What You Need to Know About Load Bearing Walls

Load bearing walls provide critical weight support for your home. However, load bearing walls can also provide a challenge for construction projects, especially home renovations. Thankfully, structural engineers offer the expertise needed to remove load bearing walls that meet your design intent while maintaining the structural integrity of your home.

What are Load Bearing Walls?

A load bearing wall is an essential element of a building or home that carries the weight of all components above the wall. The load bearing wall connects directly to the foundation to transfer the weight of the roof and floors down to the ground through the foundation, ensuring the structural integrity of the building or home.

In a home, load bearing walls run continuous from the foundation to the roof and/or floor framing members. For newer, open floor plan homes, there are often columns in the middle of the open space that provide this load bearing support. All exterior walls are also assumed to be load bearing.

In contrast, non-load bearing interior walls do not provide weight support but instead serve to separate spaces or add design elements. Non-load bearing walls may be removed or altered without affecting the structure.

Why Does Your Home Have Load Bearing Walls?

Structural engineers are involved in the initial design processto ensure structural integrity, including incorporating load bearing walls. Highly skilled structural engineers understand how to incorporate load bearing walls into the overall design to create a design that is both aesthetically appealing and structurally sound.

While load bearing walls may bring frustration to the remodel process, they add a vital element to your home. Remember, removing or moving load bearing walls is not a DIY project. You risk compromising the integrity of your entire home without the expert guidance of a professional.

Why Do You Need a Structural Engineer?

Structural engineers specialize in structural design, including ensuring and adequate load path to distribute weight throughout your  home with the use of load bearing walls. For new construction, a structural engineer offers valuable insight into the design of the foundation and framing. They understand where to place load bearing walls for proper weight distribution.

For remodels and additions, structural engineers review the existing design and create a plan that either works around or moves the load bearing wall. Structural engineers also know when and how to remove a load bearing wall by using an alternative column or beam system.

Do not begin a major construction project, especially a home remodel, without consulting a structural engineer. The safety or your home and family depend on it. A lack of understanding about proper weight supports can cause damage to your home costing thousands of dollars in repairs.

How to Remove a Load Bearing Wall

For the safest and best results, hire a structural engineer to remove a load bearing wall. While most interior home projects don’t require a permit, all structural changes do require a permit. When you work with an experienced structural engineer, they provide the necessary calculations and documentation required for your contractor to pull a permit on your behalf.

The key when removing a load bearing wall is to replace it with an adequate beam or beam and column system. To ensure the proper weight distribution, you need an understanding of structural engineering principles and calculations.

Load bearing beams are heavy. You need the right equipment to secure the beam solidly in place. In addition, the process requires the use of temporary supports. The weight of the home needs support during the process of removing the load bearing wall and installing the new beam.

Often remodeling projects benefit from the removal of a load bearing wall; however, do the job right to ensure the structural integrity of your home. Work with a trusted structural engineering firm to ensure the best results.

Work with the Experts at Russell Rowland

Russell Rowland offers load bearing wall removal and replacement to clients throughout the Southeast. We are Jacksonville, Florida’s trusted structural engineering firm based on our expert knowledge, reliable service, value engineering, quick turnarounds and more.

Contact us today for questions and assistance with load bearing walls and other structural engineering projects.