I recently had a project where the client wanted to remove a wood wall between the kitchen and the living room. It seems trendy to make the kitchen open to the living room so this is will be a write up about things to consider when removing a wall. As a structural engineer, before we remove the wall we have to consider if this wall is load bearing and used for seismic/wind resistance. It would be best to have a structural engineer visit the site to determine if the wall is load bearing or not.
Before the engineer visits the site, he would consider three scenarios.
1. The wall is not load bearing- If the wall is not load bearing, this is good news! The wall can be removed and the structure will remain structurally sound. Usually a wall that is not load bearing has open space or a gap above the wall. The wall would be normally supported by metal clips at the top to prevent overturning.
2. The wall is load bearing- If the wall is load bearing, we would normally have to replace the wall with a beam. The beam can bear on a new or existing post or wall. A wall that is load bearing will resist loads from the floor, ceiling or roof. Usually a load bearing wall would have a large beam beneath it or a solid foundation.
3. The wall is seismic/wind resisting - If the wall is used as a seismic/wind resisting element or a shear wall, the engineer would normally replace the wall with a beam or a structural element to serve as a seismic/wind load collector. The load collected would then be transferred into nearby shear walls through mechanical connections with the existing plywood sheathing.
Feel free to ask us if you would like to know more about seismic/wind collectors of if you have any general questions about wall removal.
Thanks for reading!