if this wall is not load bearing, why is there such a big header?

jaansuAugust 20, 2011

In preparation for a kitchen remodel, I had a structural engineer determine if two short walls coming to the kitchen are load bearing. He measured the various walls and gave me a statement they are not. I just opened the wall next to a door in one of these walls and I see there is a serious header over it. The top of the door is bridged by 3 2X10"s sandwiched around 2 1/2" plywood boards. All rest on a couple of 2X6s that frame the doorway. These 2X6s are nailed to 2X6 studs. And another 2X6 come down to rest on the header.

OK, so I have a superficial understanding of loads, but why would Toll Bros do all this if it isn't a supporting structure? Should I speak again to the engineer about this?

My main objective in all this is to turn this doorway into a passage way. If I could safely remove those 2X6s that frame the doorway and keep the header, I would be happy. Can this be done in some manner? For instance, is there something like serious L-brackets that would safely transfer the load to the 2X6 stud next to the door frame? Assuming this can be done?

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You should stop work immediately and even now be placing a call to the engineer who made the initial assessment. He did give you a written report with details for how to properly accomplish this, didn't he? Or was this a "quickie" $200 consult without any report that would bind him to his opinion?

    Bookmark   August 20, 2011 at 3:57PM
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I didn't ask for demolition instructions but only if I could safely remove these walls. His fee was $875 and is a local concern recommended by others.
It's usually tough to reach businesses like engineers on a Saturday afternoon.

    Bookmark   August 20, 2011 at 4:45PM
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I'm going to call the engineer tomorrow to ask his opinion. I hope he would be willing to come back and see what is behind the drywall. Let's say he was wrong - how to proceed? Am I justified is asking his fee to be refunded? Part of it? What would you do?

    Bookmark   August 21, 2011 at 9:00PM
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It really is not that uncommon for builders to just mass produce headers out of the same materials. They just size them for the largest load for the project and don't worry about individual calculations. The material cost difference is pretty minimal and you can get away with using less experienced labor if you don't need them to think about a bunch of different factors. You just have someone making 10 "doors" and 25 "windows" all in a row and pop them in as you go.

Of course, that is why you hire an engineer to tell you why things were done and if you can change them.

As a practical matter, you can turn just about any doorway into a wider entrance. If the wall is load bearing, you just need to size the header appropriately for the load and span. A triple 2x10 is probably enough, but the engineer should do the calculations and let you know.

You don't put a header on an L bracket though. You'll need a 2x6 under each end and then another 2x6 running on the outside running continuously from floor to ceiling. You'll almost certainly need a longer header.

If you are planning to do this yourself and it is load bearing, remember to build a temporary wall to support the load before you take down that header or any of the 2x6 studs.

    Bookmark   August 22, 2011 at 10:29AM
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