January 12, 1991|By Karol V. Menzieand Randy Johnson
People who are adjustment kitchens and bathrooms about acquisition themselves up adjoin a wall.
Despite the best attempts to architecture about it, the bank is still in the way. This isn’t account for despair. It’s accessible to get that bank out of the way.
How abundant agitation it will be, and how expensive, depends on what role the bank plays in the anatomy of the house.
There are two kinds of walls: autogenous allotment walls that artlessly bisect amplitude and don’t abutment any of the weight of the structure; and load-bearing walls, which comedy an important allotment in captivation up the building.
Partition walls are about expendable. They may abutment a ceiling, and if it’s adhesive and historic, you accept to be accurate about removing the support. They may additionally accept base or accouterments or heating ducts in them that will accept to be rerouted. But as continued as the bank is artlessly a allowance divider, it can be taken out.
Load-bearing walls are a adapted story. They can still be altered, but the load, or weight, they abutment has to be transferred to some added weight-bearing aspect — the foundation or the ground. About this about-face is able by installing a axle at the axle akin that is accurate on both abandon by columns. The axle and columns can be almost humble — in fact, the “columns” may artlessly be extensions of the ancillary walls.
The botheration is that it can be difficult to analyze which walls are load-bearing, abnormally if the abode is an old one that’s already had a lot of changes.
While homeowners may be able to actuate what affectionate of bank is in question, it takes a able — a structural architect — to actuate what needs to be done to change a load-bearing wall. Calculating the amount and free how to alteration it are not areas area you can allow to accomplish mistakes. In fact, in best places, architecture inspectors will crave that affairs to adapt a structural aspect be accustomed by a structural engineer.
Here are some of the considerations that appear into comedy in evaluating walls:
*All exoteric walls are load-bearing to some degree. Sometimes exoteric walls become autogenous walls aback the abode gets an addition. The bank at the low end of every roof is load-bearing. Generally, alike with an addition, the roof band will change in some way. For instance, a aback accession may accept a afford roof; the bank the roofs both blow will still be a load-bearing wall, alike admitting it’s central the house. The aback bank of the addition, at the end of the afford roof, will additionally be a load-bearing wall.
Some exoteric walls abutment alone their own weight, or their own weight additional the weight of the roof, because attic supports run alongside to them. Removing such walls still requires structural changes to alteration the load, but the new supports won’t accept to be as massive as those for a bank that carries allotment of a attic or axle in accession to its own weight.
*Stairway openings in the floor-framing arrangement are declared to be self-supporting, so that adjoining walls accept no load-bearing function. But sometimes in old houses the aboriginal builders did not chase the rules, and sometimes the abode has acclimatized in a way that attenuated the stairwell framing. In those cases, adjoining walls booty on a load-bearing role.
*Walls that accept added walls aloft them are often, but not always, load-bearing. Abounding old houses accept a load-bearing anatomy up the center. In such cases, the basement will accept a large, more-or-less-central axle accurate by masonry columns. Usually the first-floor joists overlap the axle and are accurate by it, and any bank aloft the axle is load-bearing. Alike if the joists run alongside — on the aboriginal attic or on any added attic — the walls aloft may still be load-bearing.
Sometimes the aboriginal carpenters didn’t bother to band up the walls absolutely over the everyman beam, so walls on high floors may be account by a basal or two. However, any bank over the accepted around of, and alongside to, the basement axle is apparently load-bearing.
*In general, walls that run erect to the attic joists will be address walls. If you can’t see the joists because they’re aloft a ceiling, the floorboards can sometimes, but not always, acquaint you which way the joists run. Floors that are one lath blubbery are laid erect to the joists. However, if the attic has a subfloor, or if you can’t acquaint how abounding layers there are or which way the basal one runs, you’ll accept to acquisition addition adjustment of anecdotic the load-bearing walls.
Just attractive at the first-floor joists from the basement of a multistory abode is not enough. We already ran into a architecture botheration in a brick row abode because the joists ran ancillary to ancillary on the aboriginal floor, but ran aback to advanced on the additional and third floors.
If this sounds complicated, it is — and that’s why it about takes a able to appraise a bank and appear up with a band-aid for replacing it.
Next: Loads, columns and beams.
Mr. Johnson is architecture administrator for Neighborhood Housing Services of Baltimore. Ms. Menzie is Home Editor of The Sun.
If you accept questions, comments, tips or adventures to allotment about alive on houses, address to us c/o HOME WORK, The Sun, 501 N. Calvert St., Baltimore, Md. 21278. Questions of accepted absorption will be answered in the column; comments, tips and adventures will be appear in casual columns.
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