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  1. #1
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    Nov 2010
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    Default Removal of load-bearing wall with low ceilings

    Hey everyone. I was wondering if you guys could help me with an engineering problem. I've found one other solution but it's going to cost me $16,000 to find out exactly what that solution is. I'd rather do it all myself. Here's the situation:

    My house doesn't have a master bedroom. All our bedrooms are around 10 feet square. The wife and I are feeling a little cramped. We would like to combine two of our bedrooms into a single room. However, the wall(s) between the two bedrooms run perpendicular to the floor joists. The house is about 30 feet wide and the rooms in question are on the second story. There is only attic space above them.

    First, is a support beam needed?

    If so, is it possible to mount this beam above the joists in the attic.

    If so, after I support the beam on the second story, what do I need to do to support the supports on the first story?

    I look forward to hearing from you guys and to checking out the site. Looks like I'm apt to find some great ideas. Thanks.

  2. #2
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    Jun 2007
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    Coventry, RI
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    Default Re: Removal of load-bearing wall with low ceilings

    First question would be why will it cost you $16,000 to find out the answer to your question? You should be able to hire an engineer for a lot less than that or is a contractor telling you the job is going to cost $16,000 and won't tell you what they are going to do unless you sign a contract? If that is the case find a new contractor.

    Is the roof system made of trusses or conventional framing? Is the span you are trying to create the entire 30 foot width of the house? Being that it is the second floor you would be supporting the weight of the ceiling and anything stored in the attic. So if you have conventional framing and you take out a support wall the weight of the drywall or plaster might make the ceiling sag if the joists are not beefy enough. This is where an engineer can tell you exactly what size you need or if you need to add some sort of carrying beam.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Nov 2010
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    3

    Default Re: Removal of load-bearing wall with low ceilings

    Well, maybe I was going for a little more a dramatic effect. My contractor gave me full disclosure of his intentions to install a beam above the ceiling joists to carry the load.

    In answer to your other questions:

    The attic is traditional framing (the central area of the attic is open...if that's what you're asking).

    If I take out the wall in question the room will be open for the entire 30' width of the house.

    I'd rather do this myself, and I think I could as long as I get the engineering right. Would the exterior wall need to be modified to carry the load from a support beam? What kind of support would have to go under the supports I build on the second floor? Would the floor structure on my second story spread the load without modification?

  4. #4
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    Aug 2007
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    Default Re: Removal of load-bearing wall with low ceilings

    Quote Originally Posted by Ozmandium View Post
    Hey everyone. I was wondering if you guys could help me with an engineering problem. I've found one other solution but it's going to cost me $16,000 to find out exactly what that solution is. I'd rather do it all myself. Here's the situation:

    My house doesn't have a master bedroom. All our bedrooms are around 10 feet square. The wife and I are feeling a little cramped. We would like to combine two of our bedrooms into a single room. However, the wall(s) between the two bedrooms run perpendicular to the floor joists. The house is about 30 feet wide and the rooms in question are on the second story. There is only attic space above them.

    First, is a support beam needed?

    If so, is it possible to mount this beam above the joists in the attic.

    If so, after I support the beam on the second story, what do I need to do to support the supports on the first story?

    I look forward to hearing from you guys and to checking out the site. Looks like I'm apt to find some great ideas. Thanks.
    Quote Originally Posted by Ozmandium View Post
    Well, maybe I was going for a little more a dramatic effect. My contractor gave me full disclosure of his intentions to install a beam above the ceiling joists to carry the load.

    In answer to your other questions:

    The attic is traditional framing (the central area of the attic is open...if that's what you're asking).

    If I take out the wall in question the room will be open for the entire 30' width of the house.

    I'd rather do this myself, and I think I could as long as I get the engineering right. Would the exterior wall need to be modified to carry the load from a support beam? What kind of support would have to go under the supports I build on the second floor? Would the floor structure on my second story spread the load without modification?
    If the $16,000 was the price given by a contractor --start to finish --- sounds about right.

    First thing is an engineer has to specify the beam based on calculated loads , wind shears,etc. .
    You will need columns to support the beam. Those columns need to run all the way down to the foundation or their own footings --- which means opening exterior and possibly interior walls.

    The engineer would provide stamped drawings specifying those criterea. Those drawings would then be submitted to the building department when you apply for the permits you will need.
    I say permits because you will have structure likely electrical , plumbing and possibly HVAC which all need to be approved and inspected.

    Regardless if you or a contractor is doing the work the above needs to be done first.

    I don't see the need for fussing with a beam on top of the ceiling joists --- doesn't make sense to me putting extra weight on the joists.
    If you want a flush ceiling then why not go with a flush mount beam and hang the joists off the beam ?

    A 30 ft beam will be verrrrry heavy and awkward to manhandle --- you will need a crew of people to move that into place -- or fly it in with a crane.

    A flush mount beam is the more expensive and labour intensive method.
    With an undermount beam it can be far more cost effective and easier to put into place -- in my opinion more DIY friendly ( depends on skillset ).
    Do you really need to open the whole 30 ft or can you simply open up and install supports in large sections of the existing wall(s) ?

    Believe me you are in for some major work -- far more than 1/2 hour DIY tv shows indicate.
    "" an ounce of perception -- a pound of obscure "
    - Rush

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Nov 2010
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    3

    Default Re: Removal of load-bearing wall with low ceilings

    My ceilings are just short of 8'. I'm 6'2". Technically that gives me around 1'6" of leeway before I start hitting my head on stuff but I'd really rather not give up any vertical space to a beam.

    The house is 30' wide, that is, running parallel to the roof framing. The beam in question would run across the short distance...about 12'.

    Fortunately for me, there is no HVAC or plumbing to reroute...just some electrical which is independent from everything else and can just be removed.

    Thanks for you help everybody...sounds like I need to get in touch with an engineer to assess the situation for me first hand.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Aug 2007
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    Default Re: Removal of load-bearing wall with low ceilings

    Quote Originally Posted by Ozmandium View Post
    My ceilings are just short of 8'. I'm 6'2". Technically that gives me around 1'6" of leeway before I start hitting my head on stuff but I'd really rather not give up any vertical space to a beam.

    The house is 30' wide, that is, running parallel to the roof framing. The beam in question would run across the short distance...about 12'.

    Fortunately for me, there is no HVAC or plumbing to reroute...just some electrical which is independent from everything else and can just be removed.

    Thanks for you help everybody...sounds like I need to get in touch with an engineer to assess the situation for me first hand.
    Yep -- the engineer is the first step.


    Ahhh --- 12 ft -- well at least the beam will be easier to handle with some extra backs and hands..

    I'm 6'4" and haven't had an issue were a beam --- such as would be used in your situation -- would project down further than the top of a doorway. Chances are you'll only have around 10 inches projecting down --- of course that will depend on the beam.
    "" an ounce of perception -- a pound of obscure "
    - Rush

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Mar 2008
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    nova scotia, canada
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    Default Re: Removal of load-bearing wall with low ceilings

    i agree with canuk on this one, this isnt really a diy project, ive done this many times. be it a dropped beam or a flush beam...

    dropped beams are much easier to do as all thats needed is to jack the beam to the underside of the joists then set the jack studs under the beam. NOTE!!!!!! a minumum of 4" bearing for any beam over 7' long so either 3 ply post or 4 ply depending on the engieneer states

    a flush beam is a whle other headache, you need temporary walls on either side then snap lines on the under sides of the joists where they will be cut out, from there the beam set in place... jacked up then you still need to install hangers on the beam to carry the joists
    fire up the saw and make some dust

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