Steps to Follow to Remove a Load-Bearing Wall

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Demolition is often a complex undertaking, particularly when it involves a load-bearing wall.

There are many reasons to remove a load-bearing wall, from creating an open kitchen or installing a bay window to simply gaining space. Since these walls support the building’s structure, demolishing them requires the correct tools and professional expertise in order to avoid causing irreversible damage.

In this article, our demolition experts in the Montreal area explain the steps to follow to remove a load-bearing wall.

What to know before removing a load-bearing wall

Removing a load-bearing wall can be an excellent idea if you want to enlarge a room or bring in more light. However, before you decide to take on this type of residential demolition project, there are several factors to consider.

Removing a load-bearing wall is no mean feat, because as its name suggests, this type of wall is one of the most important structural elements of a building.

Load-bearing walls are designed to support the weight of the roof and upper floors. When a building is designed, they are carefully positioned in order to evenly distribute the structural load.

Modifying or tearing down a load-bearing wall alters the building’s vertical and seismic loads. Therefore, there are important guidelines that must be followed when undertaking this type of work.

Removing a load-bearing wall: administrative formalities

In Quebec, anyone wishing to carry out renovations inside a building must respect federal, provincial and local regulations. The following factors may dictate which standards need to be followed:

  • The type of work (structural or foundation work)
  • The type of building (single-family dwelling, semi-detached home, multiplex)
  • The building’s function (residential, commercial, mixed)
  • The borough where the work takes place

In the province of Quebec, the Règlement sur les permis et les certificats en urbanisme requires a building permit for renovation work that involves changes to dividing walls. Furthermore, if the work involves the removal of a load-bearing wall, approval must be obtained from an architect or building engineer.

Obtaining a building permit

Building permits serve to ensure that renovation projects are in compliance with the standards set forth in the National Building Code. These requirements are in place to protect applicants’ safety and that of their neighbours.

Before beginning renovations, you’ll need to submit all of the necessary documents to the authorities to provide an accurate overview of your planned project. If your project meets all of the conditions set forth by the municipality, it will issue a building permit.

Getting help from an architect or building engineer

You’ll need help from a qualified architect or building engineer to assess the feasibility of your load-bearing wall demolition project. A professional will be able to verify that the wall is in fact load-bearing and calculate the loads involved. They can then draw up plans for the project that will be used to obtain a building permit.

Ways to remove a load-bearing wall

Removing a load-bearing wall requires the installation of a metal structure to support the load. The structure usually consists of a beam supported by two posts whose dimensions have been precisely calculated by an architect or engineer.

Projects of this nature require an experienced team equipped with the right tools. Given the complexity of the task, we strongly recommend hiring a demolition company to do the work. While this type of work should be left to qualified professionals, it can be useful to understand the techniques involved.

Metal support beams

This technique is the simplest and most commonly used when creating a smaller opening (between 80 cm, or 2′ 7″, and 1 m, or 3′ 3″) in a load-bearing wall. With this technique, shoring is done between the floor and the ceiling by redistributing the loads onto metal support beams.

The portal frame method

This technique is often used for openings of up to 250 cm (8′ 2″) in load-bearing walls. The portal frame method consists of creating a jamb (two vertical posts) and attaching a third horizontal beam above them.

Each vertical post is fixed to footings at the ground level that support the loads.

Two horizontal beams

This technique is recommended for load-bearing walls that are particularly thick (over 30 cm, or 1′). The principle is the same as the portal frame method, but adds a second horizontal beam for extra support.

Choose the right demolition company to remove a load-bearing wall

Removing a load-bearing wall is a complex technical task that requires real expertise. Several experienced people equipped with the right tools are needed in order to carry out the job properly and create an alternative support structure. Therefore, it’s best to enlist the services of a demolition expert.

Are you looking to remove a load-bearing wall in your home in the Montreal area?

At Excavation Chanthier, we work closely with engineers and structural specialists who can assist you with the necessary administrative procedures. Our teams of demolition experts are able to carry out your renovation work in compliance with the strictest safety regulations.

Contact us today to learn more about our services and get a quote.

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