Q: I'm considering moving the wall between my kitchen and dining room. How do I determine whether this is a load-bearing wall? If it is, what do I have to do to maintain my home's structural integrity?
A: The main clue to whether the wall is load-bearing—which means it helps bear the weight of the roof or the floor above—will be found under the wall itself. Look at the basement ceiling for a wall or beam running along the same line as the wall upstairs. If you find a supporting wall below, this usually indicates that the wall above is load-bearing. The weight of the ceiling transfers downward from one wall to the one beneath, and then to the ground. If your home is on a slab, you can look in the attic to see whether the wall supports structural members—ceiling joists, beams, or rafters.
Removing a load-bearing wall is not a DIY project. Any time you change the structure of your house, you should consult an engineer or architect. They will determine the load of the floor or ceiling above the wall and calculate how to remove the wall safely. Structural changes to your house will likely require a city or county building permit.