Children dream about different careers. Through play, sports and hobbies we explore many interests and hopefully find our passion. My first love was figure skating but I wasn't going to become a professional skater. At times I wanted to be an architect, a teacher and tried my hand at various entrepreneurial ventures like selling flowers from our garden.
Life's journey isn't a straight line. After student teaching I switched to technology and eventually my interest in building and business came together when I started a handyman business. We all have hidden talent and skills from our childhood. As a homeowner you get to rediscover yours, to maintain your investment and create your dream home.
Maybe you remember building things as a child? Did you enjoy the challenge of balancing building blocks to see how high you could stack them up? There are many concepts that transfer from children's building blocks to building houses and that's what we'll explore here.
A Solid Foundation Supports Your Home
Foundations vary across the US based on weather, soil type and local building codes. There's more complexity than our building blocks. Factors affecting your foundation include soil type, foundation wall height and thickness, how much of the foundation is underground (called backfill depth), concrete strength and the use of reinforcing steel (called rebar). If you're building a home, the architect and builder will make tradeoffs between these factors to balance strength versus cost, using Requirements for Residential Concrete Construction and Commentary (ACI 332-10), which provides tables with design alternatives for house foundations.
Load Bearing Walls
From the foundation up, walls define the shape of our living space. Most exterior walls are load bearing, meaning they support the weight of everything above them down to the foundation. Exceptions are houses where the roof is supported by the front and back walls of the house, i.e. a Colonial or Cape style house. Our building blocks illustrate that each of the openings in the structure must have good support below and above the opening just like load bearing walls.
As doors and windows are integrated into load bearing wall, special care is taken to add enough structural strength to compensate for missing wall studs. At the top of these openings are headers and at the bottom of window openings, sills (learn more about Window Framing at this site for home pros).
Framing and Removing Walls
Today many homeowners want to combine rooms to create more open, visual space inside their homes. You can easily see that if you remove any block above, the rest of the building will collapse. Interior walls may or may not be load bearing and you've got to determine which walls can be removed easily, they're not load bearing. Walls that are load bearing can usually be removed by adding structural support in one of several ways.Some examples of projects my handyman team completed:
- Opened up kitchens with a half wall and posts to provide structural integrity … and this approach works for any room, i.e. creating combination living/dining rooms, kitchen/family rooms, etc.
- Created an inside window (opening) between a kitchen and family room, with a ledge for passing things through.
- Moved a wall to create a larger entryway with a view of the beautiful Victorian staircase.
- Made closets larger by taking space from an adjoining guest bedroom.
- Punched through a kitchen wall, leaving supporting studs with headers, for the structural support needed. We've pushed cabinets into the dining room to gain space for a kitchen island. Another time, we pushed a refrigerator into an oversize bathroom to make it easily accessible to the kitchen, eating area and family room in a new open concept space.
- … these ideas are meant to show you when you have a goal, there is a way to change your home to support your lifestyle!
Learn more about open floor plans for your home …
Remodeling photo credit goes to Greene Construction.