opening space between living and kitchen by removing loadbearing wall

rjlackeyJanuary 2, 2014
Ranch style home built in mid 1960s. originally had one solid wall between livingroom and kitchen but we cut a doorway in one end a few years ago, now we want to open it completely up to make the space feel bigger but the wall is loadbearing.
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Would most likely require support beams with additional cost. Consult a builder or engineer.
    Bookmark   Thanked by rjlackey    January 2, 2014 at 5:52PM
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Hire a construction engineer to determine what size joist you'll need to make that possible.
    Bookmark   Thanked by rjlackey    January 2, 2014 at 5:56PM
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Julie Smart Koob, REALTOR
When we planned our addition, we removed the rear wall of the house and the county required plans drawn and stamped by an engineer certifying them. Guess they didn't want the liability if the house fell down, LOL. Anyway, we had some engineered beams, in addition to two pieces of steel sandwiched in to give me the openness I wanted. Here are some pics during construction.
1 Like    Bookmark   Thanked by rjlackey    January 2, 2014 at 6:33PM
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Julie Smart Koob, REALTOR
Oops, forgot this one. You can kind of see at the bottom how the steel is sandwiched between the wood.
1 Like    Bookmark   Thanked by rjlackey    January 2, 2014 at 6:34PM
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those pics are very helpful! thanks!
1 Like    Bookmark   January 2, 2014 at 6:37PM
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Studio M Engineers
I am a structural engineer (new to Houzz) and just wanted to pitch a couple of comments in.

The building departments typically assume no responsibility. They review everything that gets built, so in order to avoid a lawsuit every 30 days, they take the side of complete amnesty. They can't afford not to.

They still inspect and review, but if something goes wrong or is undersized, the responsibility lands squarely on the builder.

The plates that Mrs. Koob mentioned, are built into a field built, laminated wood beam and are called flitch plates and are one of many, many ways to make that work. You have to bolt them off at a frequent bolt spacing. In other words they don't just slide in and span end to end. The connect to the wood members in order for the assembly to work as a whole.

The structural element that spans this opening is commonly referred to as a beam.

Wall removal needs to be looked at not only from a local view point (remove wall, insert beam), but also from a global stability standpoint. Does the wall provide lateral resistance (support against the wind or earthquake)? Some walls support both gravity and lateral loads.

Now that you have a new beam, that spans farther, you also have much heavier loads at the beam end. Are you properly supported for these new loads? Do you have continuous load paths to the foundations?

How do you remove the wall without your house falling down? Shoring (building a temporary structure to hold your house up) quickly becomes an issue.

And finally, what type of look do you want? Do you want to see the beam? Can you flush it into the floor system and get the clean look (no reveal)?

So in short, the size and look of the beam usually starts with the question "what do you want to see for the end product". After that, an engineer will 'load track' your house with loads specified by the building department, and safely establish the structure needed to give you more 'room' and less 'wall'.

Best of luck.
2 Likes    Bookmark   Thanked by rjlackey    January 2, 2014 at 10:14PM
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Your contractor should consult with a structural engineer. How about a counter space over lower cabinets (open breakfast bar idea) between two support columns but open doorway at either end? Smaller support beams = lower cost. Gives an open feel with out sacrificing structure.
    Bookmark   Thanked by rjlackey    January 2, 2014 at 11:58PM
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