Removing a load bearing wall - possible?

AH9200August 14, 2012

We are looking at buying a house that has a load bearing wall between the family room and kitchen. We are wanting to know if its possbibe to reomove the wall to have a more open floor plan. I am thinking it will be very costly but wanted to get some feedback from others who may have went through this.

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millworkman

Anything is possible but you need to have an Engineer inspect this to insure the house will not collapse. That being said anything is possible it just may be cost prohibitive.

    Bookmark   August 14, 2012 at 3:38PM
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sea_koz

I've done this once already and I'm about to do it in my current home. What ends up happening is that the wall is replaced by a load bearing beam. Depending on the length of the span you may find yourself with a steel beam instead of wood. In my previous house we did it with a laminated wood beam. In this house I have an 18 foot span so we will be going with a metal beam to reduce the size of the beam.

Cost wise in my case I dont remember it being too bad for the first house but I dont remember how much. Definitely I would only buy the house if you thought you could live with it still having the wall. You never know what other conditions you may find that raise the price on you.

    Bookmark   August 14, 2012 at 11:20PM
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brickeyee

Adequate support must be provided at each end of the beam based on the load it will carry.

You have taken a distributed load from the wall and turned it into two point loads at each end of the beam.

Depending on how large the loads are, and how you can spread them back out on the foundation that is already there, more work may be required.

    Bookmark   August 15, 2012 at 11:17AM
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sea_koz

That's a good point, for my current house the GC will have to verify the concrete footings are large enough, and if not, expand them.

    Bookmark   August 15, 2012 at 4:34PM
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don92

load must extend to the footers, other than that its no big deal. You can either have the beam( established by an engineer) hold up the ceiling or hide it in the attic and hang the ceiling from it, giving you a flush ceiling.

    Bookmark   August 15, 2012 at 8:42PM
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brickeyee

"oad must extend to the footers, other than that its no big deal."

That depends entirely on the size of the load and the size of the footers.

It may not be an issue, or it could require larger footers.

    Bookmark   August 16, 2012 at 9:56AM
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virgilcarter

All the comments above accurately summarize the situation. You need to have an architect, engineer or experienced contractor look at the house and give you an estimate.

    Bookmark   September 5, 2012 at 11:24PM
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sea_koz

In my case, all three!

    Bookmark   September 5, 2012 at 11:33PM
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dreambuilder

This could be a dumb question--but can you tell just by looking if a wall is "load bearing"? Or is it necessary to have blueprints to tell which are true load bearing walls? Thanks...

    Bookmark   September 5, 2012 at 11:43PM
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kirkhall

There are some clues to load bearing walls, and these are what a structural engineer would identify even if you didn't have the original blueprints.

    Bookmark   September 6, 2012 at 6:50PM
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brickeyee

"This could be a dumb question--but can you tell just by looking if a wall is "load bearing"?"

You look at how the house is laid out, joist and rafter directions, supports going to the foundation.

If you understand how houses are built (and some why they are built that way) it is usually not hard.

    Bookmark   September 7, 2012 at 12:47PM
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sea_koz

I think that's generally true. In the case of my current house, I had the inspector and two contractors look at it and they couldn't come to agreement. It was only when the civil engineer came out that I got an answer I was confident in. Mine has joists going in multiple directions and had a false ceiling that confused people.

    Bookmark   September 7, 2012 at 1:49PM
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renovator8

I have been trying to figure out how a floor was supported and I even had the original structural design drawings. I finally removed some plaster and instead of the double 12" LVL beam, I found an 8x10 wide flange steel beam. If you want to avoid making a dangerous mistake you need to actually see the structure. Any structural engineer will tell you that because they've all had the experience I just had and because of the higher standard of responsibility to which they are held by courts. Never guess about a structure.

    Bookmark   September 8, 2012 at 7:11AM
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brickeyee

" If you want to avoid making a dangerous mistake"

Usually it is far more expensive than dangerous.

Plans must be altered after work has started.

It is one of the millions of reasons cost increase.

    Bookmark   September 8, 2012 at 10:00AM
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