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Old 02-12-2007, 12:59 PM   #1
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opening through party wall


Hi! I own both sides of a 3-story twin Victorian home of joisted masonry construction. Currently the two sides are connected through the wood-framed back room additions, which was an easy connection to make because it did not involve going through a load-bearing wall. I want to connect the sides further, though--what I want to do is make a large (10' wide) entrance between both dining rooms. This would involve creating a large hole in the party wall, which must be two or three bricks thick. I imagine the way to do so is to cut out a top section of the wall, temporarily support it (and/or the ceiling joists) with a series of jacks, then install an I-beam, then cut out the actual opening, which would be maybe a foot less wide than the I-beam on either side:
_____________
|_____________| <- I-beam
| |
| | <- Opening
| |
| |


I'd like to do this myself, with a housemate. We are both fairly experienced with a wide variety of carpentry and other DIY home improvement stuff, but we've never tried anything like this before. I'd like to talk to a structural engineer, definitely. But I wanted to see if anyone here has any advice, or if this sounds completely insane.

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Old 02-12-2007, 02:17 PM   #2
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Oops, my ASCII drawing didn't really come through...

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Old 02-13-2007, 07:15 PM   #3
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Well, if you are willing to seek the advice and plans of a engineer the idea sounds great, if that person approves!

All though when you are in the middle of it, and the house is making all sort of noises as it settles whilst you are jacking around with the ceiling joist you may think otherwise.

I bet it would cost a fortune to have a contractor do it. But you could get estimates and ask a bunch of "how would you do that" questions....

I would be interested in your ideas as to how you physically go about cutting open the top part of future passageway and supporting it and sliding a beam in there and then supporting that..... cause it would seem that to slide the beam in the opening would have to be open. Unless you meant you would build a support structure on either side of the wall so that you can remove it.....You know like a foot or two away from the wall, catching the last bit of the joists....
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Old 02-13-2007, 07:31 PM   #4
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Edited for clarity... The following pictures show a method I used to raise and support multiple floor joists at once, as soon as the were raised to the appropriate height, I reattached them to the main beam in the house using joist hangers, I was fixing badly sloped floors on the main level. I removed the beams and jacks and screw jacks after I was done, this is not meant to show a permanate solution to any problem.....

This is how I supported some floor joists when I jacked them up to reattach them to the main beam in my basement...
Diagram...

Picture...




One of my concerns during the jacking process...

Was the concrete floor strong enough to prevent the jacks from just breaking through the floor?

For your situation, it would be difficult to know when you have relieved the wall of its duty, meaning how do you know when your new supports are actually working?

Last edited by harleysilo; 02-14-2007 at 06:51 AM.
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Old 02-13-2007, 09:34 PM   #5
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It is doabale. How much room above the proposed door do you have (top of door to ceiling)?
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Old 02-13-2007, 09:45 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by harleysilo View Post
This is how I supported some floor joists when I jacked them up to reattach them to the main beam in my basement...
Diagram...

Picture...




One of my concerns during the jacking process...

Was the concrete floor strong enough to prevent the jacks from just breaking through the floor?

For your situation, it would be difficult to know when you have relieved the wall of its duty, meaning how do you know when your new supports are actually working?

By your pics...it looks like you used PT lumber for this....and the PT looks very wet/damp...

I don't mean to offend, but the licensed GC side of me must say this:

You do realize that this lumber will shrink as it dries and the actual dimensions will be quite different from when you installed????

FWIW: I would Not have used PT lumber for such a structural application (no need for it's use here)....I suggest LVL's for the main carrying beam and concrete filled lalleys for the supports.....

...The supports should also be sitting on a minimum of .... 12" deep concrete footings (under them) .....

Last edited by AtlanticWBConst.; 02-13-2007 at 10:13 PM.
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Old 02-14-2007, 06:48 AM   #7
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Those were a temporary method I used to raise multiple floor joists at one time, i had 4 of thoses lined up down the center of my basement. Once I had all the floor joists, about 23 raised up the 3/4 inch or so that they had setteled over the life of the house I re-hung them with joist hangers, and then re-built the wall that was underneath them.....

I used Pressure treated wood because I intended to use the posts for an outdoor project when I was done...

The orginal construction used 2 nails in the end of each joist, yes 2, so the joists which have a load bearing wall above them, off center of the main beam by 1 ft, had settled causing the upstairs floors to slope.....

I only posted the pics as a suggestion to what the OP could do to support his ceiling on both sides of the opening he intends to make, they would be removed after he puts in his beam.....

Last edited by harleysilo; 02-14-2007 at 06:52 AM.
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Old 02-14-2007, 08:31 AM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by harleysilo View Post
Those were a temporary method I used to raise multiple floor joists at one time, i had 4 of thoses lined up down the center of my basement. Once I had all the floor joists, about 23 raised up the 3/4 inch or so that they had setteled over the life of the house I re-hung them with joist hangers, and then re-built the wall that was underneath them.....

I used Pressure treated wood because I intended to use the posts for an outdoor project when I was done...

The orginal construction used 2 nails in the end of each joist, yes 2, so the joists which have a load bearing wall above them, off center of the main beam by 1 ft, had settled causing the upstairs floors to slope.....

I only posted the pics as a suggestion to what the OP could do to support his ceiling on both sides of the opening he intends to make, they would be removed after he puts in his beam.....


OK...got yah.....That all makes perfect sense to me now....
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Old 02-14-2007, 10:51 AM   #9
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harleysilo: I like your design for supporting the joists. I'm thinking one good modification to it would be another thick beam horizontally on the bottom, to put the jacks on, so that the pressure on the floor would be better distributed. this would maybe be more important in my case, since the floor is more joists, not concrete.
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Old 02-14-2007, 10:54 AM   #10
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tscarborough: The ceilings, I think, are about 9'8-9'10. So there could be almost 3' above the doorway.
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Old 02-14-2007, 11:09 AM   #11
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About supporting the bricks of the top part before and during putting in the I-beam: I imagined a series of small jacks inside the opening, which would be removed in succession as the beam is fit in from one side. This is the part that's the most speculative, I think, where I'd benefit most from an engineer. I don't know if what kind of load that section of the party wall actually carries--it's roughly in the first floor middle of the house, which is 3 stories plus an attic, and 100' deep (ie, the party wall is 100' long, and probably a foot thick). I'm fuzzy on how masonry distributes weight in that situation, so I don't know how much danger there is of the wall actually collapsing in this process.
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Old 02-14-2007, 11:42 AM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by arise View Post
harleysilo: I like your design for supporting the joists. I'm thinking one good modification to it would be another thick beam horizontally on the bottom, to put the jacks on, so that the pressure on the floor would be better distributed. this would maybe be more important in my case, since the floor is more joists, not concrete.

I agree in your circumstance i.e. working a wooden joist floor.

I wish I could offer advice on how to insert said beam without wall crumbling, but i know nothing about that.
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Old 02-14-2007, 03:32 PM   #13
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The area of brick that might fall out (the wall won't collapse), would be a triangle centered on the door and reaching around 8' high if you did nothing but cut the hole and remove the brick. You don't want this to happen, of course. Regardless, that is the amount of weight that you must support, both during and after you cut the hole. Only an engineer can advise you on specific methods to achieve it.
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Old 02-16-2007, 04:33 PM   #14
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Originally Posted by Tscarborough View Post
The area of brick that might fall out (the wall won't collapse), would be a triangle centered on the door and reaching around 8' high if you did nothing but cut the hole and remove the brick. You don't want this to happen, of course. Regardless, that is the amount of weight that you must support, both during and after you cut the hole. Only an engineer can advise you on specific methods to achieve it.
Ah! Yes, that makes perfect sense, but for some reason I wasn't thinking of it that way before.

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