If you are purchasing a property with plans to renovate, that includes removing, moving or altering a wall, you will need to figure out whether the wall is load bearing or not.
What are load bearing walls and aren’t all walls load bearing?
Load bearing walls are essential to the structural integrity of a building, i.e. they stop the house falling down. However not all walls hold up the house. In other words, load bearing walls carry the weight of the roof and any upper-level floors. The weight is often referred to as the load. By contrast a non-load bearing wall is only responsible for holding up itself. (It is often called a partition wall).
The removal of a load bearing wall can be catastrophic if not correctly undertaken by an experienced and licensed professional. The incorrect removal of a load bearing wall may create structural problems such as sagging ceilings, unlevel floors, cracking plaster or possibly structural collapse and injury.
How can you recognise a load bearing wall?
The best way to establish whether a wall is load bearing or not is to physically enter the roof space above the wall in question and ascertain whether any roof load has been transferred onto the wall. A building inspector undertaking a detailed inspection could provide this information for you.
If you are purchasing a home with the intentions of making alterations, it is vital to establish which walls are load bearing and which are not. The overall cost of any renovations may vary greatly depending on results. Sometimes simply installing a larger window to allow more light into the kitchen can prove to be a costly process if those walls are load bearing.
The removal of load bearing walls require building approval and certification. The alterations of non-load bearing walls do not require any approval.
We always recommend the removal or alteration of load bearing walls be undertaken by a licensed builder and in some cases under the consideration of a structural engineer.
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