Be Careful with Removing Walls Inside Your House

Unsafe building signGiven the fact that these days open floor plans are the craze everyone seems to fully embrace, if you are someone who has an older looking home then it’s time that you start tearing down your interior walls in order to bring it in line with today’s interior design trends.

However, before you start knocking them down, you need to make sure that none of them are load bearing, since this is not only going to make the project dangerous, but also illegal. To avoid such dangerous and unpleasant surprises, you may want to consider getting in touch with an experienced structural engineer prior to starting work on the project. He’s going to confirm whether the walls you want to knock down are indeed load bearing or not.

Also, keep in mind that homeowner’s insurance doesn’t cover a roof or a second floor collapse because of the homeowner’s desire to remove walls that basically hold up the house.

Non-load vs. load bearing walls

Be Careful with Removing Walls Inside Your HouseIf you don’t know what these walls actually are, well, you should know that they are the ones that hold up the home’s upper floors and are vital horizontal bracing members.

A non load bearing wall on the other hand is meant to either design a division or create privacy in a room. Keep in mind that while some walls may not be load bearing, they could be hiding HVAC vents, plumbing, or electrical cables and removing them would be very hard if you don’t are-route these elements.

Click for explanation on: “Non-load bearing wall

Wall removal considerations

Most of the times, if you want to remove non-structural walls, this can be easily done without having to worry about reinforcing the building’s roof or floors in any way. On the other hand, if you want to make a hole in a load bearing wall, then you need to make sure that the load is going to be transferred around the proposed gap. How can you do this? Well, you can install a header below the roof structure or below the joists and make sure to also run supports on both ends of the header down to the load bearing member.

There are cases when having a header at the top of the doorway can be easily avoided if you go ahead and use joist hangers in order to install the header in-line with the joists. This type of installation though is a bit more difficult to consider and it’s going to work only if the rim joist that you have to install is smaller than the lumber used for the joists. These modifications are not recommended to be performed by homeowners due to obvious reasons and that is why you need to make sure you hire an experienced and licensed contractor to handle it.

Collapsed building

How to verify if a wall is load bearing?

Before removing a wall, you need to properly assess whether it’s load bearing or not by contacting a structural engineer. Keep in mind that even if you have walls that were not meant to be load bearing, they could become load bearing by removing other walls in your house. Below you’ll find a few steps you can consider in order to assess whether a wall is load bearing or not. As a tip, remember that none of these are universally valid, so proper structural assessment is vital.

Click for explanation on: “How to spot load bearing wall

Signs the wall is load bearing:

  1. Openings in the wall or doorways feature large headers that support the gap over the door.
  2. There’s a big wood top frame member on the wall.
  3. The wall is perpendicular to the floor joists.
  4. The wall sits on a steel beam.
  5. The wall was once an external wall, but by addition, it was turned into an interior wall.
  6. The wall is an external wall of your property.

Signs the wall isn’t load bearing:

  1. You notice no mechanism on the wall that would transfer weight to the structure beneath.
  2. The wall is a half wall.
  3. It runs parallel to the floor joists.

Given the fact that you now know how to identify whether a wall is load bearing or not, what do you think about your project? Would you still want to remove the walls from your house in order to redistribute the space or not?