Question about houses

Discussion in 'Homesteading Questions' started by mamahen, Feb 1, 2005.

  1. mamahen

    mamahen Well-Known Member Supporter

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    This is for anyone that has built or remodeled a house. How do you know which wall is a "load bearing" wall?

    We have a 20x24 house, all four rooms on the first floor are equal in size, meaning the bathroom is the same size as the kitchen. :rolleyes:

    The living room has 4 door ways & the stair way in it. It is very cramped. I would like to open it up. Make a half wall in the kitchen thru to the living room, & take out the wall between the kitchen & dining room.

    The house is 1 1/2 stories.

    This is the first floor: ____________________________
    | |
    | | | | | bath | | living |
    | | | |
    |_____________|__| ________|
    | | |
    | | |
    | dining kitchen |
    | | |
    |_____________|_____________|

    It's hard to draw on here, I left out some door ways. The roof runs horizontal to the rooms.

    Ok, after I viewed my post, the dashes & lines are all over the place, I don't know what happened?

    Any ideas? I need to "persuade" dh that it was "his" idea first! We are also building a new addition, this year hopefully. It will be the whole living room & kitchen side. I believe 14 ft by 20 ft. My new living room!! :worship:
     
  2. Cyngbaeld

    Cyngbaeld In Remembrance Supporter

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    You need to look at the joists in the first floor ceiling. The load bearing walls will be at right angles with the joists. If you need to take out a load bearing wall, put a beam up BEFORE taking out the wall.
     

  3. uncle Will in In.

    uncle Will in In. Well-Known Member Supporter

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    If you can't tell from downstairs, you might be able to tell by looking at the upstairs flooring. If you can see the nails in the floor, they are into the joists. If it has a board floor up there, the boards are crossways of the joists. A center wall holds up the ends of the joists. Once you know which way they run you know which wall is holding up the ends of them. As said before, A beam can be installed under them to take the place of a loadbearing wall.
     
  4. Cosmic

    Cosmic Well-Known Member

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    You actually start in the basement if there is one. Most houses will have a center beam and some support column(s) spaced along / under that. The cavet will be if the house was built with a steel support beam, doesn't sound like yours is. A steel support center beam usually will have no supporting piers / columns, etc, is why it is normally used.

    Basically most houses are too wide for the allowable span that the height of the floor joists used will permit. There is a table of allowable span in length based on type / size/ etc of joist used. Hence why those main support beams and columns are usually used.

    The outside walls are load bearing up their entire vertical height, the interior walls setting directly over top of the center support beam are load bearing. Most other interior walls are not. You must understand the house and how weight is transferred to the walls, beams, supports, columns, etc that support it. If an interior walls simply acts to divide up space (as most do) they are not load bearing and can be removed / modified / repositioned. The sort of tricky ones are those involved with hallways, stairs and the like. They may be load bearing but do not appear to be directly over the main support beam.

    In general load bearing interior walls will run in the same direction as the main support beam in the basement. Same deal if you have a crawl space, must understand the pier / post system and which interior walls are being directly supported by them.

    Easy for someone who does remodel / construction work to just look at and say, this is load bearing, this is not. If you are confused best to talk to someone local and have them look at your particular house. The usual trick is understand how that main support beam was done and what interior walls it is carrying directly / indirectly.

    Interior load bearing walls can still be opened up, (as well as external ones) it is a process of building a post and beam support system equal to what the wall used to support to replace the wall structure. The one big no-no is never take down a load bearing wall even to install a beam / post system without having a suitable temporary supporting system in place before / while the work is being done.

    Usually will require a permit and some supervision if messing with load bearing walls. Non-load bearing interior walls are routinely moved or removed on retro projects. No prior preparation is required, just knock them down.
     
  5. jack_c-ville

    jack_c-ville Well-Known Member

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    A lot of good information here already, but I will also add that loadbearing walls have (or should have) double top plates while partition walls have single top plates. I guess it's just a final thing to check once you've already pulled down the drywall and are about to take the wall apart..

    -Jack
     
  6. wy_white_wolf

    wy_white_wolf Just howling at the moon

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    Actually this went away with th advent of the 92 5/8 stud.
     
  7. Cosmic

    Cosmic Well-Known Member

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    Most of your standard homes are very straightfoward. There are some areas where you can get badly burnt. Even the pro(s) can be snookered.

    Mostly occurs in the manufactured or tract type housing. Things like an interior wall, maybe a closet that appears to be well out in the span and normally would be non-load bearing. Rather innocent looking.

    In a number of situations, they are acting like "Piers" and are supporting "Crippled" joists. It is a way of saving a few dollars and in some of creating a "Void Space" that is used to run ducting, utilities, etc in a very free routing manner that saves even more money, labor, time, etc. They drop or suspend a section of ceiling with hangers and you never have a clue once the skin is on and everything is nicely finished.

    Basically they undersize a section of joists and do two mini-spans with say 2" x 6" when 2" x 12" are used in the main body of the level. Nothing shoddy, a form of good engineering and money saving techniques. Multipled over many homes is super good business practice. This innocent looking interior wall is the support structure to make it all work. All makes sense the first time around.

    Attempt to change it in a refit and it can become a nightmare. Some experienced people might not even appreciate the purpose of what was done and how difficult it is to change.

    Part of the reason, most places are going to have a set of drawings on file of homes as built and require permitting processes to change. You do want to be aware of potential traps when planning on changing a structure. The other thing to bite you is many people assume the wall they want to remove will be empty. Might be full of wiring, plumbing or even heating and other utilities and quickly becomes a far bigger job than anticipated. Some heating systems may not work correctly if major rerouting changes are made. It can be a case of bad choices, the best of which may be flawed. Drains, vents, water lines, not what you want to find. Best to be really checking out that can be known in the basement / attic, etc of what is coming thru that area.

    It is best to have the plans as built before doing any work in a major way. The building dept should be happy to allow you access to their files. Always must be wary things are not what they seem on some occasions. Measure twice, cut once in many sense of the word is the wise approach. ;)

    Something to be done with care, a bit of caution and lots of planning. When it goes wrong, usually continues to be just horrible. In many cases you want experienced eyeballs checking it out first. The Bro-in-Law may not be the best judge of the scope of what you are getting into. :D
     
  8. mamahen

    mamahen Well-Known Member Supporter

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    My husband is a very good all around builder & construction guy.

    BUT, after my cousin-in-law (who does this for a profession), took out an interior wall to open up HIS kitchen & found the next morning that his ceiling had sunk at least 4 inches! He didn't think he had to support the ceiling overnight! I knew you had to support interior load-bearing walls, why the heck did he think he could wait?

    I will pass along advice.

    I believe that the load bearing walls are in the kitchen & bathroom, plus along the stair way to the upstairs. Thanks for the info!

    The house was built in the 40's, as sort of a "let's hurry up and build" house. The original house had burnt to the ground, so materials were salvaged & borrowed & rough-cut lumber was used also. It's double boarded & triple crooked!! :rolleyes: The existing dry-wall (I believe it's the original), bows VERY badly through out the house. Floors are crooked (we are jacking them), and nothing measures straight! I can't wait to gut these rooms!!

    thank you everyone!! Tricia
     
  9. buttercup

    buttercup Well-Known Member

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    how do you fix a crooked floor? doesn;t that require a new foundation?

    BC
     
  10. desdawg

    desdawg Well-Known Member

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    Load bearing walls run parallel to the ridge line of your roof. If walls are at a 90 degree angle to the roof ridge they are partitions. BTW, I double top plate all walls and log cabin them at the intersecting corners.
     
  11. Darren

    Darren Still an :censored:

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    The stairway to the upstairs will probably be parallel to the floor joists in the first floor ceiling. Load bearing walls will probably be those perpendicular to the stairway. It doesn't have to be that way, but that would provide the strongest structure and lessen the lumber costs by avoiding the need to buy joists long enough to span from outside wall to outside wall.

    The opposite could be true if there's a wall behind the stairwell. In that case the stairwell walls could be load bearing and the floor joists would be perpendicular to the stairwell. The other interior walls would not be load bearing. The idea of using nails to locate the joists or a stud finder would settle the question.
     
  12. Cosmic

    Cosmic Well-Known Member

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    That is true but not always. You really must understand any particular house and what the design objective were. There can be many grey areas or exceptions. The normal older houses that had one bath and the plumbing in a tower arrangement bath over kitchen tended to be very straight forward.

    The ones to watch out for are the older homes built sort of like modern ones with many baths and those are distributed laterally thru out the house, plus all sorts of things like large walk in closets. They can be real foolers. You either need to be really open up the interior skin to see exactly what is going on or have the plans as built. You have to be able to see what is spanning what and what is carrying what. Either on paper or in the flesh. The top plates really don't tell you much, must understand what is carrying what and exactly in what manner.

    Plus you can get into trouble in houses like mine. Between my kitchen and dining room is an interior wall 90 degree to the roof ridge and main cellar support beam. People automatically say non-load bearing. Not so. The trick is you must understand the orginal builders sistered up the joist under that wall triple to make it into a beam for a reason. The chimney goes up in that area and a rather complex box out system to allow that run thru all levels. That interior wall acts to stiffen up the structure and probably is critical to how load is shared and distributed over the joists in that area. Remove that wall and you have weakened the structure in a major way.

    My neighbors house is identical to mine, down to the last stick. He removed that wall, his brother is a contractor. The brother would have missed how complex that wall is, if I had not pointed it out. He did build in the proper post / beam to replace the wall. He never checked in the basement and after my needling, required some convincing. I had my house completely apart in those areas and ran plumbing thru that wall and understood what the original builders where concerned about. Is it technically load bearing, you can argue and quibble, remove it without subsitute support and can be in the deep chits quick.

    One thing to do automatically before assuming anything is to do a full investigation in both the attic and basement in the area you plan to change. Looking for what I just described. Something out of the ordinary, plus any clues as to what might be running thru those walls. Nothing beats having the actual plans and understanding why they are built in the manner they are.

    I would say when in doubt treat it as load bearing and build according. The original poster is saying the house in question is basically jury built. Double reason to use super caution. Must understand what is either failing or was flawed, lacking or screwed up in the original version. Usually starting with the soundness of foundation / footing / support systems. You can make a bad situation a disaster. :D
     
  13. bethlaf

    bethlaf Homegrown Family

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    check the floor joists, load bearing walls can go with or across floor joists so thats not a good clue,
    my suggestion is to put up a header no matter what, thats the safest way, your home;s original construction being what it is, its better to err on caution than tears later when the house sags
    ... have you thought of simply adding a pass through window, rather than removing a wall?
    look at the top and sides of the door way framing, if its framed double, its load bearing, and shoud be replaced wiht a load bearing beam