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We are interested in purchasing a residence that has a workshop attached to it. The owner has erected metal shelving units like those shown in the attached photos. The shelving units are anchored to the drywall and metal studs.

There is no load bearing information attached to the shelving units. If we left the shelving in place and accidentally put too much weight on it, it could buckle the metal studs and fall down. If that scenario occurred, that could result in damage and personal injury.

If we have the owner remove it, repair and repaint the drywall, then there would be no future hazard or liability to anyone. If we needed shelving in the future, we could go and purchase and know what the load bearing capacity is and have professionally installed.

What steps should we take or how could we assess if these shelving units were installed properly and safely?

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  • Welcome. You'll need to ask a more specific question. As it is it's very broad and mostly a matter of prerogative (opinion), and therefore off topic on this site. Plus, the answer must be "yes". Virtually anything is a potential hazard or liability. That doesn't mean much, though. – isherwood Feb 26 at 20:47
  • Thank you. I shall edit. – Ted Feb 26 at 20:50
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    Any shelving will be a potential problem if you overload it. Are you going to have the owner remove the closet shelves and the kitchen shelves? – JACK Feb 26 at 20:54
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    I want those shelve brackets, they look bomb proof, seriously beefy. – Alaska Man Feb 26 at 21:24
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    If you park your car on a shelf even wood studs will fail, so I am not sure what your question is the shelves look fine , no evidence of buckling. Professional install won’t have any more info than the shelf capacity. – Ed Beal Feb 26 at 21:43
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You could hire a structural engineer to access.

However, you do have the 'test of time' test, they've been there and are working. However, they also appear to be lightly loaded.

Those shelves appear to be very strong and likely properly installed or they would have failed already, or show signs of failing.

You're right be concerned about the wall studs, with shelves like this, the failure point could be the studs themselves. If the stud flange is not braced then it will fail in bending, out of the wall at the top of the shelf bracket, into the wall at the bottom. The screw threads could also pull through the metal of the stud.

If you're concerned about it, than do as you suggest, it seems that you have nothing to lose by removing them. Or it's on the seller to prove that they are ok or at least provide maximum loading.

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  • Since the OP mentioned "metal studs", it's unlikely that there are any penny nails and there is no end grain to worry about. – FreeMan Mar 11 at 18:16
  • You are correct, I assumed that since it's a residence that the studs are actually wood. The issue then with metal studs is local to the connection of the shelf bracket to the stud. If the stud flange is not braced then it will fail in bending, out of the wall at the top of the shelf bracket, into the wall at the bottom. I'll update my answer – Ack Mar 11 at 18:31

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