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How to recognize a load-bearing wall in a condominium?


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I am not sure if the correct term is load-bearing wall or supporting wall or maybe that is interchangeable.

 

My question is if I want to buy a condominium (not new) which I consider renovating from scratch: Is there an easy way to "see" if a wall in that condominium could be removed without any structural problems?

I am sure it should be possible to ask the condominium management - if they have someone competent working there.

But maybe here are some construction experts who know easier ways to know how to detect a load-bearing wall.

My question is restricted to condominiums in high rise buildings in Bangkok.

Maybe the wall thickness is already a clear indicator or knocking on the wall to detect if it is concreate or what is an easy way to detect that - if such an easy method exists.

Thanks

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You will need permission from The Management before doing any renovation anyway, but as above it's likely that internal walls are not load bearing.

 

If the wall is obviously hollow it's going to be a simple partition.

 

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8 minutes ago, Oldie said:

Load bearing walls in high rise buildings? Normally they just have beams and you can take away every wall. 

Ha...go for it.

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26 minutes ago, Crossy said:

You will need permission from The Management before doing any renovation anyway, but as above it's likely that internal walls are not load bearing.

 

If the wall is obviously hollow it's going to be a simple partition.

 

You don't need a permission if you do something inside your condo. You have to inform them and stick to the times when construction is allowed. 

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51 minutes ago, Oldie said:

Load bearing walls in high rise buildings? Normally they just have beams and you can take away every wall

That's what I found when I renovated a Holiday Condo some years back, --- the beam was at the top of the wall --there were 2 beams in the condo (which was a very large 3 BR) I took  it that there would have also been beams between the dividing Condo walls. 

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49 minutes ago, holy cow cm said:

It will be the one with the stress load crack in it. 

Not if the sheeting is dry wall.

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Thanks for your answers.

I just had a thought myself. If the condo has a drop ceiling (at least somewhere) then it might be possible to see the concrete or brick walls. (the picture is just an example from the internet)

Suspend-Ceilings-vs.-Drywall-for-the-Bas

 

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16 minutes ago, OneMoreFarang said:

Thanks for your answers.

I just had a thought myself. If the condo has a drop ceiling (at least somewhere) then it might be possible to see the concrete or brick walls. (the picture is just an example from the internet)

Suspend-Ceilings-vs.-Drywall-for-the-Bas

 

Without having the plans for the building skeletal plans it is or can be dangerous just guessing what us or is not load bearing in Thailand as the construction codes are not at the same level as other developed countries. Typically internal walls on a condo should not be load bearing but caution  should be followed as shortcuts could have been made during construction that you won't be aware of. Removal of walls even if not true load bearing especially in older buildings could cause flexing of the concrete or metal decking in the floor above causing stress fractures to the condo above which could come back on you for financial remediation. 

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Here a construction project of a condo here in Thailand. You can see the beams and columns. A friend of mine damaged by accident even the outside wall of the building. So look that you get a good construction company. But these walls are all not load-bearing. Only the beams and columns. 

16151373370480.jpg

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On 3/7/2021 at 5:59 PM, Oldie said:

Load bearing walls in high rise buildings? Normally they just have beams and you can take away every wall. 

    Not true.  I've owned lots of condos in lots of different projects and many of the units have had load-bearing columns or walls in the unit.  My current condo has two large, load-bearing columns.  Often, they can be spotted if there is a notch in the wall.  The notches are awkward and would not be there except for the load-bearing wall or column.  

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On 3/7/2021 at 6:27 PM, Oldie said:

You don't need a permission if you do something inside your condo. You have to inform them and stick to the times when construction is allowed. 

   Wrong.  You certainly do need permission if you are making any sort of construction changes and your plans need to be approved for the building's safety--especially if you have the mistaken impression that all interior condo walls can be knocked down willy-nilly. 

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1 minute ago, newnative said:

    Not true.  I've owned lots of condos in lots of different projects and many of the units have had load-bearing columns or walls in the unit.  My current condo has two large, load-bearing columns.  Often, they can be spotted if there is a notch in the wall.  The notches are awkward and would not be there except for the load-bearing wall or column.  

Yes - they have columns and beams like all these high rise and most other buildings. But I never saw a construction with a load bearing wall here especially in buildings with many floors. 

images.jpeg.jpg

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9 minutes ago, newnative said:

   Wrong.  You certainly do need permission if you are making any sort of construction changes and your plans need to be approved for the building's safety--especially if you have the mistaken impression that all interior condo walls can be knocked down willy-nilly. 

Inside your condo you can do what you want. Of course you and the construction company will be responsible for any damage to common property. I did 2 condo renovations here already and never needed an approval. In both cases ALL internal walls got completely removed. The condos were completely rebuild.

 

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   Here's an example of a condo with an interior load-bearing wall  in the middle of the condo.  There are also load-bearing walls at either end of the condo--the thicker black walls.  While it might be nice to knock down that middle wall in the living room and make one big, open space, please don't. 

images.jpg

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4 minutes ago, Oldie said:

Inside your condo you can do what you want. Of course you and the construction company will be responsible for any damage to common property. I did 2 condo renovations here already and never needed an approval. In both cases ALL internal walls got completely removed. The condos were completely rebuild.

 

Yikes.

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OP, as in the photo above, internal walls are not usually load bearing, drive around and look at some condo blocks being built, you will see the internal walls and external wall are built after the structure is built.

The only exception would maybe be where the bed etc is up on a mezzanine level inside a double height space

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4 minutes ago, newnative said:

   Here's an example of a condo with an interior load-bearing wall  in the middle of the condo.  There are also load-bearing walls at either end of the condo--the thicker black walls.  While it might be nice to knock down that middle wall in the living room and make one big, open space, please don't. 

images.jpg

A good example but its not really an internal wall, its one of the vertical columns holding the building up. It would be 2 foot thick and made of reinforced concrete.

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3 minutes ago, Peterw42 said:

A good example but its not really an internal wall, its one of the vertical columns holding the building up. It would be 2 foot thick and made of reinforced concrete.

    It looks more like a short wall to me but, semantics aside, these vertical support columns or short support walls are sometimes part of a longer, interior wall, often spotted because there is sometimes a notch in the wall where it doesn't need to be as thick.  The part of the wall that is not load-bearing can certainly be removed but the vertical support column needs to remain.  The point I was trying to make is that it's sometimes not possible to completely open up a space and take out all the walls, be they short or long.  In my example you would still have that short wall--or very wide support column, whichever way you want to term it.   

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On 3/7/2021 at 9:32 PM, OneMoreFarang said:

I am not sure if the correct term is load-bearing wall or supporting wall or maybe that is interchangeable.

 

My question is if I want to buy a condominium (not new) which I consider renovating from scratch: Is there an easy way to "see" if a wall in that condominium could be removed without any structural problems?

I am sure it should be possible to ask the condominium management - if they have someone competent working there.

But maybe here are some construction experts who know easier ways to know how to detect a load-bearing wall.

My question is restricted to condominiums in high rise buildings in Bangkok.

Maybe the wall thickness is already a clear indicator or knocking on the wall to detect if it is concrete or what is an easy way to detect that - if such an easy method exists.

Thanks

Load-bearing walls can be removed easily as long as simply processes are followed, then replaced by structural header beams to open up, and combine rooms. You gotta check the strength and quality of the walls either side of the proposed opening!

Find a structural engineer (a few good English and other Euro dudes around Thailand) to pre-and post inspect, advise, and give material specs in writing for such work to you that way you are covered legally if anything goes wrong with the build.  There shouldn't be any problems as long as you provide solid temporary support of the structure above your apartment using akros and heavy temporary beams across the span of the work area prior to installing the steel RSJ beam across the newly opened space.

You might need to build some brick pillars at either end of the space against the wall for the header RSJ beam to sit on .... this will depend on whether the struc. engineer says the walls can carry the load of an RSJ header beam. If the answer is yes to this form the engineer then maybe you can cut into the wall and insert the RSJ header beam into these ... it all depends of the thickness, integrity/quality of the existing walls either side of the space you open up.

If you want to make a feature of the new header beam you can clad it in timber to make it look like a wooden header beam and ad more faux beams throughout the room to add an accent throughout.

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Yes  you  need to instruct  an engineer and check his professional  indemnity  insurance! Knocking out a structural wall could cause progressive collapse of the entire  block.  Google Ronan Point if you want to  see what that looks like! 

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17 minutes ago, chilly07 said:

Yes  you  need to instruct  an engineer and check his professional  indemnity  insurance! Knocking out a structural wall could cause progressive collapse of the entire  block.  Google Ronan Point if you want to  see what that looks like! 

Yes - in the worst case something like this below could happen. Hopefully the insurance will pay then 😊 But on a more serious note. Always check the insurance of the construction company. If there is any at all... 

 

 

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On 3/7/2021 at 9:29 PM, OneMoreFarang said:

Thanks for your answers.

I just had a thought myself. If the condo has a drop ceiling (at least somewhere) then it might be possible to see the concrete or brick walls. (the picture is just an example from the internet)

Suspend-Ceilings-vs.-Drywall-for-the-Bas

 

If it is a "modular" type, you can not remove any wall. Unless there is a simple divider somewhere.

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6 hours ago, newnative said:

   Wrong.  You certainly do need permission if you are making any sort of construction changes and your plans need to be approved for the building's safety--especially if you have the mistaken impression that all interior condo walls can be knocked down willy-nilly. 

Yeah...I needed an inspection by the building engineer for replacing the kitchen and had to submit plans for approval.  Then, after the electrical work was done, it had to be inspected before the kitchen was installed.  I also had to have the engineer come when I mounted the tv on the wall so that he could verify that the installers weren’t going to drill into any wiring buried in the wall.

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In some respects as a term, all walls can be 'load bearing'. Absolutely in timber frame buildings.  My response would be to work with the building management team who should hopefully provide you with detailed drawings and calcs.  In the UK you would also need to consult with any neighbouring properties which I would expect to be anyone above and below your property. Always best to follow the correct and documented route as otherwise it could be a problem selling the property in the future.

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On 3/7/2021 at 5:32 PM, OneMoreFarang said:

I am not sure if the correct term is load-bearing wall or supporting wall or maybe that is interchangeable.

 

My question is if I want to buy a condominium (not new) which I consider renovating from scratch: Is there an easy way to "see" if a wall in that condominium could be removed without any structural problems?

I am sure it should be possible to ask the condominium management - if they have someone competent working there.

But maybe here are some construction experts who know easier ways to know how to detect a load-bearing wall.

My question is restricted to condominiums in high rise buildings in Bangkok.

Maybe the wall thickness is already a clear indicator or knocking on the wall to detect if it is concreate or what is an easy way to detect that - if such an easy method exists.

Thanks

The moment the ceiling falls upon your head you will know it was a supporting wall...😈💪

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To cakm yourself, 

1. knock with a small hammer on the walls in different points. Light walls will give you loud eco.Concrete walls will give you light eco and you will feel the hardness of the concrete

2. Take a light cordless drill with concrete drill and make few test drills. If it is concrete you will feel the resistance in depth of 3 mm. If it is light wall you will penetrate it easily. You can fix the hols with any putty.

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