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Do I need a structural engineer to remove a load bearing wall ?
Yes, you need to apply for city permit to conduct any type of major construction in your residential house. Structure engineer has to verify the conditions of the wall ( load bearing or non-load bearing) and determine the possibility to remove the wall.
How to determine if a wall is load bearing?
In a simple word, if the wall caries the load of the roof truss and/or the floor joists or any other structural member, this wall is load bearing. In most of the cases, load bearing walls are being extended to the footings or being supported by beams at lower levels.
What will be included in the remodeling package if I ask an engineer to visit my place?
Our engineers will manage to visit your site and carefully review the structural conditions and the construction work that will be involved. They will take some measurements if needed. Next step will be preparing the structural drawings (in most of cases; partial plans are sufficient), then you will be able to review/ comment on the drawings and the drawings would be ready for building permit. You may use the drawings for initial pricing, but not for construction until the building permit is issued. After finishing the construction, you need to call us again for another site visit and completion letter. BeStru will visit the site and prepare the “general code compliance letter” if the quality of the consultation is generally acceptable according to the drawings and building codes.
My contractor told me this wall is not load bearing and I can remove it, what do you think ?
Usually contractors are able to identify the load bearing conditions but well experienced contractors would always recommend the owners to ask an engineer to visit the site and confirm their initial thoughts. For purpose of building permit, you will always need engineering drawings.
Can I remove a load bearing wall?
In most of the cases, the answer is Yes! But with proper considerations. The professional engineer has to calculate the loads on the wall and give you alternatives for supporting those loads. Usually wood beams work for supporting the loads, then the load path through the posts, beams and footing has to be determined.
Are partition walls, load bearing ?
Partition walls dividing the interior area are not carrying any loads from the above joist or roof. However, sometimes this is hard to tell if a wall is really a load bearing wall or partition wall.
I want to build a walk out for my basement, what are the requirements?
You need structural drawings in order to apply for a building permit. We need to understand how the loads are being transferred and make sure cutting the foundation wall won’t cause a problem. A site visit would be sufficient to understand the answer for these questions. Architectural drawings would definitely help us to prepare our structural drawings. We normally design new concrete wall and footing and require under-pining for the existing foundations. Lintel beams are also mandatory for support of above elements at the location of the new door.
I have done some structural changes, demolition, remodel and renovation in my house without a building permit. Now city is asking for professional engineer report/drawings/confirmations. Can you help?
This a complicated situation, however, we sometimes deal with this type of projects. It worth mentioning here that any type of structural changes require a professional engineer and building permit.
BeStru engineers have to visit your site, and evaluate the existing condition. We would provide you with a permit set of drawings so you can send to the City for further considerations. If any repair, change or reinforcement were involved, we would provide the solutions as part of structural drawings and/or report.
I know this wall is not load bearing, Do I need a building permit to knock it down?
The answer is “Yes” in most of the cases. Any structural change has to go through permit department in City or town that you are living in. If the wall is not load-bearing, then the Structural Engineer has to issue a letter and confirm so. You can submit the letter for building permit application.
What if I don't get permit ?
Well, certainly this is not a smart decision. Permit application fees is usually very low and proper engineering design and documentation can save you a lot.
Here is the response of Ontario building code in regards to the consequences for violating the Building Code Act, 1992 :
An individual who is charged and found guilty of an offence under the Building Code Act, 1992, such as building without a permit, can be fined up to $50,000 for a first offence and up to $100,000 for subsequent offences. For a corporation, a first offence could result in a maximum fine of $500,000 and $1,500,000 for subsequent infractions.
Failure to comply with an order from the municipal building department is also an offence under the Building Code Act, 1992.
What should I do to start a remodelling/ renovation project ?
One of the best resource to understand the steps that are recommended is in the website of Government of Ontario. There is an article named "Your rights when starting home renovations or repairs". Please read and watch it before starting your project. Here is the link to the website :