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thinkfuture 10-30-2012 12:21 PM

Opening up Family Room & Kitchen
I'm new to this forum & we are looking to purchase a House built in 1969.

The House has a Great 36X17 Family room, only first floor (No rooms on top). This was an addition to the rear of the building.
We would like to open the wall from Dining & Kitchen area & create an open floor plan with an island for the kitchen.

Would it be possible to remove the 36' Load bearing wall & replace with a supporting beam. Can you please recommend what kind of beam (Steel?)
From a construction point of view, what would it cost to get this done by a contractor?
I'm a handy guy, but want to weigh in the options.
Any help would be greatly appreciated.

joecaption 10-30-2012 12:29 PM

There's 0 way anyone on the internet is going to be able to tell you if it can be done, how it needs to be done or what it's going to cost.
First your going to have to hire an engineer to look it over size the beams and how to support it.
Then your going to need a permit to do it.

thinkfuture 10-30-2012 12:33 PM

Thanks Joe. But I would like to know if this is even a possibility & if anybody has replaced a 30' structural wall with a beam.
Any structural engineers in our area (North Suburbs of Chicago) that can be recommend?

joecaption 10-30-2012 12:37 PM

It's been done many times, but every house is differant. Someone would have to be on site.
Do not just count on some contrators word on this one. Way to much at risk.

GBrackins 10-30-2012 01:17 PM


to answer your question, yes it can be done ...... now whether or not you'll like the way it would have to be done or the cost is another issue.

you did not state whether you would allow any columns to support the beam or not. typically the longer the beam span the deeper the beam. the deeper the beam the more the cost. make sense?

there is no way for anyone on a forum to determine the size of the beam or the construction of the beam (structural composite, steel, solid sawn). the reason no one can do this online is because it requires an evaluation of your existing structure, to determine the direction of floor joists and roof rafters and where these loads are transferred through the structure down to the foundation. if the second floor joists are resting on the wall where you want the beam the more load the beam must support. likewise, if the roof rafters bear upon the wall where you want the beam the more load the beam must support. make sense?

if you desire to open this wall up you would need to contact a local professional engineer that specializes in building construction. they would be able to come to your home and perform an analysis of your structure, plus they would be familiar with the building codes you must comply with. they would be able to investigate your existing construction to determine the proper size beam, methods of transferring the load to your foundation and prepare stamped drawings that you would not only need for the building permit, but for your builder to know how to properly perform the construction.

I myself would not recommend this as a DIY project. A little mistake on your part could create a partial/total collapse of your home. To me not worth the potential of saving a little in costs. Plus I would doubt your insurance would cover this unless you are a licensed builder.

And only you can judge if the total cost is worth what you would get in return.

I know this didn't provide you with the size of beam you'd need (do not think away would attempt to do so on here) but hopefully I have pointed you in the direction you need to follow. One last thing, if you ask long enough and on enough websites you'll get someone that will spec out a beam for you. Of course you do not know them, their level of knowledge or experience. You have to ask yourself one question, "Are you willing to bet your family's safety and your financial investment on someone you do not know or trust?"

Good luck! :thumbsup:

thinkfuture 10-30-2012 01:49 PM

I completely respect & agree to your point of view. This is not a DIY, but I'm looking at myself just as a helping hand. I would certainly bring in a structural engineer to get this validated & planed.
I'm more curious to know what would be a ball park figure to tackle a project like this & other ideas to see if interim beams (few supporting pillars in between 30' horizontal beam) would lower the cost. Rather than understanding with someone paid by the hour,
I would like to limit my questions to him by understanding options to save money.

ddawg16 10-30-2012 02:25 PM

Think....once you have been here for awhile, you start to understand why $$ is a sore subject....too many variables.....

With that said....yes, it is possible.....but as everyone has pointed out, without an engineer to look at it, no real way to give you an idea of could be $10K....or up to $50K....

The support beam is the least of your worries...for the most part...that is cookie cutter engineering....the bigger issues are your foundation....what is below where the support posts would be? It might be necessary to cut a hole in your foundation and pour a big pad. And with any load bearing wall replacement...there is the issue of support while you install the new beam....depending on your layout, where do you put the temp supports?

And that is just the tip of the problems....

So, without being on site to see everything....there is no real way to give you or anyone else in a similar position a price.

Good luck.....and stick around....there are going to be plenty of other issues with your house that we can help you with.

GBrackins 10-30-2012 03:21 PM


I know you wanted an island. you could use columns on the ends of the island. this would reduce the span of the beam (and may reduce costs) and provide an architectural feature. could build a soffit box over the island with recessed lights.

until the engineer determines what is needed to be performed pricing is all a guess. as I am fond of saying when people ask me for a ball park figure I tell them Fenway (go Sox) is a ball park and so is Yankee Stadium (boo), but there sure is a big difference in size. The same with your project. As dawg said, may be a little, may be a lot. it's all a guess without a plan.

Explain to the engineer your concerns about cost, and give them your budget (how much you can afford to spend). They may be willing to come to your site for an initial consult without a fee (make sure to ask that question). Depending on the analysis of your home (where loads bear and transferred) it may not be an overly difficult project. If neither the second floor or roof bear upon the wall you want to remove it becomes a lot simpler. Simpler usually equates to less money.

it is more involved that just sizing a beam, you have to transfer those loads to the ground (hopefully your foundation is such it can be used). it also depends on what else you want to do with the space (finishes, etc.).

Good luck!

thinkfuture 10-30-2012 03:26 PM

Thanks. I'm very impressed with all the helpful comments I got & this quickly. This forum seems very nice.

Lame question? In order to find an Engineer do I contact the county / city for recommendations or Does anybody know of a local Engineer who will do some consultation for me.

GBrackins 10-30-2012 03:34 PM

thank you for the kind comments in regards to the forum. there are some very knowledgeable and experience members on here and I enjoy being a part of the forum.

it can be tricky sometimes asking government officials about recommendations ..... they don't want to accused of playing favorites. it's worth a call though, just ask them do they know of engineers that work on residential structures. talk with friends and family, sometimes they've had to hire an engineer.

Again you want a professional engineer experienced in structures not septic systems. Both are professional engineers just different disciplines.

if it's someone you do not know ask for references and call them ..... most important question, after working with the engineer would they hire them again? if not, why?????? somethings people do not like the solution even when it is the most viable solution because it's not what they want. sometimes you can't have what you want (not at the money you want to spend).

I find it's especially good if they will come to your site for an initial consult and see what they say. do they see what you want to accomplish, do they provide any suggestions?

Post back with any questions.

Good luck!

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