How to remove a load-bearing wall will show you the step-by-step process of removing a wall to achieve an open floor plan in your own home. People love the idea that they can be in different areas and yet still enjoy each other’s company. You don’t have to invest in a new home to benefit from having an open floor plan. You can remove walls in your existing home to create your own open floor plan that perfectly suits your style. However, removing load-bearing walls must be done with the greatest care. Here are some things to keep in mind before you take out the sledgehammer and start tearing down walls.
How to remove a load-bearing wall
Consult with a structural engineer and the City
Structural walls carry the weight of the house above them. They prevent your roof from sagging and keep the structure from caving in on itself. A structural engineer can advise you on whether a wall is load-bearing or not, and they can advise you on how to replace the support with the wall removed. Steel beams will be required to support the load and transfer the weight to nearby walls. An engineer can advise you on the proper size beam to invest in.
It’s also important to get official permission before you start making major changes to your home. Even though all the work will be inside your home, you may still have to get a permit. Before signing off on the permit, the inspector will ensure that the new support beam is adequate and properly installed. It’s for your protection. When the time comes to sell your home, potential buyers may recognize that the house has been altered based on similar homes in the area. If the work required a permit and you didn’t pull one, it can cause problems with the sale of your home.
Support options for your load-bearing wall
When a wall is removed, a beam will have to replace it. Steel beams are the strongest, and that is what you should opt for whenever possible. However, you can choose attractive columns to support the beam. If you aren’t interested in columns, then you will have to open the end walls and put a new support inside those walls to carry the weight of your new beam. Depending on the space you open up, you may be required to leave one or more support pillars in place. If you only want a small space opened, consider installing French doors to flood the area with light without removing the entire wall.
Preparing the space before removing a wall
Removing a wall of any kind is messy work. There will be sheetrock or plaster dust, and you are sure to encounter a fair amount of stray nails, splinters and other debris. Protect the rooms on both sides of the wall throughout the process by putting drop-cloths in place. Protect furniture with dust sheets, and remove electronics to keep the dust out of them. You will have gaps in the flooring where the old wall was, so this might be a great time to upgrade your flooring to hardwood or natural stone.
Opening the load-bearing wall
One consideration of removing a wall is dealing with electrical lines that are lurking inside. It may be more exciting to use a sawz-all to start cutting the studs apart, but that creates a dangerous situation if there are plumbing or electrical lines inside. Start by opening the sheetrock on one side of the wall and removing it to expose the hardware inside. Depending on your skill set, you may have to call in a plumber and electrician to relocate the lines before you continue work. However, this is an excellent time to add a few outlets, install a ceiling fan or make other upgrades you’ve been considering.
Putting new supports in place
You do not want to damage your home while the old wall is coming down, so you should have the new supports ready to go as the existing wall is removed. Support the overhead structure by setting up scaffold boards on either side of the wall. The boards should run all the way to the ceiling on each side, allowing you to start removing the structure without fear of damaging the property.
Once the old structure is removed, the new support columns should be set in place. Based on the engineer’s guidelines, you may have to install padstones under the new support columns to strengthen the entire structure. It is also vital that you do not exceed the opening that was approved in your consultation. Overloading a beam can lead to serious structural problems and endanger your family. With the help of friends, lift the new beam into place and set it on the support. You can spare your backs and make the project safer by using special house jacks to safely lift the beam into place. With the new beam safely transferred to the support columns and secured, you can start filling in the openings around the beam and fishing off the project.
Removing a load-bearing wall is a serious undertaking. It should not be attempted without consulting with an engineer to confirm the necessary size on your new beam, how many supports it will require and how far it should overhang the supports for proper strength and balance. However, with the right preparation and consideration, you can remove those walls and create the open floor plan of your dreams. As you work, consider other upgrades that fit nicely with the project and will add value to your home.
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Eric enjoys any type of DIY challenge, whether that is fastening solar panels to a roof or building a new extension. Eric works as a mechanical engineering at Ejot Uk, were he has learn a lot about steel beams and know advises others on DIY Projects in his spare time.