Replacing a load bearing wall with a beam in the attic

6 years ago
last modified: 6 years ago

I live in an early 1960's ranch house and there's a load-bearing wall running down part of the middle of the house, separating the kitchen from dining room. My kitchen renovation plans call for the removal of this wall to create one open space. I had thought that a beam would be installed below the ceiling joists, but my contractor says that he can put it overhead in the attic, so the beam won't be visible from the house. Could someone tell me how this is done? I don't quite understand how you can provide support from above.

Aside from this, my living room runs the entire width of the house (about 24') with no support other than a homemade truss structure for the roof. It's been this way for 55 years, so I guess the structure is sound enough, but I still would feel more comfortable with more support overhead. I had asked my contractor about installing some sort of beam there as well, and he mentioned that a beam can't run into masonry (there's a fireplace at one end of the room, right in the center). I asked if he could put beams on either side of the chimney and he said it's possible, but he would need to look at it more closely.

If beams like this were installed, one end would be supported by an outside wall, but the other end would be supported by an interior hallway wall. My question is whether posts would also need to be inserted in the basement below the point where the beam is supported by the hallway wall. Doing this would put posts in some inconvenient spots in the basement, but it seems to me that the load from the overhead beams has to be transmitted somewhere.

Thanks for your help.

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