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I live in an old (120 - 150 yr old) house with very low ceilings. I am considering ways to make the house feel more open and one option is to remove part of the ceiling and floor joists of the second floor above the living room to give it a tall vaulted ceiling and turning the remainder of the second floor into a loft. Given the age of the house I believe it is balloon constructed. This is something early in the planning stages and am looking for advice on if this is doable and what are some concerns or problems this could create.

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You need to hire an engineer for this one. They will tell you how it can be done, which may require adding additional beams, and other reinforcements to keep the remaining joist structure intact and to prevent the exposed walls from bowing out.

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This is definitely not a DIY job. The floor joists are integral in the geometry of the structure and can't just be removed. An engineer or architect is really needed for this one. Other factors may be electrical wiring or plumbing running in the cavity between floors. –  shirlock homes Mar 30 '13 at 9:59
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