When you plan on modifying your home, you need to ensure that those modifications are safe. Some of the most common modifications involve creating new openings, such as doors or windows. Before carrying out such work, it is essential that your property is assessed to ensure that the modifications are safe. You cannot simply start knocking walls through without first checking that the construction location is suitable for modification. Load bearing structures are specifically planned to support the original architecture. However, when you install a new door or window, lintels, or load bearing structures, can become compromised. If the structure is sufficiently weakened by the modification, it could result in the supported structures collapsing.
Lintels are additional supporting structures, which are found above doors and windows. They are essentially load bearing structures made from timber, steel, concrete or other types of stone. They can also be decorative; however, they must support any heavy loads above the door or window. It is important to understand the difference between a decorative lintel and one that is load bearing. It is not enough to install them with a load bearing rating. An assessment will involve calculating the weight above the proposed door or window in order to ensure that the lintel reinforces the surrounding structure.
You will need lintels if the proposed modifications are going to compromise the structural integrity of the building. The type of material used will depend on the structure of your home. Load bearing structures are not necessarily constructed from stone or metal. Timber framed buildings also require load bearing support, so do not assume that you do not need lintels for additional support. If there is sufficient support to accommodate new windows or doors, you will not need to install additional lintels. However, they are often required under building codes. What’s more, if your builder is less than honourable, they may advise you that lintels are not required in order to cut corners. The absence of lintels won’t necessarily result in your home collapsing, however, it could cause enough structural damage to cost you in the long run.
Assuming that the modifications are approved and satisfy council building regulations, you could technically install the lintels yourself. However, installing lintels is a very difficult job. The calculations involved alone are complicated, before you even get to the hands-on task of installing the lintels. If you don’t know what you are doing, you are risking serious personal injury or costly damage to your home. The safer option is to hire a qualified builder. To help ensure that your builder is reliable, you can contact your local council to verify construction requirements are being met. You can also check that any tradesmen are properly licensed, via online databases such as the Licensed Trades website.
Besides checking that you can legally install doors or windows, it is a good idea having a building inspection carried out. Doing so will ensure that you are provided with the correct information, as a building inspector’s only job is to provide an honest and detailed report. Houspect building inspectors have the experience and expertise needed to perform a quality assessment of your home. A detailed report can include multiple locations, so that you can make the ultimate decision as to where you install your new doors or windows. Ultimately it is worth paying the money to have lintels installed where you want your modifications. Browse the Houspect website and see all the ways we can help you get the job done safely and professionally.