Can I Take Down This Wall?
by Dave Muirhead

The question I get asked most often while performing a home inspection is  “Can I take down this wall?”   
The answer is not simple and requires knowing where the support for the framing exists within the walls. Your basement can give a clue on how the house is framed. Usually you have a main carrying beam that runs the length of the home. On top of this beam are the joists that support the first floor. 
In this picture, joists (grey) will travel from the front foundation wall to the center of the home where the opposite end sits on the beam (white). A second joist will travel from the beam to the back foundation wall (red) completing the first floor framing. 
The walls within the home that sit directly above the main beam provide support for the ceiling joists supporting the second floor (colonial) or the attic framing (ranch). This framing is similar to the basement framing, it’s just covered by the finish material, such as sheetrock. 
This picture shows the load bearing wall framing under the overlapped ceiling joists or attic framing.
Walls running parallel to the joists are non-load bearing partition walls, meant to separate the interior living spaces, not provide support for the structure. You could remove all interior partition walls and make the living area as open as the basement, providing the load bearing walls are left in place. 
When removing a wall it is critical to determine where the interior support exists. This is something you should leave to a licensed contractor.
If the wall you wish to open is a load bearing wall there are ways this can be done and we will address this in our next email.