Removing walls – what you need to know

If you are removing internal or external load-bearing walls in a domestic property made from bricks and concrete blocks, this website can help by providing a steel beam calculation report. It’s much quicker and more affordable than employing a structural engineer and is ideal for straightforward structural work – there are 46 different calculation types, grouped by the nature of your project, for example calculations for beams that need to support cavity walls, internal walls, floor joists, flat roof joists and so on.

However, it’s important that you understand the rules about removing walls and when you need to call in a structural engineer instead of using our website.

Use a competent builder
It sounds obvious but it’s important that any building work is carried out by a competent builder. Trying to cut corners when it comes to building expertise will only cost you more in the long-run and could make work unsafe or illegal.

Commercial buildings or non-masonry buildings
If your property is a commercial building such as an office or shop, or if it’s made from materials other than bricks and concrete blocks, this website won’t meet your requirements and you will need an experienced structural engineer to design your steel beams.

Getting building regulations approval
If you are using this website, you will already know that you need to get building regulations approval if you are: creating a new building, extending or structurally altering an existing building, or installing services or fittings such as sanitary facilities or windows. Building regulations approval is not the same as planning permission, which you may also need. If you are the owner of the property, you are ultimately responsible, so make sure your builder has complied with these rules.

Calculations and plans for any steel beams will need to be sent to a Building Control Officer to gain building regulations approval, and this is where we can help. This website provides high quality steel beam calculation reports for this purpose. Our founder, Kevin Taylor, used to check calculations like these for a local authority, so he knows exactly what’s required.

The Building Control Officer will check that the calculations and building works comply with the building regulations. You can appoint a Building Control Officer from your local council or you can use a private sector approved inspector.

Find out more about the approval process

Weak or damaged masonry
If the proposed steel beam will be supported by masonry that is weak or damaged, we recommend that your competent builder re-builds this masonry.

Larger or less stable structures
Sometimes when knocking out a load-bearing wall, you will need to install a sort of steel goal post (where the steel beam is supported at both ends by steel posts). This is usually required when there isn’t enough masonry for the building to remain stable. If steel goal posts are required, this website won’t meet your requirements and you will need an experienced structural engineer to design these for you.

Steel goal posts are not generally required if the geometry of the masonry complies with the guidance in the Building Regulations Approved Document A (check diagrams 5 and 14). It’s hard to summarise this document, but as a rough guide you won’t need steel goal posts if:

*you have walls on all four sides and the floor area does not exceed 70m², or

*you have walls on three sides and the floor area does not exceed 36m².

Adequate foundations
The existing foundations are usually good enough to support the steel beams, however, the foundations should be exposed and inspected by your Building Control Officer. We have restricted the length of steel beam that you can select, to ensure that the loads applied to the foundations are not excessive.

General rules about steel beams
* The ends of steel beams should not be located above lintels or door or window openings.

* The ends of steel beams should not clash with any existing beams or lintels.

* The steel beam should not be inserted into a chimney and should not be within 50mm of a flue.

* The steel beam should be seated on a large piece of load bearing masonry, with a plan area of bonded masonry of at least 0.1m².

* The steel beam must have at least 100mm end bearing and should be seated on padstones as indicated on our calculations.

*The supporting masonry should comply with the requirements of Approved Document A.

If you have any questions about any of this, feel free to contact us.