A DIY Mistake: Modifying a Load Bearing Wall Without Consulting an Engineer.
If you are planning to buy or renovate a house, you might have heard of the term “load bearing wall”. But what does it mean and why is it important? In this blog post, we will talk about what a load bearing wall is, how to tell if a wall has been modified improperly, and what to do if you find a wall that is not structurally sound.
A load bearing wall is a wall that supports the weight of the structure above it, such as the roof, the floor, or another wall. Load bearing walls are essential for the stability and safety of the building. They are usually located along the perimeter of the house, or at the center of the floor plan. They are often thicker and stronger than non-load bearing walls, which are mainly used to divide rooms or create closets.
However, not all load bearing walls are easy to identify. Sometimes, they are hidden behind drywall, plaster, or paneling. Sometimes, they are modified by previous owners or contractors who did not follow the building codes or did not obtain the proper permits. For example, they might have cut out a section of the wall to create a doorway, a window, or a pass-through. Or they might have removed a wall entirely to create an open floor plan.
These modifications can compromise the integrity and strength of the load bearing wall, and cause serious problems such as sagging floors, cracked walls, doors and windows that do not close properly, or even collapse of the roof or ceiling. That is why it is crucial to inspect the walls before you buy or renovate a house, and to hire a licensed professional if you want to make any changes to them.
How can you tell if a load bearing wall has been modified improperly? Here are some signs to look for:
– Visible cracks or gaps in the wall or around the joints
– Bulging or bowing of the wall
– Sloping or uneven floors above or below the wall
– Cracks in the ceiling or roof
– Doors or windows that stick or do not fit in their frames
– Nails popping out of the drywall or plaster
– Loose or missing studs or beams
If you notice any of these signs, you should contact a qualified general contractor as soon as possible. A general contractor can use various tools and techniques to determine if a wall is load bearing and if it has been modified properly. For example, they can use a stud finder, a level, a plumb bob, a hammer, or a drill to locate and test the studs and beams. They can also check the original blueprints of the house, if available, or consult with an engineer or architect.
If a home inspector identifies a wall that is not structurally sound, they will provide you with a detailed report and recommendations on appropriate next steps. Depending on the severity of the problem, you might need to reinforce the wall with additional studs or beams, replace the damaged sections of the wall, or rebuild the wall entirely. You might also need to obtain permits and approvals from your local building department before you start any work.
A load bearing wall is an important part of your house that should not be ignored or altered without proper care and expertise. By knowing what a load bearing wall is, how to spot a problematic one, and what to do if you find one, you can avoid potential hazards and ensure your home is safe and sound.
If you are looking for a reliable and professional home inspection service in Gibsons, Sechelt, Pender Harbour or any other location on the Sunshine Coast, British Columbia, look no further than Examina Inspections. We are licensed by Consumer Protection BC and follow the standards of practice set by the Canadian National Association of Certified Home Inspectors. We use state-of-the-art equipment and software to provide you with a comprehensive and easy-to-read report on the same day as your inspection. Contact us today to book your inspection!