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  1. #1
    David Edens's Avatar
    David Edens Guest

    Default Load bearing wall ?

    One of my frequent asked ?'s from clients is about load bearing walls. You know, "which walls can I remove". I look at the attic structure and try to determine if any major beams are being suported and make my conjecture. Sometimes I can't tell. What is the best way to tell or do you defer this question most often? Any advice would be helpful as I am not a licensed framer!

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  2. #2
    Join Date
    Mar 2007
    Location
    Chicago, IL
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    2,797

    Default Re: Load bearing wall ?

    It's a lot easier to determine what's a load-bearing wall than what's not.

    When asked ""which walls can I remove" the furthest I will go - no matter how "obvious" a wall's structural function - is to explain why a given wall is likely load bearing, while also explaining that until a wall is opened it's not possible to be sure of it's structural function, condition, or design adequacy (I've opened too many walls in my reheb career only to discover undersized headers, termite damage, missing studs from previous modifications and the like, or conversely an unexpected steel column carrying loads from above) or what unexpected plumbing, HVAC and electrical may be routed through it.

    Michael Thomas
    Paragon Property Services Inc., Chicago IL
    http://paragoninspects.com

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Mar 2007
    Location
    Tampa, FL
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    44

    Default Re: Load bearing wall ?

    We all get asked that one occasionally. The first thing I do when asked is to set realistic expectations on the part of the client and say something like this-"I understand and I'll try to get to the bottom of that for you. But understand, your question is basically engineering related and outside of the scope of my inspection. It's also important to understand that no structural changes should be made without the approval of a structural engineer".

    Then, take a look at the wall configuration and consider how you would lay it out if you were building it. You'd want to span the ceilings or support the rafters in the shortest distance possible. Most likely, but not always, bearing walls are perpindicular (V parallel) to the rafters and ceiling joists. With this information, when you hit the attic, go to the wall that you think might be logical to be a bearing point. Check to see if joists are laying on top or if raters are supported by it(if ceiling joists are bearing-normally two joists will be there that overlap each other and extend to each side of the spaned distance). If this is the wall the buyer is inquiring about, you're done. If not, go through the same process at the wall they're asking about.

    One more thing, one last time, I make it crystal clear that any structural changes should be made only with an engineers approval.


  4. #4
    Join Date
    Mar 2007
    Location
    Oregon
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    2,365

    Default Re: Load bearing wall ?

    In general, newer houses with trusses often have few (if any) interior bearing walls. Two story houses are much more complex because of the floor and roof load sometimes (usually) passing through the main level in places. A single level newer place would have the greatest chance of having no load bearing interior walls.

    Older places get a bit more complex. When in the attic look for splices or overlapping ceiling joists.

    I'll usually answer that question by giving an opinion but reminding them it's just that, an opinion, and it's not what I do.


  5. #5
    Aaron Miller's Avatar
    Aaron Miller Guest

    Default Re: Load bearing wall ?

    You can move any wall, if you have enough time and money. Load bearing walls in framed roof houses typically have (1) the ceiling joists parallel to them, (2) are supporting some type of roof bracing, or (3) are exterior walls. There are a few other exceptions, but these cover the majority of load bearing walls.

    You can move most of them too without a heck of a lot of trouble, depending of course on the particular circumstances. It is always best though to steer your clients to a structural engineer unless you've done a lot of framing and remodeling.

    Aaron


  6. #6
    Aaron Miller's Avatar
    Aaron Miller Guest

    Default Re: Load bearing wall ?

    Sorry, was eating a sandwich, writing a report and answering this man's question. (1) Should have said ceiling joists perpendicular to them . . .


    Gawd,

    Aaron


  7. #7
    Aaron Miller's Avatar
    Aaron Miller Guest

    Default Re: Load bearing wall ?

    While writing that I dropped my sandwich on the keboard - paradicular to the keys . . .

    Aaron


  8. #8
    Join Date
    Mar 2007
    Location
    Healdsburg, CA
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    1,741

    Talking Re: Load bearing wall ?

    Is that a bearing wall? was an often asked question during the inspection process and I think many times an effort by the husband, boyfriend, father, or even male agent to impress all within earshot of his construction knowhow. My standard reply was I really didnt know and what difference would it make anyway as any wall could be relocated with proper engineering?
    However, sometimes when I was in a silly mood and putting up with a really obnoxious boomer know-it-all Id carefully explain that if they really wanted to move a wall they would need a Karnaris Phistoris partition re-locater along with Swedish built Eskeltuna set-up, which would make it a piece of cake. You should have seen the looks, priceless!

    Jerry McCarthy
    Building Code/ Construction Consultant

  9. #9
    Jim Zborowski's Avatar
    Jim Zborowski Guest

    Default Re: Load bearing wall ?

    paradicular???????


  10. #10
    Join Date
    Mar 2007
    Location
    Philadelphia PA
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    3,177

    Default Re: Load bearing wall ?

    Quote Originally Posted by Jim Zborowski View Post
    paradicular???????
    You know - the opposite of perpallel.


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