Ask Jake: Working Around Load Bearing Walls

 Jake,

I want to make a large opening between my kitchen & dining room. I do not want to tear down the whole wall. Does it matter if this is a load bearing wall? I'm also worried about electrical wires. My husband is a good handyman, but do you think he should tackle this job?

-Hilda

Hilda,

Yes, it does make a big difference if the wall is a load bearing wall. If the wall is perpendicular to the floor joists below and the overhead joists, then there is a good chance the wall is load bearing. If the wall is parallel to the joists, then it most likely is not a bearing wall. If in doubt, consult a licensed contractor or structural engineer. If it is load bearing, a new “header” or beam must be sized to properly carry the load.

When removing a wall, there is chance you might expose wiring, piping or duct work. If you have access below or above the wall, a visual inspection might tell you what you can expect. Again, a contractor or engineer might be able to give you an idea of what you might find.

You asked if your husband should tackle this job. I can’t answer that based upon the unknowns at this time. He could at least remove the wall covering, either drywall or plaster, and expose what is behind the wall covering. Then you can make the determination whether he should continue. Good luck and be careful.

Jake


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