Rolled Steel Joints – most commonly known as RSJs – are beams used to support ceilings or other loads and weights. They are used most commonly to replace a load-bearing wall when it comes to residential homes.
RSJs have a specific shape to maximise their capacity for load-bearing with the minimum amount of steel required. They’re typically used to provide essential support for new builds or for those who want to remove a load-bearing wall and need support to replace it.
Our guide takes a look at RSJs within home development, including how much they usually cost, what is likely to affect the cost of RSJs, how you can save money and the best way to find a builder who can help you instal an RSJ in your home.
How Much Does an RSJ or Universal Beam Cost?
The cost of installing an RSJ will depend on several factors, including, the size of the beam, the ease of access to your property, your location in the UK and whether you will be paying for any additional costs.
The table below breaks down the estimated supply and labour cost for the installation of a universal beam RSJ installation.
|Size of RSJ||Estimated Supply Cost||Estimated Labour Cost||Time Estimated||Estimated Total Cost|
|1 metre RSJ (universal beam)||£30-£120 inc VAT||£400||One to three days||£430-£520|
|4 metre RSJ (universal beam)||£95-£240 inc VAT||£600||One to three days||£695-£840|
|6 metre RSJ (universal beam)||£180-£360 inc VAT||£800||One to three days||£980-£1,160|
A one metre RSJ is expected to cost you between £30-£120 in supply costs and £400 in labour costs, with the total estimated cost for installation between £430-£520.
The reason for the high labour costs is because you should hire an extremely qualified builder as well as a structural engineer to ensure that the RSJ support can hold up the intended load. This will make sure that the structural integrity of your home is not compromised and is safe to live in.
A four-metre RSJ is estimated to cost you between £95-£240 in supply costs and £600 in labour costs, with the total estimated cost for installation between £695-£840.
A six-metre RSJ is estimated to cost you between £180-£360 in supply cost and £800 in labour costs, with the total estimated cost for installation between £980-£1,160.
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What Affects the Cost of a Steel Beam?
The total price for RSJ installation will vary from project to project, so do keep that in mind before you begin to shop around.
The size of the steel beam is undoubtedly one of the biggest deciding factors when it comes to the final price.
The bigger the RSJ beam, the more expensive the cost is going to be due to the amount of material involved in the make. On average, an RSJ beam costs around £50-£150 per metre.
If an RSJ beam is longer, it also needs to be heavier to be able to safely hold the weight that’s assigned to that particular length of beam. The heavier an RSJ beam is, the more steel has been used to manufacture it.
This means that the RSJ may need mechanical equipment to lift and instal the beam, and so as well as the supply cost increasing, the labour cost will also increase.
Structural Engineer Fees
Installation of an RSJ beam should not be undertaken by an individual in an attempt to DIY this project. As well as needing a qualified and experienced builder, a structural engineer will also need to come to the property and give their input on the structural impacts to make sure the property meets Building Regulations.
A structural engineer will make calculations on the correct support that is needed to bear the load and possibly also complete some drawings on the impact of removing a wall to your home and what will need to be undertaken to ensure the job is carried out safely. They will then work closely with the builder to share this information and instal the correct RSJ.
On average a structural engineer will charge £200-£300 to come and examine the property if you’re planning on removing a load-bearing wall.
Bear in mind that if you’re hoping to build an extension or go ahead with a loft conversion, these types of home developments are much more extensive, and you should anticipate a structural engineer’s fees for these kinds of projects to be higher.
Unfortunately, installing an RSJ is a messy job. Even the most skilled builders will need to somewhat damage your property to safely and correctly remove a load-bearing wall and then instal an RSJ.
Once the RSJ has been installed there may be areas of your home that will need to be replastered and redecorated to get the room back up to an attractive standard. You should expect this to be the case for most RSJ projects.
Some builders will include replastering the damaged walls within their quotes but in some cases, you may also need to hire a different contractor to come and plaster the walls for you.
You can expect to pay £600-£1,000 for new plastering to be applied to walls or ceilings, depending on the size of the room.
It’s important to speak closely with the builder of the project and find out what is and isn’t included in their quote, so you know if you need to budget for any additional costs, such as the plastering and decorating at the end of the job.
Painting and Decorating
Similarly, due to the damage that may need to be done to the surrounding walls in your property for an RSJ installation, you should anticipate needing to hire a painter and decorator to work on your property once the installation is complete.
It’s relatively unavoidable to leave your property in pristine condition when installing an RSJ so you should make sure you’re prepared to either do the finishing touches yourself or hire a professional painter and decorator to take care of them for you.
An estimated daily price to hire a contractor for painting or decorating is £160, but keep in mind that properties that are located in London will have higher costs than properties located elsewhere in the UK.
How Can I Save Money on an RSJ?
We do not recommend you try to instal an RSJ yourself to cut the costs. This is not a project that should be taken on without the correct experience and qualifications as it could put the entire structural integrity of the property at risk.
When it comes to structural work in home developments, we strongly advise that you do not try to cut costs with DIY tricks and tips. This type of installation could potentially cause dangerous risks to the property and residents if done incorrectly.
The best way to save money on this type of installation is to plan, plan, plan. We recommend detailed and extensive planning for any home development project, but particularly for ones that include complicated building work, such as installing an RSJ.
Make sure you’ve spoken to a few builders and structural engineers to get the best quote and that you’re aware of all planning application costs that could be involved in this type of installation and have budgeted for them.
You must hire a structural engineer to advise you on the correct size and type of beam you will need to be installed. Although their fees may be high in the initial purchase, it will save you so much money in the long run if you know from the offset you have got exactly the right beam purchased and installed correctly and won’t be running into any fines for breaking Building Regulations.
Don’t jump on the first quote offered to you! Use HouseholdQuotes to quickly and easily compare quotes between reputable and qualified builders to find the perfect fit for your RSJ steel beam installation.
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What’s Involved in Installing a Steel Beam?
Much like trying to estimate the final cost of a steel beam, what goes into the installation of one will differ from project to project.
Removing a Load-Bearing Wall
Firstly, a local builder will need to be contacted about the cost of removing the load-bearing wall from your property.
The next speak will be to speak with a structural engineer, who will make relevant calculations about the support needed to hold up the load. They will ensure the right RSJ beam is purchased for the house.
All planning permission applications and building inspections should be completed at this point.
Preparation work will then be undertaken and the relevant weights of the walls on the upstairs floors and side partition walls will be supported. Using strong boys and construction props, an opening area will be created.
Demolition should then be undertaken safely with the waste removal considered in advance. The wall opening will be created, and the RSJ fitted to the right location and support.
The strong boys and props can then be removed and the job can be considered complete with the final approval from a building inspector.
A kitchen extension, though likely to take longer and cost more, is similar to the above as it is most likely that a load-bearing wall may need to be removed to extend the kitchen.
If this is the case, you will need a builder to be contacted about the cost of removing the load-bearing wall from your property.
You will then need to get in contact with a structural engineer who will make relevant calculations about the support needed from the beam to hold up the load. If no wall needs removing, you will still need to speak to a structural engineer who can make the correct calculations for what supports need to be in place.
They will then ensure the right RSJ beam or beams are purchased for the house and share information with the builder who will carry out the building work.
All loft conversions are likely to need RSJ beams, as the original beams have probably not been installed with the ability to bear the weight of the extra space you will be creating. The RSJ beams will be able to carry this weight and ensure the structural safety of the property.
You may want to speak to a structural engineer or a professional loft conversion specialist, who can draw up structurally safe plans for a loft conversion for between £400-£1,500 depending on the size and design of the new conversion.
A loft conversion will take between four and six weeks. The scaffolding will firstly be erected and the roof opened up.
Supports and beams will be installed here if needed for extra structural support, then the windows will be added to the property.
The external work will then be finished off, with the roof completely tiled and the space ready for any plumbing or electrical work.
How Do I Find and Hire a Structural Engineer or Builder?
You should first seek recommendations from family, friends and neighbours.
A really good way of finding a structural engineer for your new project is to check the Institution of Structural Engineers (IStructE). This way you can be sure of their qualification and experiences before you hire them.
HouseholdQuotes can potentially save you 40% on your project quote by allowing you to quickly and easily compare qualified builders to find the right tradesperson for your new project.
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Ensuring the Professional Is the Right Fit
It’s a good idea to make sure you have a list of questions ready to verify that the professional you are hoping to hire is the right fit for you. Use the questions below to make sure your professional is up to the job:
- Ask them for a written quote.
- Ask for their experience. You will need a very experienced and qualified builder to instal an RSJ beam.
- For their references. If they can provide you with references you can be sure of their ability and may even be able to see some of their previous work.
- For any photos of their previous jobs. This will offer you the opportunity to see the quality of their work and could also provide you with some good references for your own project designs.
- If they and their tools are insured. This can protect you from lawsuits if they or your property is damaged when they come to your home.
Use this checklist to make sure you understand the best steps to take to get an RSJ beam installed correctly and safely in your property:
- Decide what kind of RSJ installation job you need to be undertaken.
- Begin to research and plan what is involved in this kind of project, so you have an idea of your budget.
- Get quotes from qualified builders and structural engineers who you think would be a good fit to work on the project with you.
- Use HouseholdQuotes to easily compare reputable builders and structural engineers to get your RSJ beam installation on the way!
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Frequently Asked Questions:
Will I Need Planning Permission or Building Regulations Approval For My Project?
You should always check Planning Portal, here, for more information regarding what approval your project needs, but if you’re planning on changing the structure of the building it is most likely you will need planning permission and Building Regulations approval.
Is an RSJ the Same as a Universal Beam?
Make sure you are specific when referring to which beams you may want to purchase, though a structural engineer can help you with this.
What’s the Difference Between an RSJ (Or Universal Beam) And a Universal Column?
A universal beam is also known as an I-beam as it comes in an I shape. A universal column is also known as an H-beam as it comes in an H shape.
What’s the Difference Between an I-Beam and an H-Beam?
I-beams are most commonly used in building structures to support roofs and floors and H-beams are most commonly used in structural applications.
What’s the Difference Between an RSJ and a Lintel?
These are commonly doorways, windows and archways.