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Quick Sanity Check Requested - Removing an internal wall in a wood frame building
3

Quick Sanity Check Requested - Removing an internal wall in a wood frame building

Quick Sanity Check Requested - Removing an internal wall in a wood frame building

(OP)
Hi Folks,
I'm an aerospace engineer, and I was hoping to get some input from my structural brethren. I am on the HOA board of my condominium building. It's a 2 story wood frame building. An owner on the 2nd floor removed an internal wall without approval from the board back in November. We pushed back on them, and it looks like they just had it inspected by a structural engineer (current licensed PE). The engineer's report was light on detail, and it obviously came after the wall was removed. I just want to run it by knowledgeable folks and see if it passes a smell test.

The report states: "A job site visit was conducted at ------ in regards to a wall that has been removed. Based on visual inspection, the wall is neither a vertical load bearing wall nor a lateral resisting shear wall. It was observed that the wall is running parallel to the direction of the framing, which precludes the wall from being a bearing wall. The top of the wall is not tied to the roof diaphragm, which precludes it from being a shear wall. It is the office's opinion based on the field observation, the wall that was removed does not affect the structural integrity of the building."

If you want any additional details, just let me know. I really appreciate your input.



RE: Quick Sanity Check Requested - Removing an internal wall in a wood frame building

Not my exact area, so you'll want another opinion. But yeah, that passes a smell test for me. That's about the level of detail I considered when I bought my home to see if opening up the kitchen would be feasible.

The only flag I see is that if the inspection really was performed after removal, and if the roof diaphragm is flat (it may not be!), I'm not sure how he would know that the wall wasn't connected to the roof diaphragm?

----
The name is a long story -- just call me Lo.

RE: Quick Sanity Check Requested - Removing an internal wall in a wood frame building

I love how they bring the whole office into the situation. Strength in numbers! Sounds reasonable, however.

RE: Quick Sanity Check Requested - Removing an internal wall in a wood frame building

Sounds like a reasonable assessment to me too.

Mike McCann, PE, SE (WA)


RE: Quick Sanity Check Requested - Removing an internal wall in a wood frame building

I would tend to agree that the evidence suggests NOT a load/bearing/shear wall.

However, if the structure was built under the provisions of IBC 2308 - Light frame construction - that section relies on multiple walls "acting" as shear walls with little direct detailing requirements related to hold downs, diaphragm connections etc. It could be that you have a light frame construction building and you've removed a braced wall line that now doesn't meet 2308 provisions.

I doubt it is the case but thought I'd post that idea anyway.

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RE: Quick Sanity Check Requested - Removing an internal wall in a wood frame building

Sounds reasonable to me. I second the concern regarding how they know the wall wasn't attached to the diaphragm if they performed the inspection after the wall was removed?

RE: Quick Sanity Check Requested - Removing an internal wall in a wood frame building

Any chance you can get a copy of the original permit plans? Would the city have them in their records?

RE: Quick Sanity Check Requested - Removing an internal wall in a wood frame building

I'm on a HOA board also. If you don't already have a policy, than you need one. Its a constant battle for us to get homeowners to submit the paperwork and then wait for an approval. If building permits are required, those should be provided as well...

in the future, all homeowner renovations must be submitted with an ARC request and approved by the HOA (structural or otherwise), prior to any work being done.

https://www.thespruce.com/permits-for-condo-remode...

RE: Quick Sanity Check Requested - Removing an internal wall in a wood frame building

(OP)
Thanks for all the great feedback!

To answer some of the Q's:
-I tried to get a copy of the original plans, but the building is 40yrs old and the city's records during that time were spotty.
-I don't know how they made the determination about the wall not being attached to the diaphragm. The HOA only found out the wall had been removed after the owners put it on the market (they're flippers), so it was totally finished. I have contact info for the PE firm, so I'll call them and ask.

-I don't know anything about building codes or light frame construction, but I can ask the PE. It's a smaller condo building (basement garage + two floors of 7 units each). Seems like that could fall into Light Frame Construction. Any way to know for sure? Also, is there anyway to tell if the wall would have been 'acting' as a shear wall, other than the original plans, which I cannot get?

I actually have a before/after photo, so that might be useful
Before:


After:


Thanks again for all the help.

RE: Quick Sanity Check Requested - Removing an internal wall in a wood frame building

(OP)
Thanks cvg,

Yeah, I'm relatively new to the board, and this is the first time we've had any major issues, so it's all new to all of us. For most of the building's history, the HOA was pretty lax about enforcement. I'm trying to clean it up a bit, but it's a lot of work.

RE: Quick Sanity Check Requested - Removing an internal wall in a wood frame building

40 years old = 1978. The 1976 UBC did not have provisions for "Light Framed Construction".

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RE: Quick Sanity Check Requested - Removing an internal wall in a wood frame building

All of the length of the wall past the start of the opening would probably be ineffective to behave as a shear wall. The left end could also be ineffective depending on the height-to-width ratio.

RE: Quick Sanity Check Requested - Removing an internal wall in a wood frame building

Sounds reasonable to me.

And with all my reports I try to recall that brevity is the soul of wit...that and don't say any more than you need to say...

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