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ikessky 08-24-2009 02:27 PM

Load bearing wall removal options
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I tried getting answers to this over at contractortalk, but was refered over here as I'm not a full time, licensed GC. Anyway, here goes.
I have attached a rough floor plan for your review. Basically, we want to make the wall represented by the red lines into a half wall surrounding the basement stairs. The length of the wall we would be removing is maybe 15'. The roof is a hip roof with regular spliced rafters. In the basement, there is a steel beam running the length of the house, sitting directly beneath the red wall on the right hand side. Therefore, I'm pretty sure that is my load bearing wall. We really don't want to do a beam and header and sacrifice head room. I was talking to my father-in-law and he suggested going into the attic crawl space, cutting an area in the rafters and installing a beam from the end of the house to the hallway (represented by the blue lines) and then using joist hangers to tie the rafters into the beam. We also talked with another family member (who is a general contractor) and he suggested running lvl from the one end to the hallway above the rafters and then tying the rafters into that lvl, which would be easier because I wouldn't have to cut the rafters, provide temporary support inside the house, etc. I could get the lvl up there, tie the rafters into it, and then begin removing the wall. No the question is, do they make some kind of special joist hanger for a beam that is overhead? I did a search and could only come up with standard joist hangers and hurricane/rafter ties. I don't think those would be sufficient, but I'm not sure. Any suggestions? Again, I'm not looking for you to tell me dimensions of the lvl/beam or anything like that. My GC family member will get that for me. I'm just trying to arm myself with some knowledge so I can help him out and not just be in the way.

ARI001 08-24-2009 02:57 PM

The type of beam will have to be determined by a structural engineer. The G.C. does not spec the beam. There are many factors to be considered when specifying the type of beam neccesary and your building department will require an engineers stamp on any documents you submit related to beam size and span. There are hangers available for the application you mentioned. Go to and order a catalog. I would recommend you do some reading on framing and remodeling. If you do not have a strong grasp on basic framing techniques most of what anyone here would try to explain to you would probably be over your head. If you go to your local library you can read some of the back issues of JLC of similar projects that have been completed with pictures that may help clarify things a bit for you. That will get you started. Make sure you build temporary walls to support the loads before you cut anything. Make sure these loads are transfered accordingly.

ikessky 08-24-2009 03:18 PM

The GC may not spec the beam, but I will leave it up to him and his contacts to work out. They been doing this for 30+ years, so I think they will figure something out!
I've worked with them for a couple summers, mostly doing new construction. The remodels I've been involved with have been smaller things like kitchens and smaller odds and ends. I'm not a pro by any means, but I know enough to make things safe and wouldn't risk something like this by myself. I would feel pretty comfortable doing a header and posts under the rafters, but it's not really the look we want. I'll talk to him again about it all and see what he really suggests doing. That's the good thing about have family members who are GC's, but it's also the bad thing. When you aren't paying for the job, it's all in their time frame!

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