Hot Topics: Uncovered Some Strange Old Framing. Fix it?

An improperly framed window.
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You never know what you’re going to find when you open up a wall. When the sheetrock hid framing that was okay way back when, but is less than acceptable today, what should you do? And what are you obligated to do? The Forum brings you up to code.

Original Post: Doors/Windows with no header?

boblc123 Member

I'm gutting a room of a 1920 or 30s house to the studs to hang new drywall and noticed the door to the bathroom and the window both do not have headers. The door to the bathroom used to be an exterior wall, but the bathroom was built on sometime in the 90s I think. Since both walls are/were exterior walls, I assume they are both load bearing. When did code ever allow for windows/doors with no headers? Here's some pictures.

Hot Topics, Uncovered Some Strange Old Framing. Fix it?

Highlights from the Thread

XSleeper Member

That's fairly normal for houses of that age, with balloon framing. The sheathing, which is usually heavy 1x6 or 1x8 was generally sufficient to span a few window openings here and there. Not a perfect method, which is why most places now have established building codes... so that there is some sort of minimum building standard.

In your bottom picture for example, that window is clearly not original, it was added later and it really should have had a header installed over it, rather than cutting yet another load bearing stud. When doing remodeling, you generally need to do your best to bring things up to current building codes. So in your pictures, if you are simply adding insulation or drywall, you really aren't obligated to put in headers... because the extent of the remodel doesn't include any framing alterations. But if you rip out that bottom window, you would be obligated to reframe that window opening so that it meets current standards. And you probably won't find that in writing anywhere, but it’s what your building dept. and inspector would expect.

joecaption1 Member

I for sure would at least reframe that window. You’re also going to have to add fire blocking at all the tops and bottoms of those walls.

The new framing is not going to be as thick as that old framing, just add some wooden lattes as shims.
Often times nailers will need to be added in the inside corners to attach the sheetrock to.

boblc123 Member

I believe there's already a fireblock at the top and bottom. It doesn't appear to be balloon framing. I can see a top plate and a bottom plate that the studs are nailed to.

XSleeper Member

Still not surprising. Advice is the same.

boblc123 Member

Thanks for the input. I appreciate it.

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