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  • Writer's pictureTodd Engle

Load & Non-Load Bearing walls

Common Structural Terms

In this section of the course, let's learn about some common terms or phrases that are used in the construction and building industry, particularly related to a residential building. Understanding construction terminology and knowing the purposes of building components and framing members (for example, studs, plates, load-bearing walls) will help a home inspector to do a better home inspection. Even though most building components are not readily accessible and are not readily visible to a home inspector performing a home inspection on an existing (already built house), it's important to know how buildings and homes are built. Sometimes defects can be seen by a home inspector, because the hidden, covered, or inaccessible system or component has a problem.

The illustration shows some of the load-bearing and non-load bearing walls of a building. In the illustration, you'll see that the roof structure is made of roof trusses. Common roof trusses do not need any load-bearing support underneath them. They simply span from one exterior wall to the other without the need for any load-bearing columns or walls. So, in the illustration, there are two red-colored arrows pointing to stud walls on the 2nd floor. They are not actually supporting the trusses above. However, the three red-colored arrows that point to the first floor walls are pointing to load-bearing walls.

Bearing Wall

A bearing wall, or a load-bearing wall, is designed to carry the weight of structural components above, through itself, and to the supporting components below. Removal of or modification to bearing walls without specific design considerations can lead to loss of structural integrity of the dwelling. Sometimes, the structural weakness is seen almost immediately. In other cases, the weakness is discovered only over time.


This is a horizontally placed wooden, steel or engineered member which supports floor framing members. It is a primary support member, and it’s often supported by wooden or steel columns (or posts), exterior walls, or foundational

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