Forum HomeCA-Modern ForumsHome Maintenance Hotline › Removing wall between family and dining room

Removing wall between family and dining room

10 replies [Last post]
Offline
Joined: Jan 18 2008

Hello,

My wife and I recently bought a 1962 built Sunnyvale Eichler (off Mary and Ticonderoga) and feel honored to own a sweet piece of history. We have a couple of things on our to-do list (too many actually) but we’re planning on taking it one step at a time. The house has great bones but needs some TLC. We have gone through the forums extensively and have a few questions that I was hoping to get some feedback on.

Flooring: After going thru all the posts on Eichler Network that discuss flooring options (thank you all for the massive amount of info you have already shared) we decided to go with VCT for the full house. It fits our budget and has the style we are looking for. I pulled out the old carpet and tiles with the help of some friends and we plan on getting a professional VCT installer to level the floor with Ardex and then install the tiles.
I wanted to check if anyone has installed white VCT tiles and if yes, how difficult is it to maintain? Do you see a lot of seams/lines between the tiles over time even if they are installed correctly? How often do these tiles need to be cleaned in the high traffic areas (we entertaining a lot).

Removing wall: I’m not sure what our Eichler floor plan model number is, however the layout is something like this. You enter into the Atrium and on walking thru the sliding door you enter into the living/dining room. On the right thru a small opening is the family room and at the far end of the family room is the kitchen. The previous owners remodeled the kitchen to open it up. Now there is a wall separating the family room and the dining room. This wall prevents one standing in the kitchen or sitting on the couch in the family room to see into the back yard.

I was really keen on removing this wall (obviously leaving in the posts to support the roof) and had a few contractors come over to give us their opinion and bids. I was hoping that if a few of them said the similar things we could easily make a good decision. However, we got bids from 10K all the way down to 1.5K and feedback from don’t remove the cross bracing in the wall since its load bearing and needed for earthquake protection – to – just leave in the post and take out the rest… We want to preserve the original Eichler aesthetics as much as possible, but at the same time open up the floor plan so we can utilize the space better.

I’ve stripped the mahogany panel (it was already destroyed with holes and wallpaper) to see what the inside looked like and here's a link to the photo (http://picasaweb.google.com/forhabi/FamilyDiningWall/photo#5161740771199...) I was hoping someone else might have gone through a similar re-model and could provide some feedback on whether – is this a bad idea in general? How to do this and still keep the structural integrity and the Eichler aesthetics? Would it be ok to keep the posts and remove the cross bracing?

Talking with many contractors it looks like we will have to keep the wall on the right that has the thermostat pipe coming thru and route the electrical to it and a little (6”) of the wall on the left to hide the “L” bracket. The post in the center can be dressed to look like the others in the house. Also the 2 -2x4 running along the roof might have to be left in place to prevent the tar and gravel roof from getting messed up since there are nails under the tar holding the 2x4 in place.

If were to do this – would the sacrifices to the Eichler aesthetics be worth it in order to obtain an open floor plan? We love Eichlers and don’t want to do anything stupid to mess with the look as well as the structural integrity – any help and opinions will be very much appreciated.

All that you touch, and all that you see. Is all your life, will ever be. -Pink Floyd

Offline
Joined: Jan 18 2008

I'm a little disappointed that no one replied or had any feedback... I was hoping I would get some help.

If anyone knows a good structural engg I would really appreciate it if you can email me their contact info.

All that you touch, and all that you see. Is all your life, will ever be. -Pink Floyd

Offline
Joined: Apr 19 2007

i sent a note to the mrs. the other day, but wanted to keep my novice-engineering reccos offline. the long-short of the note was that most walls in our own home are braced for sheer either by cross members or by sheathing/paneling -- and i'm guessing for a reason. without it, i could definitely see the beams rocking off the posts in a shake. i'd imagine the bracing is required by code and you might not be able to remove the wall without some significant mods to the structure (if at all)... but i s'pose you already thought of that (what with the query or a structural engineer and all). you might actually want to start with the city. no one knows code better (hopefully) than those paid to enforce it.

Offline
Joined: Jan 9 2008

The cross bracing isn't there to so much for the vertical loads from the roof as it resists lateral loads that can be cause by earthquakes.

Vertical loads go in the up and down direction - like the weight of your roof pushing down on your beams. Earthquakes can cause your house to move both up and down and side to side. These side to side forces are called lateral loads. Depending on how a structure is configured and designed, lateral loads can lead to torsion or twisting of the structure.

The cross bracing and shear walls are constructed in specific locations throughout your home to help brace the house against the lateral loads and control the torsional movements. If you remove a shear wall without considering the structural impact to your home it could potentially cause greater damage in the event of an earthquake. I strongly recommend you hire a structural engineer before you remove or relocate any walls. It sounds like you're already on that track by asking for recommendations.

Unfortunately I don't have any recommendations for structural engineers in your area, hopefully someone else can help you with that. You might be able to get some assistance from the city building department. Before you hire any structural engineer, make sure they are properly registered through the California Board for Professional Engineers and Land Surveyors as a structural engineer. You can look up license information online at:

http://www.dca.ca.gov/pels/l_lookup.htm

Good luck!

Offline
Joined: Jan 18 2008

Hey guys… thanks for the feedback. I am now convinced that the wall must stay (much to relief of my wife). After reading your posts I did some more reading on the web and found articles about “shear walls” and based on what I read Eichler’s already seem to have fewer shear walls than std houses. I agree that we might have to do a lot of mods to build in the shear strength needed which will probably mess up the aesthetics too much. I was contemplating on talking to the city folks, but my past experience dealing with the city has not been great… besides Eichler’s are so unique and already out of code.

That said we have decided to take of the lip of the wall that reduces the size of the opening into the family room. This it’s self should open up the space a bit. When we do the roof in a year or two we’ll revisit this issue again and hire an experienced structural engg then. I spoke to a few guys and it costs ~800 bucks to get them to come over and provide a plan

If anyone is interested here is some info on shear walls:
http://www.abag.ca.gov/bayarea/eqmaps/fixit/ch3/sld002.htm
• Shear walls should create a box structure (Eichler’s already lack this and pulling out the wall makes it worst. There seem to be many walls parallel to the beams but very few perpendicular to them)
o Note shear walls in each corner and in-between corners, with stucco in between
• To be effective, shear walls should be equal length and placed symmetrically on all four exterior walls of the building.
o Note how shear walls are evenly distributed

redneckmodern – Apologies, I did not read your response to my wife till after I posted again. Thanks for the info on the wall and the VCT. I’ll email you for insights about the insulation and sheetrock info (stuff you have on your blog).

All that you touch, and all that you see. Is all your life, will ever be. -Pink Floyd

jt
Offline
Joined: Sep 11 2005

We removed a shear wall between the kitchen and dining room. Our architect had us install two 5x5 steel posts with the cross beam across the two posts.

Offline
Joined: Feb 6 2008

Habi - Can you please describe the cross bracing you found in the wall? We decided to take a pony wall down from 6 feet to 4 feet but it doesn't seem to be a shear wall since it doesn't have what I imagine cross bracing to be.

After reading your post, I decided to sheath the entire wall with 5-ply plywood just to add some shear strength. Better safe than sorry.

(and I needed an excuse to buy a framing nailer! : )

Offline
Joined: Jan 18 2008

glasshaus - check out this photo for what the cross braced wall looks like (worth more than 1000 words!) was also in my original post (http://picasaweb.google.com/forhabi/Fam ... 1199420514)
Also, Are you going to sheetrock over the ply?

jt - how thick was the cross beam between the two posts? Is the cross beam also steel? If you don't mind me asking - can you tell me roughly how much it cost you to do this modification?

All that you touch, and all that you see. Is all your life, will ever be. -Pink Floyd

jt
Offline
Joined: Sep 11 2005

Yes, the cross beam is also steel and 5x5. It cost about $2500 for the materials and installation (welding on site). After painting it the same color as the other beams, it doesn't look too bad.

We also put plywood on the entire wall on one side of the house. We put sheet rock on top of the plywood.

Offline
Joined: Jan 18 2008

Thanks jt... that sounds a lot like what we want to do.

if you dont mind, can you send me a photo of what it looks like now? and possibly the contact info of the contractor who did this for you? My email address is forhabi@gmail.com

this will really help us out... thanks in advance.

All that you touch, and all that you see. Is all your life, will ever be. -Pink Floyd

Offline
Joined: May 28 2008

Hi JT,

I'd also be interested in a picture of the beams you've put in place. We have removed a wall separating our kitchen and dining/living room in preparation to create an island. I believe this was a pony wall just to hold the cabinets up, and according to our architect/engineer removing this wall is not going to be an issue. Please send photos if you have them to Naomi_94402atyahoodotcom. Thanks in advance!

Naomi

Comment viewing options

Select your preferred way to display the comments and click "Save settings" to activate your changes.