Those Dirty, Rotten Beams - Page 4

Cleaning up their act—from blight to natural beauty
  Those Dirty, Rotten Beams
RETRObeam Restorations’ installer works on the ending of a damaged Eichler beam. Note all the repaired (metal-capped) ones in the background.

Alternatively, repairs in RETRObeam’s projects generally consist of replacing the last two feet of a beam, with one important difference: Ramirez uses custom-made, hollow metal extensions for each rotted ending. These pieces cost a uniform $700 unless more than two feet are needed, in which case they run $75 for each additional foot.

That price seems steep to some customers. “I’ll have people call me and they’ll just laugh in my face,” admits Ramirez, a contractor for the past 25 years who hit on his unique approach about a decade ago. He concedes that there are cheaper, albeit less attractive solutions—but, he adds, are they worth it?

“The least expensive way to go…[when a beam ending rots is to] cut at a 45 or 30 degree angle back toward the house,” which he said will “last another 25 years and be fine.”

“Unfortunately,” he notes gravely, “Then you lose the look of the Eichler [or the Streng].”

Those Dirty, Rotten Beams
Now that the project is complete, thanks to RETRObeam Restorations’ unique, protective covering, all the beams on this Eichler now look healthy and brand new.

No more ‘rotten’ talk

“I designed my caps for two reasons,” Ramirez continues. “One is to eliminate all discussion of rotten caps or beams. The second reason is to truly restore the Eichler and Streng look.”

“My fabricator is so good at replacing the 4-by-8, 4-by-10, 4-by-12 look,” he said of the beam sizes that he meticulously measures and fits to each custom-welded extension, adding, “I’ve [even] seen Eichlers with 4-by-14s.”

“Every house is different,” Ramirez adds, explaining why his welding vendor does each piece individually out of 14-gauge steel. “The reason I personally measure each one is that I want to keep that seamless look.”

“The corners have to be ground down and made smooth to emulate the wood,” he said of the fabrication process, admitting, “I am still amazed at the artistry of his metallurgy skills.”

  Those Dirty, Rotten Beams
Adam Ramirez of RETRObeam Restorations holding one of his metal beam caps.

While Ramirez gets his share of skeptical inquiries, most of his clients are concerned not just with structural support for their home, but also aesthetics.

“They want it fixed once and for all,” the Davis manufacturer beamed. “They want to restore the house to its natural glory.”


Photography: John Eng, Ernie Braun, David Toerge, Kay Voyvodich, Paula Lee; and courtesy Joe Gomes Construction, RETRObeam Restorations, Building Company



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Calvert Ventures

Wilson Construction (handyman)


The Building Company

Starburst Construction

Keycon Construction & Design


Smollen the Builder

Vida Building Systems


Larco Construction Services


Joe Gomes Construction

RETRObeam Restorations


Transcontinental Construction Concepts

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