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     Internal Building Alterations Projects


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Internal Building Alterations Projects



Internal building alterations, whether they be domestic, commercial or industrial,  are a constant facet of the building industry. In some cases, they require innovative solutions that involve complex designs.


But, the most common form of alteration is to create a new opening through a load-bearing wall. This may seem a simple matter at first glance, but where there may be unforeseen problems for the unsuspecting eye.  Indeed, as an example we have seen loft conversions where a wall has been removed, just hanging there by 'a wing and a prayer'. The unfortunate thing was that three young children were sleeping and playing in the area concerned at the time of inspection. Consequently it is highly advised when undertaking internal alterations that the client seeks the advice of a structural engineer before going any further - a small cost involved for what could be a very devastating family occurrence.


The main reasons why people undertake internal alterations are,


  • An increase in family numbers so an extra bedroom is required
  • A better living environment
  • A more modern living environment
  • to achieve an objective that usually involves a house extension project as well
  • formation of an office
  • formation of a granny flat
  • formation of a children's play area


Internal alteration projects usually involve,


  • Formation of a new internal opening in an internal load-bearing wall
  • Formation of a new opening in an external load-bearing wall (possibly to make access to a new extension or garden area)
  • Removal of several internal load-bearing walls to provide an open area
  • Formation of an enlarged Kitchen area
  • Loft conversions using substitution construction - either modern trussed or traditional roof conversions which require additional attention to fire regulations
  • Basement and cellar conversions, some requiring additional floor to ceiling height provided by excavation and dwarf retaining walls
  • Removal of existing chimney breasts and chimney stacks that all require the insertion of steel support beams. 
  • Openings in floors for new staircase access and lifts
  • Strengthening of existing foundations to support additional storey heights
  • Removal of defective beams and their replacement
  • Removal of defective masonry walls and their replacement
  • Removal of floors and their replacement
  • Additional steel support framework to increase higher loadings on floors
  • Formation of roof dormers, support structure and internal finishes



Example Case Study 

Another problem is that many builders in our experience use 'rule-of-thumb' guidance and that one beam fits all conditions. As an example of this a builder in 2008 had constructed a large house extension and where three large steel beams had been inserted to support the structure. The builder used the same 'rule-of-thumb' thinking to determine these beam sizes and where he had provided the same size of beams on a similar project previously. When the beams were checked by this practice (as the local authority building control officer had requested calculations from the builder), two of the beams were found to be satisfactory, but where unfortunately the third beam failed. Indeed, it was found to be stressed twice as great as it should have been. The difference was that this beam was supporting half of the total roof loading from this large extension. The solution that we provided so that the beams and extension would not have to be demolished, was to insert an addition bean that was transverse to the beam in question, splitting its span. The downside of this was that the builder and unfortunately the client had to share a cost of over 3,000 for this additional structural work (for the client had been told by her architect that structural beam calculations were necessary). But if it had been undertaken correctly at the start, it would have only meant the additional cost of a heavier beam, some 200 in extra cost and no more.  

This outlines the problem we feel that even though some builders have been in business for 40 years or more, the 'rule-of-thumb' cannot be expected to fit all cases. Therefore it is better to do the job right in the first place and employ a structural engineer. It is safer and can save a great deal of money in the long run. Our engineers in this respect are willing to advise any client if they have reservations about their builder's work.

But overall, there is only one way to do a job, do it right in the first place !





Office Contact - 01484.461193                          


Direct Contact - 07880661574          


Office: 48 Market Street, Milnsbridge, Huddersfield, HD3 4HY                                








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