Engineering Design

Some facts about load bearing walls that trip up even so called experts … 

  • Load bearing walls can have 1, 2, or 3 top plates.  Non-bearing walls can have 1 or 2 top plates.
  • Stud spacing is often 16” but can range from 12” to 24”. Stud spacing in non-bearing walls is often 24” but many are built with 16” stud spacing even though not required by code.
  • Load bearing walls often run perpendicular to floor joists but not always.  Non-bearing walls can run in either direction.

Construction plans help but they are rarely available, and having them is no guaranty that contractors built everything as drawn.  DIY  past owners sometimes neglect getting a permit and leave no record of their handiwork. 

Phase 1 – Load bearing wall evaluation.  We have a licensed engineer inspect the house from roof to foundation identifying the load paths.  We use using laser measuring, flexible scope cameras, stud finders, infrared cameras, and probing to see into floor and wall cavities.  We provide a detailed report with options, limitations, and recommendations for structural modifications.

Phase 2 – Design/Construction Plans.  We design beams, posts, fasteners, foundation reinforcement, and produce certified construction plans.  We work with homeowners and contractors -- both rate us #1 in quality, service, and cost for residential structural engineering in the Twin Cities. 



 Most projects, regardless of our involvement, start with an inspection.  Our most common inspection types are:

  • Load bearing walls
  • Foundation and/or water intrusion
  • Home inspections for buyers or owners
  • Damage assessments for sagging floors, racking walls, cracks

Most home inspectors in MN are certified (voluntarily), they receive extensive training, and they provide a valuable service to homeowners and buyers. They know what to look for and what not to comment on.  Home inspectors almost never give their opinions on seriousness of damage, cause of damage, building code compliance, repair options, or cost of repairs the very advice that consumers need the most.

For projects with a heavy structural emphasis it is best to employ the services of an engineer or architect trained in the mathematics and science of structures. Residential Building Consultants, LLC is an engineering firm that caters to buyers, sellers, real estate agents, contractors, and insurance companies.  We go beyond engineering by leveraging our education, training, and experience in home inspections, residential contracting, forensics, and real estate sales, to give our clients the advice they need to make better decisions.


Construction Plans

Residential Building Consultants, LLC provides complete CADD drafting services from small projects such as load bearing wall removal, to medium sized remodeling projects, to complete custom homes.  Example projects that we’ve worked on:

  • Custom house plans
  • 3 and 4 season porches
  • Decks, pergolas, gazebos, porticos, balconies
  • Retaining walls
  • Dormers or room-in-attic conversions
  • Roof and floor truss design and alteration
  •  Wind bracing

Not every residential project requires or warrants involvement by an engineer.  Prescriptive designs (covered by applicable building codes) can be done by anyone as long as the City plan reviewer and Building Official is comfortable.  Complex and unique projects that fall outside the Building Code guidelines should be designed by professionals.

Most cities do not require plans be drawn to scale using CADD, but don’t be surprised if your hand drawn sketches are not approved.  Having professionally drawn plans gives everyone confidence to move forward: owners, plan reviewers, contractors, inspectors, mortgage/insurance companies, future prospective buyers.  CADD drawings can be accurately scaled, easily shared, printed and reproduced, and provide a permanent record of what was built.