I've had multiple professionals look at this wall, and no one has been able to give me a clear answer (2 home inspectors, and 1 structural engineer). So I've come to the source of all truth, the Internet.

The diagram of what's happening appears to be simple, but as a not-structural-engineer, I can't tell where the load from the roof downward is being applied. Obviously, my long-term game plan here is to remove the wall.

See below - assume that the joists/rafters/collar ties continue regularly: (please let me know if there's more I can diagram)

enter image description here

The question(s):

  1. Is the wall in question load-bearing?
  2. If it is load-bearing, how do I go about calculating the lineal per foot load (e.g. "what size beam do I need for a 13' span")? I have precise measurements available & dead/live psf loads, but because the structural load seems difficult in this case I'm having a lot of trouble determining what size beam would be required for the expected load & span.

Please let me know what additional info I can provide - I have measurements & photos I can reference.

  • Was there an addition done to the house? – UnhandledExcepSean Feb 22 '19 at 16:20
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    What are you expecting us to say? If local experts can't tell you it's because the secret is hidden behind drywall. You won't get any confident answers through the tubes between you and us. – isherwood Feb 22 '19 at 16:20
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    Walls between living areas and garages do have special requirements, and that could also be the reason for the "supports" in the attic. But if your "structural engineer" didn't point those things out you should probably find a better one. You need someone more qualified than a home inspector but a proper engineer should be able to work this out. – JPhi1618 Feb 22 '19 at 16:30
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    What you have labeled "supports" is a gable truss. As JPhi1618 pointed out, it's because a firewall is required there. It'll have a 2x4 on edge along the bottom and vertical 2x members every 24". It's usually identical to the actual gable end trusses. – isherwood Feb 22 '19 at 17:02
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    What's not known is whether there are any interior bearing points in the truss, beams being carried by the wall, or footings below it. It's a fairly safe assumption that it's not load-bearing, but as I said, we can't be more than 90% sure from here. If you want certainty, we ain't it. :) – isherwood Feb 22 '19 at 17:04

Since your front section at one time was a garage the there was a need to provide a fire break wall between the garage and the living portion of the house. Since the garage undoubtedly had an open ceiling all the way up into the rafter area the fire break wall had to extend way up to the roof line. To support the heavy drywall used as sheathing on the fire break wall studding was added from the top plate of the lower wall up to the rafters.

The drywall used on such walls is often 5/8" thick or two layers of 1/2" thick material.

If going by your picture is accurate it is doubtful if this is a load bearing wall in the conventional sense. However depending on the construction of the top plate it may not be providing the necessary strong tie behavior to prevent rafter sagging in that area if the lower wall was to be removed.

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  • Agreed, inasmuch as guesses do the OP any real good. – isherwood Feb 22 '19 at 17:05
  • And you make a good point about the gable truss possibly not being self-supporting. It shouldn't be expected to span any significant distance without a header under it or suitable shear bracing on its face. – isherwood Feb 22 '19 at 17:07
  • @Michael Karas - Fantastic, this was sort-of my assessment initially as well, but the analysis of the vertical supports is new & helpful. Originally I then second-guessed myself and decided "pretend it's load-bearing" but was having heaps of trouble determining total load. I believe the top plate is well-constructed & well-placed on 2 jack(king?) studs based on checks in the drywall. I will still have another structural engineer take a look just in case, & will also plan to support underneath even if it shouldn't have load. – Coruscate5 Feb 22 '19 at 18:08

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