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Question DetailsAsked on 11/9/2016

How much is the average cost to remove a support pillar/post?

I have a support pillar that "separates" my living room from my dining room. The opening is about 20 feet wide and the post is about in the middle. I'm looking to completely remove it and install one very long beam from one side to the other.

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If you put the search phrase "load bearing" (without the "" marks) into the Ask box above, it will bring up several links to responses to previous similar questions - and under each of them you will see more links (some duplicates) to other similar questions about removing load-bearing walls and supports.

Basically, sounds like you either have a modern open floor plan design house or someone already took out a load-bearing wall there. If you are able to make contact with the previous owner, they might be able to tell you if they had a wall taken out - and if so, might be able to provide you with plans or with the name of the structural engineer who did the design and the name of the contractor (and maybe a positive or negative recommendation on him too). Or if it is a recent build, the original builder might have plans showing the design and the architect/engineer who designed it, if that was part of the original design.

Certainly what you want to do "can" be done - it is all a matter of how many $ you throw into it. Of course if there are other units in the building (not a stand-alone house) the matter can get a lot more complex too, especially if construction involves doing any work in a neighboring unit.

Taking out a 20' wall and putting in one or more central load-bearing posts is fairly routine - needs structural design for the load transfer supports, but commonly doable without major structural modifications. Taking out the intermediate support post in a 20' span is not normally minor, and is almost always a significant load-bearing feature - commonly carrying about half the overhead floor and wall loads. It is rare in normal nominal 8" deep (2x8 joists say) overhead floor construction to be able to put in a 20' load-bearing beam (and because there is a support pillar in the middle it likely is load bearing) in a 7-1/2" deep joist space. 10" depth easier, 12 or more normally no problem with steel beams. With wood beams in a typical residence, a normal 20' span load usually means a 14-24" deep beam, which is not going to fully fit in hardly any subfloor space. However, within reason, it is also sometimes poossible to double-up beams side by side to divide the load and reduce the required depth of the beams, and of course if getting rid of the beam is critical to you custom-built beams can be built to accomplish it.

Also - if this is a major house support wall supporting midwall roof loads for some roof designs, or an exterior wall which is supporting floor and/or roof beams or trusses (typically both on 2 sides of the house), the issues are greater than if it is supporting only floor loads for the story above or is a gable-end exterior wall beam. From your description this sounds like a mid-house beam, so likely a support beam carrying overhead floor loads - probably runs along one side of a longitudinal hall leading to bedrooms and such.

A structural engineer will have to figure out what you can get away with in your particular case - depending on overhead roof and floor loadings and floor depth, where the loads are being carried now versus where they will ahve to bear if you eliminate the post, what the situation is on the floor/basement below to be able to carry all the load only at the ends of the beam, etc.

It may be that to be economic you will have to tolerate a partially exposed beam (which can be covered with a fake wood beam or drywall soffit or dropped ceiling) - or go with a deep wood beam that is exposed and finished (stain paint, or architectural finish), depending on your interior design and personal preferences and headroom needs.

You can also commonly go with a supporting arched structure covering an arched beam or arched facade over horizontal beam. Or you can use (at greater cost for the beam) an arched girder or beam and the beam can be bare or drywall or brick or stone covered - and can (depending on $ and your aesthetic likes and dislikes) be an arched member with open space above the two ends of the arch, or a solid arch. You can get quite artistic with this if you desire - google this search phrase for potential ideas -

images for arched residential load bearing beams

Another alternative, and if you want to look at a number of alternatives then an Architect (using an in-house or consultant Structural Engineer for the structural calcs) is your best bet - because a beam can be concealed in a number of ways but can also be highlighted as a finished architectural element. You could also replace the single post with two adjacent ones if the location of the one post is the issue (and those two posts can be architecturally concealed, made into end supports at the ends of a breakfasst counter, etc), or encapsulate any intermediate posts in a fake wood column, decorative plaster column (stuccoed or to look like a greek or stone column or such), cover it with tile or stone (real or fake veneer), surround it with a decorative curio or display or book case or plant sconces or decorative lighting or ... endless possibilities. Even did one (granted, REALLY high end job in Beverly Hills) where a supporting column that just could not reasonably be eliminated was treated for underwater protection and covered with fake underwater plants and encapsulated in a columnar aquarium - though sealing a structural column within an aquarium is not something I would recommend.

Answered 2 years ago by LCD

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