Opening in load-bearing wall

Opening in load-bearing wall

It’s trendy for homeowners to stay in their existing home and improve it, rather than upgrading to a new house.  One of the most popular remodeling projects at the moment is to upgrade and increase the size and openness of the kitchen.  Doing so often results in having to remove or make large openings in load-bearing walls.

Determining which walls are load-bearing can be a bit tricky and it’s always a good idea to consult your architect before attempting this.  The load patterns from the structure above needs to be carefully analyzed.  It’s critical to consider the alignment of walls, etc., as even small offsets can result in not-so-desirable outcomes when the structure below is altered.

wood beam with steel flitch plate

Wood beam with steel flitch plate

It’s common to replace load-bearing walls with new beams and columns, but there are several items to consider before doing so.  For example, walls tend to distribute loads from above fairly evenly along their entire span to the structure below, whereas columns supporting beams place highly concentrated point loads in a single spot resulting in much higher stress on the structure below in specific locations.

So, before removing that wall, it’s important to consider things such as: what’s going on above?  Should snow load and drifts be included when calculating beams, columns, footers, etc.?  How are the loads from above distributed?  How should the structure be adequately supported during the removal of the existing wall and installation of the new structure?

temporary structural support

Temporary Support of Structure

In summary, this is one of those projects where you might want to call in a knowledgeable design professional to help out.  Harmoni Designs are currently involved with several kitchen designs and remodels and would love to assist you as well.

Please contact Harmoni Designs at 216.496.2455 or if you have any questions on how to deal with modifying load-bearing parts of your house or building, or if you are looking for help in designing your dream kitchen.  Have a great day!