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Photo Questions
Photo Questions

ChristineJanuary 9, 2012
Hi Ben,

I am new here at Houzz so forgive me if I break any question asking rules. We own a Brownstone in Clinton Hill. My question is. What exactly is involved in removing the (supposed load bearing) walls on both the parlor and garden floors. My next question is I see a radiator cover but am very interested in running HVAC for better air quality. Is that possible in an old Brownstone?

Park Slope Brownstone · More Info
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DeCocco Design
You need to schedule a visit with a local contractor who knows codes, products and exactly what is typicaly behind the walls in houses like yours. Removing load bearing walls is possible because they put an I-beam in the ceiling to spread the load in the other direction. Not a small, easy, neat job, but a wonderful way to get more open space. This is a gorgeous room!
    Bookmark   January 9, 2012 at 7:32AM
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Ben Herzog
Hi Christine-

Typically, in attached late 19th / early 20th century NYC rowhouses, the bearing wall (the wall that is running parallel to the masonry party walls, usually near the stairs and directly above the cellar columns or arches) is actually a 'bounce' wall. It depends on the width of the house and how it was framed, but usually, the joists (the 'beams' running across the house) are actually supported on / pocketed into the masonry party walls and span the whole width of the house and the 'bearing / bounce' wall is there to keep them from deflecting or bouncing too much in the middle of the house. What that means is that it is sometimes possible to remove portions of the bearing wall by putting in a beam where the wall was as Anne points out above and it is sometimes possible to 'sister' the existing joists with other beams running in the same direction so that they can span the whole distance from brick to brick without any need for a bounce wall. This is a very long-winded explanation and every case is unique so I would recommend that you bring in a good architect who can in turn recommend a good contractor and good structural engineer to figure out what would work for you.

For your HVAC question, are you thinking about forced air heating and cooling? It is definitely done all the time in townhouses, it is sometimes difficult to find the best places for ductwork and equipment, but it can certainly be done.

I hope this helps you somewhat...
1 Like    Bookmark   January 9, 2012 at 8:49AM
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DeCocco Design
Oh, that was a great answer. I'm going to save it!
    Bookmark   January 10, 2012 at 6:32AM
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Thank you both for responding. Ben, we have had 2 contractors in to look at the HVAC and I think they ran screaming because my only non-negotiable was they could not hack up the plaster ceilings. Once they knew that they were hesitant to go further. My hubby also thinks it would be impossible to take down the center walls (the ones that run front to back) on both the garden and parlor floors without some major sagging taking place. So I am sort of stuck in limbo.

I will keep watching what you post. Your work is lovely.
    Bookmark   January 10, 2012 at 6:23PM
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This is so inviting! What treatment is on the ceiling? It really is beautiful!
    Bookmark   November 9, 2012 at 5:49AM
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Would you mind sharing what color/brand paint you used...the walls are wonderful!
    Bookmark   December 23, 2012 at 3:31AM
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