If you need to change the layout of your home then making an internal alteration or modification to open up a wall is an excellent way to go. The wall you want to open up though will need to be assessed to check if it supporting any other loads.This may be a brick load or even the floor timbers so it will be necessary to do a few checks first. A typical design of a structure could have double reception rooms, (back and front), with the back room joists usually running from the intermediate wall (the wall you may be opening) to the structures external walls. The front room joists in turn, may run from the same spine wall to the front external wall of the house.
Any wall that is bearing the weight of joists is therefore load bearing and will have to be supported prior to any major alterations carried out. Typically this would be done with the use of acrow props and timbers ‘needles’ or steel supports called strong boys to take the load whilst alterations are underway.
Some loads may not be from masonry by the way, they could be from timber partitions above the wall you want to take out. In the same fashion the load must be supported both before and after any alteration is taken out. You ought to make every check to establish what load the wall is carrying.
You ought to carry out a thorough assesment of the modifications you are planning to right from the start to ensure everything has been accounted for in your calculations. There are many structural engineers out there who will be happy to pay you a visit and make all the necessary drawings and calculations to help with your project.
Permanent support will be required after your alterations have been temporarily propped and this will commonly be in the form or either a concrete concrete or steel lintel or steel RSJ. There are a number of different beams on the market, each serving their own purposes so it will be necessary to use the correct support for the job. A structural engineer will be able to make the necessary calculations for you. Don’t just guess what you think will be right!
You will need to inform the local building inspector that you are intending to carry out work to the property who will be happy to advise on ensuring the alteration is to current standards. Building regulations is required for most structural alterations so you must make enquiries before commencing works.
You will want to set everything out clearly to ensure you know exactly what you are removing and to know where your new concrete or steel lintel will sit. You will want the new RSJ or concrete or steel lintel to rest on a minimum of 150mm bearings so make provisions for this when marking out. You can use a hammer and bolster to chop back the plaster covering the brick. An angle grinder can be used to make a straight line where the opening will run to or the traditional method of hammer and bolster.
Preparing To Fit The Steel Beam
Any debris in your workspace should be cleaned and removed to ensure you are unobstructed in any way. You will now want to prepare for fitting the new lintel so ensure you have enough helpers to lift the lintel in place and that you can do this safely. Some scaffold boards spanning trestles offer a safe way to do this. Bed the lintel onto a stiff 3:1 mix of sand and cement sitting on concrete pad stones. Pack up the lintel with slate afterwards to ensure it is tight to the brickwork above.
The job is now almost complete with the complicated bits out of the way but we are not done yet! The day afterwards when the sand and cement has hardened, you will be able to take out the temporary steel supports. Fill the voids in the walls with left over bricks and re-point and slate up as required. Once the BCO has inspected the work you can make good and re-plaster.
Any structural modification should be professionally calculated in order for the correct supporting members to be put in place. Contact your local BCO office today and ask for a list of structural engineers in your local area.