Protecting Structural Integrity: Understanding Safety for Building Around a Load Bearing Wall
Keeping any building structurally sound is an important part of maintaining its safety. One of the most important structural components of any building are its load bearing walls, an integral feature that supports the weight of the building’s roof and other upper storeys. Building around a load bearing wall can produce certain safety concerns, so it’s important to take certain precautions to avoid any potential dangers.
The outside wall of any building is always a load bearing wall, as it must be able to adequately distribute the pressure of the roof’s weight. As for any other load bearing walls within a building, they can usually be identified in the basement by spotting a beam above a wall. Joists can be another indicator, as they tend to run perpendicular to load bearing walls. These walls will always require support when doing any building work, so if you’re unsure whether a wall is load bearing or not, consult a structural engineer for further advice.
It’s important to take care in making any alterations to load bearing walls, as it can have detrimental effects on the entire structure of the building. For examples, if a staircase is being added, the joists will need to be cut, thus weakening the support of the floor above. Trimmer joists will then need to be placed from the outside wall to the load bearing wall, in order to maintain the necessary amount of support for the floor, but this should only ever be done after consulting with a qualified professional.
If French doors are being installed for example, it’s important to include a lintel which helps to better distribute the pressure of the weight. As long as a qualified professional (such as an engineer or architect) is consulted and plans drafted, most construction plans involving surrounding or working with load bearing walls can be safely carried out.
When working with load bearing walls it’s important to take certain precautions to avoid unnecessary hazards and minimise potential risks. In the first instance, if you are unsure whether a wall is load bearing or not, it’s best to contact a structural engineer. Immediately before beginning any construction work, consult a qualified professional and draft a plan that follows the technical guidelines upon which the building is designed. Always wear appropriate safety equipment, such as a hard hat, and be mindful of any potential risks that could cause harm.
By ensuring proper care and attention is given to load bearing walls and by following published safety protocols and advice from qualified professionals, construction work around such components will run much more safely and smoothly.