but imagine there is. The roof overhang looks large enough that imo the beam is load bearing. Not too long of a span though.

It looks like it is bowed on my computer, but it could be the picture, as the brick wall is as well. Straight facing picture?

I have the same setup at the house I am in now. Only real issue is it makes a place for the birds to nest and crap all over the posts. Real messy!!

Depth of beam appears too small for load bearing trusses. I agree with Marcel the trusses were likely designed to be cantilevered.

The funny thing is that if you place the top directly under the beam, then the bottom would be hanging half way off of the porch slab.

Yes, it would be over the brick, which would be alright if the columns are not load bearing and OK if the brick is on a brick ledge.
A quick trip in the attic would tell you if the overhang is load bearing or not.

Thanks guys for all your input.

James S. Saunders, CPI
President, Member
Certified Inspectors of North Carolina LLC.
Direct: 910-578-4943

You’ve got to say, I think that if I keep working at this and want it badly enough I can have it. It’s called perseverance. – Lee Iacocca

I was waiting for the thread to get to this point…

Now, since nobody else asked :), what would you be looking for in the attic to see if those columns are just holding up the railing or if they are in fact load bearing? how can you tell from the front pic alone the construction is using trusses and not rafters?

The truss would look something like this, Simon:

It pretty much has to be cantilevered trusses and decorative columns since if the columns were load bearing the offset axial thrust with dubious end conditions would likely not have passed inspection.

It looks awful, too, and structural logic, or its absence as in this case, is readily apparent to most people. The neck of the column should be aligned or centered on the beam or architrave, as others have pointed out, and not offset the way these are for the purpose of aligning the capital and base with the face of the brick and beam.

I would assume it is load bearing, but those posts are only decorative, let me explain… the 2nd floor finished area has a floor level that would be lower than the roof line, cutting into the truss, so it cannot be trusses at that section. I think there is probably a beam above the posts, that possibly sits on the garage brick wall and the brick at the other end, making it load bearing, but the columns would be decorative.
I know it looks like the beam is not tall enough, but it probably goes up higher with the joists hanging on the side with joist hangers, not sitting on top. Also notice the height difference from the porch area ceiling and the soffit area on either side of the beam… a truss would continue through at same height. If it wasn’t a beam, the would be no reason to have that frame down instead of a continuous ceiling plane.

Can’t assume anything, a trip up in the attic would tell you the story. Even with that dormer, a truss on each side and proper framing in front of the dormer, it can be done so it is not bearing any weight on those columns.
Inspection is the only way to verify.

Marcel is correct. It can be done.