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Question DetailsAsked on 1/23/2015

I have a 24 foot load-bearing i-beam with 18 linear feet of wall beneath. I want to reduce to 11 linear...possible?

The load is a full story (2 bedrooms, one bath upstairs). The I-beam is 24 feet long. 1/4 of the wall is already missing (6 1/2 feet is missing, about 1/4 of the original wall). I want to remove another 8 feet of wall to open the dining room space up to the living room. I plan to leave approximately 14 inches of the wall on one end of the i-beam, and approximately 2 feet of wall on the other end. In the middle of this loadbearing beam there is an additional 8 feet of wall remaining.

In summary: original wall beneath i-beam was 18 total linear feet, new wall will have 11 linear feet total remaining after I widen an opening already existing, but removal is not all in one spot: 1 foot of wall will remain on one end, 2 feet on the other, and 8 feet in the middle. There is approximately 600 sq. feet of living space-plus a roof-of load. Is there enough wall remaining beneath the i-beam in order to keep it's load-bearing integrity??

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How about a definitive maybe ? As for opening up another 6-1/2 foot wide opening at the other end, that is pretty likely, because obviously the beam was designed for a 6-1/2 wide opening at the other end. Widening to 8 feet, and another 8 footer at the other end - you need a Structural Engineer to tell you if that can work. Even if it will not work as is, it may well be that opening it up over both openings and a foot or so on each side will allow doubling up, or face-plating the beam to increase its span capacity to handle it.


He/she can also determine what modification need to be done in and under that wall - beefing up the stud/column load carrying capacity adjacent to the openings as needed, and then what is needed to carry those loads down through the basement or to the ground, as applicable - you may well need basement columns to carry the loads on each side of the openings down to the ground, and/or concrete pads to transfer the load to the ground safely and without objectionable settlement in the future. The engineer should also be able to give you a ballpark cost for the modification work, and prepare the necessary plans to get the building permit and for contractors to use both for bidding the job and building it.


I would guess it will probably be doable without replacing the beam - whether the beam will need beefing up depends on how overbuilt it was. It is also possible, if you are amenable to that from an aesthetic and headroom standpoint, that putting in corbels or arches (or part-arches - wood or wrought iron) at the sides of the openings to reduce the span would solve the problem too. A third option, if the above are not doable within reason or are too expensive, is putting an intermediate column or two in the opening if needed, decorative or maybe with a display case or multi-level planter stand or such concealing it.

Answered 4 years ago by LCD




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