How to Determine if a Wall is Load Bearing
LESLIE: Matt in Oregon, you’ve got The Money Pit. How can we help you today?
MATT: We have just picked up a 1970s ranch home. And the kitchen needs to be totally gutted and remodeled. It looks like a kitchen from the 70s. And my question is – we need to take down a wall, maybe two. And I was curious if there’s a way to find out, quick and easy, if a wall is load-bearing or not.
TOM: So, you can’t use words like “quick” and “easy” and “load-bearing” and “structural” kind of in the same sentence. They just don’t work well together.
MATT: Oh, I was hoping it was going to be easy.
TOM: Well, I can just tell you in general if you have a ranch, OK, the walls that are parallel with the front and the rear walls are usually load-bearing. And there’s going to be one wall that goes down the middle of the ranch and that wall is almost always load-bearing because the roof rafters are sort of pitched – are angled to be right above it. And the ceiling joists will cross on that wall.
But because it’s a ranch, there’s not a whole lot of weight above that. So just because it is load-bearing doesn’t mean you can’t make changes to it. You just have to do it correctly, which means that you can’t just take it away. You have to build something there to support the weight that it was carrying to begin with. It’s a lot easier to do that in a ranch than it is in a two-story house, where you’re carrying the weight of a second floor.
MATT: Right. OK. Well, that gives us hope.
TOM: Happy that we could do that for you, Matt. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.