I want to remove a load-bearing wall that separates my living room
from my kitchen. The attic is constructed of regular roof rafters and
the span is roughly 25 feet. I'm exploring different methods of
accomplishing this. The obvious method is to install a beam, but I
also want to look into the prospect of converting the existing roof
rafters into trusses. I've been unable to find much useful
information online so far.
Can anybody recommend any resources (preferably online) that detail
the pros, cons, risks, and methods for a do-it-yourselfer to do such a
conversion? I don't know if I will do it this way or not, but I would
like some reputable websites that would at least tell me whether or
not I can.
Thanks to everyone for any information you can provide!
I am no engineer, however, while it may be theoretically possible to convert
rafters and ceiling joists into a truss, most roofs are not constructed in a
way that would allow a conversion to a truss, most notable the connection
between the rafter and the joist at the outside support walls plus any
splices or joints in the ceiling joists that may not align or not have any
torsional strength. Trusses are normally built unloaded, installed and the
load added. It would be difficult to conceive how to build it in place while
If you are just supporting a ceiling and not a second floor, it should be
possible to add a modest size gluelam beam to support the ceiling joists.
Getting it up and in the attic is the biggest challenge, but you may have
the same problem getting wood up and installed to create trusses.
No "reputable site" will do such -- there are too many variables and
unknowns given the potential problems to do such. That's why there are
engineers and requirements for licensing of same...
As an example, there was an article in FHB a couple of issues ago where
a contractor made some modifications -- I didn't read it terribly
closely at the time as it wasn't of particular interest, but wondered
about the soundness of a couple of things he did. The next issue
contained a very detailed letter from an engineer who _did_ read it and
pointed out many issues that were either inadequately addressed or
totally overlooked in the modifications.
One of the interesting points was that the load calculations indicated
the "by feel" new ridge beam was undersized such that the load is
roughly 4X design values for the size chosen...
I have done this on several occasions where the original construction of
the roof had failed, or was inadequate to begin with. I did this under
the supervision of an engineer. He designed and inspected the
installation of plate gussets and braces to create what became a truss.
I have over 30 years of experience in construction and I would never
do this without an engineer. This is just one of those times where you
really need one.
You could however, install a beam in the attic to carry whatever needs
to be carried by the removal of the bearing wall. Even this would be a
good reason to contact an engineer for sizing, but if the situation is
simple enough, you may be able to size and install a beam.
Trusses were built with plywood gussets before the metal plate
method of construction was developed. Room permitting you could
probably build trusses in place the old way with plywood.
Needless to say, getting drawings approved by an engineer and your
local authorities will not be easy or cheap. Getting your butt into
the available space to do the construction won't be much easier.
I helped a friend make his own trusses for a shed years ago. I later
built a shed myself with trusses the same size. I bought my trusses.
It just wasn't worth the time to build when I could buy them for
almost the same cost as the material. The homemade trusses we made
were in my opinion just as good as the ones I bought.
In reality you are still going to have a kitchen and a living
room. A beam across the ceiling between the two rooms will not
look out of place. With a beam between the two areas you won't
have a battle trying to match the existing ceilings.
Keep it simple. The more you think about unconventional construction
the more likely you are to outsmart yourself.
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