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Please bear with me - I am not very skilled in the area of house renovations and building structures.

We had a business come in and draw up plans for a new kitchen. It involved knocking out the 'fridge' wall that has cupboards and fridge against it so-as to have the kitchen also take up some of the playroom you can see behind the 'fridge' wall.

They were going to charge AU$10,000 (Australian), about US$7,000, to remove the 'fridge' wall since they claimed it is load bearing and I guess they were going to put a steel beam above it and attached to the truss. I don't know enough to doubt them. What I want to know is, could we reduce the cost with an alternative design?

Photo showing supposed load bearing wall

Let us say that directly ahead is North (approx correct - this photo is in the Southern Hemisphere so our sun is to the North).

In the basement below this is a 5 x 4.8m (16.4 x 16 feet) brick room that runs from the back of the sink (South) that is just to the left outside this photo across to half-way across that hallway you see with coats in it - one way (North to South). And from an external wall at the very left of the photo (West) through to a wall that is just to the right of the photo (East) - the other way (East to West). Huge beams (huge for me at least - 31cm (12.2 inches) wide and 5cm (2 inches) thick) run North to South under the floor sitting on top of the brick room, and are about 60cm (24 inches) apart.

There is a truss that runs East to West above the 'fridge' wall. And another that ultimately sits on-top of the North side of the brick room.

Can anyone suggest the cheapest (and still effective) way to remove the 'fridge' wall? The small hallway to the right along with its door would remain. I was thinking a vertical support beam from floor to ceiling under the truss. The idea is to make one big kitchen that extends in to the play room behind the fridge. The vertical column wouldn't be ideal though I'm sure if this reduces the cost we can blend it in to a design easily.

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    If this is load bearing, then get a structural engineer to design it correctly.
    – Solar Mike
    Apr 17 '20 at 10:32
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    The quote seems reasonable and so does the solution. There's a lot of pieces involved with something like this.
    – represton
    Apr 17 '20 at 13:20
  • If the roof is a truss roof and it bears on the wall between the play room and kitchen, what has been suggested by the contractor is the best solution. Even a conventional framed roof would still need the same reworking.
    – Jack
    Apr 17 '20 at 15:50
  • "this photo is in the Southern Hemisphere so our sun is to the North" Does this mean you will need an Australian structural engineer ? FUN FACT, Here in the north ( Alaska ) in June the sun is also in the north for much of the day. In fact, in Anchorage, it comes up in the north east, goes around the sky and sets in the north west.
    – Alaska Man
    Apr 17 '20 at 18:54
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The cheapest and best way is to have a qualified engineer, in the USA this would be a license professional engineer experienced in structures and in AU I am sure there is an equivalent, and have them determine:

  1. Is the wall load bearing
  2. If so, what is the appropriate structure needed to support it after removing what you want.

Then do that. It's quite possible that the wall is load bearing and you DO NOT want to cut corners and do something silly that will compromise your home and your safety.

A relatively expensive beam will possibly be required here but without analysis of what loads it must support, a recommendation cannot possibly be made.

Bottom line is that you need to do this correctly if you're going to do it at all.

I'm also assuming that your locality has some sort of building permit requirement for work of this sort. I'm sure you'll need something signed by an engineer to prove to the building inspector that what you intend to do is structurally sound.

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  • That does seem a sensible approach, thanks.
    – HankCa
    Apr 17 '20 at 11:50
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You should balance the expected savings from a more optimal design with the cost of hiring an engineer to do an alternative design.

Supposedly, the 10k includes their time to design the structure, build, including materials.

An assumption here is that the majority of the cost is labour and design, neither of which you save on with a more economic design (moreover, more complex but economic designs might be more labour intensive). If this is the situation, just get other quotes for the design you like.

If this assumption is wrong and the potential savings on materials is greater than the cost of an engineer, it might be worth getting an alternative design.

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