I have a wall in my basement that is load bearing. Right now, they put a door opening in there (and probably overdid the header for it). I would like to remove a 7 foot section and open it up for a bit more storage.

I have been searching online, and most tell you how to do something like this, but not how big of a beam you'd need for a span of X feet. How do I figure something like that out?

wall with markings

2 Answers 2


When modifying load bearing walls and betting your house on the results, you are well served to hire a civil engineer to analyze the situation and tell you what will work, rather than guessing. It should not be terribly expensive.

  • Oh OK, I've never done that before. I assume this is not just a contractor. I live in Virginia, USA; is the separate from a permit inspection?
    – Jeff
    Jul 22, 2015 at 12:46
  • 3
    From personal experience, an inspection for a permit generally just is to guarantee that you are doing what you said you would do. An engineer is the man/firm behind the measurement, math and understanding of the change. Very different roles. Jul 22, 2015 at 13:16
  • I don't want to step on anybody's toes as inspections are generally a good thing to have but in reality some inspectors won't even bother getting out of their car to check your work. I would consider the engineer first.
    – Kris
    Jul 22, 2015 at 21:32
  • If inspection comes into it, it would be that the inspector might want to see a stamped (by licensed engineer) drawing - or the permit folks might, a step ahead of that. Neither the inspector or a contractor are likely to be properly qualified to assess the required beam themselves, but they might want proof that someone qualified has done so, and to verify that the drawing and what's built match up.
    – Ecnerwal
    Jul 22, 2015 at 22:14

@Ecnerwal's answer is very correct... contact an engineer. In my case I contacted someone from the local government (permit office), and they were able to run the numbers for me.

In my particular case, I am using (2) 9¼" x 1¾" Mircolams. What went into the calculation was the number of floors this wall is supporting and the length of the rafters over top.

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