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A crazy wall project


jonathan22's Avatar
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05-16-06, 03:44 PM   #1  
A crazy wall project

A friend of mine wanted to undertake an interesting project to his home, in which he would break down the upper half of all the interior walls, or at least as many as were possible. We know nothing about construction and the possible logistics of such a plan, but I was wondering if there were any way possible that this could be done. If necessary, he is willing to leave some gaps of wall extending to the ceiling for support, but any unneeded interior wall would be taken down.

If there is any way this can be done (nevermind the specifics of his home, we are wondering in a general sense for now), what tools/services would we need to use, and what are the logistics that we need to know? Also, are there restrictions on how many stories the building has? His is a two story house, but we were also curious if such a project would be possible in every wall in say a large building.

Thanks very much for your time and help,

Jonathan Perelmuter

 
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nap's Avatar
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05-16-06, 04:04 PM   #2  
This is not a practical idea for many reasons. The most important and totally unable to overcome is structural integrity.

If you attempt this without a structural engineers ok, you may end up with a no level house. If you remove load bearing walls or even weaken them, you can destroy the house.

If you some how overcome this dilemma, you need to realize than hidden in your walls is electrical wiring, plumbing, possibly ductwork for the HVAC system, phone lines, data lines, and whole house vacuum lines (if applicable). While you could remove non-load bearing walls with no real structural effect, these items would have to be re-routed to open the walls.

If you want an open concept home, the best, simplest, and easiest is to build a home with this is mind. With correct engineering you could build a very large home with absolutely no interior walls if you desired.

 
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05-16-06, 05:23 PM   #3  
Hi Nap, I appreciate the quick reply.

Please excuse my ignorance in this topic, but I have a few more quick questions. How do I know the difference between a load bearing and a non-load bearing wall? And is there no chance that we can leave some gaps of wall as support, or construct some kind of pillar instead? And about the wires, would it be possible for all of them to be moved down to the lower half of the wall that's still in tact?

Not that I'm dismissing your suggestion to drop it, but my friend is a bit more stubborn than I, plus I am still quite curious.

Thanks,
Jonathan

 
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05-16-06, 05:52 PM   #4  
Posted By: jonathan22 Hi Nap, I appreciate the quick reply.

Please excuse my ignorance in this topic, but I have a few more quick questions. How do I know the difference between a load bearing and a non-load bearing wall? And is there no chance that we can leave some gaps of wall as support, or construct some kind of pillar instead? And about the wires, would it be possible for all of them to be moved down to the lower half of the wall that's still in tact?

Not that I'm dismissing your suggestion to drop it, but my friend is a bit more stubborn than I, plus I am still quite curious.

Thanks,
Jonathan
It is difficult for a layperson to be sure of the load bearing/ non-load bearing wall status. If you have origianl blueprints, they are often depicted on the print. Other than that, there are typical walls that are LB but depending upon the design of the home, it is very difficult to be sure.

Without engineering knowledge I would not tackle that decision though.

Yes, a load bearing wall could be made as you ask but, the entire wall is part of the load bearing structure. If any part of it is removed, something has to be used to replace it in some way. Typically a LB wall can be replaced by columns supporting a beam. To determine the proper sizing,,,well you get back to the engineer.

Concerning the wires et.al. ; yes most anything can be moved if you are willing to spend the time and/or money. Just imagine that the particlar wall was not designed on the house to start. The wires etc. would still need to be run, they would just be elsewhere.

 
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05-16-06, 09:15 PM   #5  
Opening up a living space is like most things - doable. It all depends on how much money and effort (mostly money) that you are willing to invest. Of primary concern is the structural integrity of the building. You can't just remove walls without knowing exactly what the effect is structurally. Wiring and plumbing are all movable, again just a matter of money and effort.
Non load bearing interior walls can generally be removed without consequence, however removing a load bearing wall could result in your friend wearing his ceiling or roof on his head. Generally, load bearing walls run perpendicular to the houses floor and ceiling joists. Non load bearing walls run parallel to the joists.
Load bearing walls can be removed to open a space, but they must be replaced with structural components to compensate. Usually that is done with an engineered beam or beam and posts. This can be expensive.
Changes to load bearing components should never be done without first getting an engineer's evaluation.

 
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