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Old 09-22-2008, 01:25 AM   #1
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Removing a portion of a load-bearing wall


I would like to remove 2 studs from a load-bearing wall to achieve a 34" high x 46" wide recess in one of the walls in my bedroom in which I want to place a feature art piece. I am positive this is a load-bearing wall as it spans the length of my apartment. Ceiling height is about 8 feet and the opening will start about 41" above the floor. I will be leaving one side of the drywall (room-side) and mudding-in the opening. I would like to know what re-enforcement I should be adding in-lieu of what I will remove. Can I just double up the 2x4's adjacent to the opening? I do plan on box-framing the opening in since I will be putting in drywall pieces and corners for a nice finished look. The top will also have a cove reveal that hides a few puck lights to wash the recess with light. These lights do not require a recess and can be mounted directly to the bottom of a 2x4 header that I was planning to span across the top. I was also planning on leaving the remaining bits and tying that all into the box-frame with hangers. I do have a couple jacks I can use under the floor joyce - wall intersection to take on the weight while I put in the re-enforcement. Any pointers or guidance would be greatly appreciated.

Regards,

Jeff

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Old 09-22-2008, 04:21 AM   #2
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Removing a portion of a load-bearing wall


Jeff,

Alcoves as you describe can look great.

You mentioned apartment "load-bearing" separation wall.

Have you discussed your plan with the owners of the apartment complex? Or if this is a condo that you own, reviewed your plan with the association?

This is probably a fire rated wall also.
Do you know how the wall is constructed?

What floor are you located on and how many floors in the building?

All things are possible. In Florida this would require a permit and a contractor.

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Old 09-22-2008, 10:21 AM   #3
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Removing a portion of a load-bearing wall


I did ask the strata about this type of interior alterations, and they said that it has been done, and they want to see an engineering assessment before construction. This is fine by me, but I wanted to collect as much information as possible before talking to anyone so that I can make a decision on whether to proceed with this alteration. The wall in question is the front wall of the bedroom which separates the living room and the bedroom and also contains the bedroom door on one side. I have removed one side of the wall to see how it is put together and it looks very standard. 2x4 studs, 16" on center, no insulation. There are a few electrical runs but they are not in the area I would like to cut out. I am on the 3rd Floor of a 4 story complex. There is one suite directly above me.
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Old 09-22-2008, 11:14 AM   #4
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Removing a portion of a load-bearing wall


Jeff, this is sounding very "do able".

Both sides of this wall are in the interior space / not outside wall or wall common to another apartment...Right?

I assume you will call in a structural Engr to provide sealed drawing suitable for permit.

The Engr may need to look at the top plate / the apartment above and the one below / as built plans would also be a help. The more you help them the lower the fee. My fee guess is about $ 250-350.

The Engr will tell you what you will need in the way of a header to redirect any load from above and how to support it.

Be sure you give them your desired inside finished dimensions of the alcove you want. Also sketch out the valance area for the lighting you wish to conceal.

You may need to plan on hiring an electrician for the lighting.
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Old 09-22-2008, 11:28 AM   #5
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Removing a portion of a load-bearing wall


There's more to be considered than structure here...

In fire rated multi-family construction, all bearing walls that support other floors or rated structural elements (rated floor/ceiling above, etc) must have an equivalent fire rating as the assemblies being supported. That means that if the floor above your apartment is a 1 hour rated assembly, the interior wall supporting it must also be protected with a listed 1 hour rating.

Failure to protect the bearing assembly from fire can result in compromising the structure above in the event of a fire.

Fire assemblies are not simply accomplished by sheetrocking a wall. The listings for fire assemblies are reliant on a multitude of things, including stud size, stud orientation and spacing, rock thickness, fasteners, insulation/rock wool, and firesealing any penetrations vertically through the assembly.

The only possible way that this can be done correctly is to install a header over the niche, and wrap it and its supporting wall studs in an equivalent fire rated assembly (probably 5/8" type X rock). After the fire assembly is completely wrapped, the niche can be framed and sheetrocked.

If an engineer simply looks at the structural ramifications, he's negligent, and is leaving himself (and you) open to liability.
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Old 09-22-2008, 12:01 PM   #6
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Removing a portion of a load-bearing wall


KCTermite is right on.

Jeff, This is why you need to provide your required finished opening size to the Engr.

So the Engr. can design in the required steps to be taken to provide the fire rating required and leave you with the dimensions you need to display the art.
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Old 09-22-2008, 12:50 PM   #7
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Removing a portion of a load-bearing wall


Yes both sides of this wall are in my apartment. I see no such fire materials or any thing special in this wall. I have the entire one side of the wall off with the framing exposed. It is all std 2x4 construction, with 1/2" gyp on each side with the studs going up to the . No insulation, so special wrapping, nothing. The studs attach to the top plates with just regular hanger brackets. The building is about 23 years old.
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Old 09-22-2008, 02:19 PM   #8
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Removing a portion of a load-bearing wall


Quote:
Originally Posted by jeffsani View Post
Yes both sides of this wall are in my apartment. I see no such fire materials or any thing special in this wall. I have the entire one side of the wall off with the framing exposed. It is all std 2x4 construction, with 1/2" gyp on each side with the studs going up to the . No insulation, so special wrapping, nothing. The studs attach to the top plates with just regular hanger brackets. The building is about 23 years old.
Sounds like just about every rated wall I've ever seen. There's nothing that would necessarily indicate that it is a fire rated wall, but I assure you that it most likely is.
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Old 09-22-2008, 06:05 PM   #9
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Removing a portion of a load-bearing wall


Jeff,

I smell about $ 475 to $ 700 in cost with you doing framing, drywall, & paint.

Let us know if you need more info.

PS I hope the art you want to feature is a step above Elvis on black velvet.

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