How To Remove A Load Bearing Wall: Preparation & Execution
Often times, homeowners who own a ranch style home, that has not been renovated, want to update their home to create bigger spaces and better views to the outdoors. The conversation often starts with, "Can I remove that wall to update my home and make a bigger living space?" Rosie's answer is, "yes, with a good engineer and a big enough budget, you can get rid of any load bearing wall."
Ranch style homes were originally introduced in 1930 in California after WWII. Rosie says, "we built a ton of them here in Arizona in the 60's and 70's. When you walk in the front door you are greeted with the family room and living room usually divided by a wall creating 2 medium size spaces. For homeowners who are looking for larger, airy rooms with more light, removing that wall is a great way to update a home."
Is It Load bearing?
The first question, when considering the removal of a wall should be, "is it load bearing?" If it is a ranch style home, you can assume that it is.
In the 60's homes were not generally built with roof trusses as they are now. Conventional framing was used and relied on that center wall for support.
In conventional framing, the ceiling joist rests on the outside walls of the house as well as the center wall in the house. The center wall carries a considerable amount of weight and usually has a member or two tied vertically to the rafters.
During construction a trench in the concrete floor was usually created where the wall would be placed. This offered the interior wall linear support.
Shifting the Load
When the wall is removed, it will be replaced with a horizontal beam, which will be supported at each end by a vertical post. These posts carry the concentrated load of all the ceiling and roof weight.
This project definitely requires permitting. The permit will dictate that a construction engineer is consulted to ensure that the replacement posts and beam are sufficient to hold the weight that is being displaced by the removal of the wall.
Removing A Load Bearing Wall, The Right Way:
- To shore up the wall, temporary walls are built on either side of it to hold up the ceiling while the wall is being is removed.
- Plastic is secured on the outside of the shoring walls. This creates a work corridor that completely controls the dust.
- The interior wall is removed. The sheet rock in the area above the wall is pulled down to reveal the ceiling joist. This is very messy. Everything in the corridor will be covered in drywall dust and dirty, old insulation.
Create A Footing:
- The floor is saw cut to create rebar reinforced footing.
- The concrete is removed, and the footing is measured and excavated.
- The area is treated for termites.
- The footing is reinforced with rebar and post base fasteners are set in the concrete pour.
- The two posts are set in place.
Whether or not the beam is exposed is a matter of preference. Some homeowners really like the look of the exposed wood. It does cost a bit more to recess the beam.
- Beam Exposed | A beam is attached to the bottom of the joists. This beam will be exposed when the drywall is replaced. It can be stained or painted to accent the room.
- Beam Hidden | If it is preferred that the beam is hidden, the ceiling joist will be cut just enough to slip the beam up so that it will be flush with the ceiling. Ceiling joists must be anchored to beams with appropriate hardware.
Checklist For Finishing The Job:
- Insulation | Any insulation that came down with the drywall in the ceiling will need to be replaced.
- Electrical Work | Replace and update.
- Install new outlets to accommodate new layout and to compensate for those that were removed with the wall.
- New lighting scheme to enhance the updated work
- Floor Covering | It can be hard to match the existing flooring, requiring that the entire room be redone.
- Drywall | The area where the wall was attached to the ceiling will need to be drywall patched and textured.
- Paint | The whole ceiling will need to be repainted. If the room is due for painting this would be a good time to go freshen the paint scheme.
- Plumbing | If there is natural gas piped to the house through the attic, it may need to be moved.
- Professional Cleaning | A professional cleaner will have the equipment needed and the expertise to perform a thorough clean up after construction is complete.
- AC & Air Duct Cleaning | While you are at it, add a duct and AC cleaning to remove dust that might have gotten into the ducts from the jackhammering and saw cutting.
Enjoy Your New Space:
"There you have it!", says Rosie. "Bada Bing Bada Boom!" Homeowners who have chosen to take the wall out are generally elated! The new room can be enhanced with an upgraded entertainment center, larger sitting or gaming areas and flexibility for different functions.
Congratulations! - You are going to love your new space! If you are ready to get started removing a wall, be sure to reach out to the best of the best: Rosie on the House Certified General Contractors & Remodelers
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