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Opening up masonry wall - new lintel

Postby WilliamB » Wed Nov 24, 2021 2:07 pm

Hi all,

I’m renovating a Victorian terrace flat and I’ve had plans to take section of an awkward masonry wall out in the kitchen which formed an old chimney breast.

Existing wall height is just above kitchen counter so not very practical. The plan would be to open up the wall and place a new lintel higher up (see annotated picture attached).

When I started to take plaster off to see existing lintel and masonry, the single skin masonry wall is a mish mash with some random stone and quite poor quality in general (see additional pictures). Some of this is even loose enough so that it’s free to move on top of the lintel.

This has left me a little unsure as to how to proceed.

Assuming this single skin masonry wall that I’ve exposed picks up timber floor joists from the floor above then it must be taking some level 1 floor load and therefore the poor quality brickwork is just distributing it across the lintel and it is arching over any loose brickwork.

I’m now concerned about 2 things. Firstly, if the rest of the wall is also poor quality or irregular stone, I’d be concerned that by taking the thick layer of plaster off its face to identify a new lintel level etc. it might become unstable. Secondly, with a new lintel installed at a higher level I’d then be relying on the load being split between the two perpendicular walls at each of the edges/ supports- where the brickwork is also quite poor.

To be absolutely sure my plan was to install props first thing before I take off any more plaster incase the single skin wall became unstable. This would also allow me to install some new bricks on the perpendicular walls at each of the lintel edges/ supports before the new lintel goes in. Downside to this being I may need props in for a few weeks to allow the masonry/ new lintel stages to be properly done.

Does anyone have any thoughts on if this would be a good plan? Or if there was a better way to approach it?

I’m a structural engineer consultant by day but have little experience in the functional aspects of residential builders work so any help/advice would be greatly appreciated!

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Postby stoneyboy » Fri Nov 26, 2021 9:51 pm

Hi williamb,
The flank walls of your chimney breast appear to join the main room wall so they will remain stable even if you removed the complete front section of the chimney breast. It would be wise to fit a couple of acrows with strongboys fitted at ceiling level until you have the new lintol in place.
Regards S
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