Structural partition?

28 Nov 2020
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United Kingdom
We recently bought a circa 1870 semi and have noticed something that seems unusual to me. The horizontal internal walls in the below picture appear to be stud. There appears to be a beam and brick columns about 200mm below the wall to the left of the middle door but none to the wall on the right where the stairs are. The landing is above. Is this normal? A builder mentioned something about structural stud. The wall appears old as it's far from straight and the skirting follows it perfectly (I assume).

FT_2022-01-02 23_20_26.218.png

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I don't understand your description or your drawing. Perhaps there are some posts holding up the staircase.

There is such a thing as a Trussed Partition Wall which hangs on the walls at each end, with nothing underneath it. You must not cut a doorway into one, but it might have been designed and built with an opening. If you chip the plaster off you can see how the timber frame is built. It is a sort of deep, self-supporting beam.
Sorry, a bit confusing. I was trying to say that the horizontal wall appears to be stud but I can only find structure to the upper floor in the room on the left, nothing in the side of the hallway.

Perhaps it is as you say between the vertical walls in the middle and the one on the right. I'll try to check
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You may well find your wall is a stud wall, in that it has verticals, noggins, sole plate etc, but is then infilled with brick to provide a surface to plaster. Often stands on just a doubled ceiling joist underneath and the studs will be fastened to the ceiling joists above.
The other thing to watch for, particularly in Victorian buildings, is what is above the stud wall. Whilst the original stud wall may not have been structural when built, settlement can sometimes add load such walls.

The infill one is interesting - I don't see those very often - but I do see stud walls with diagonal braces, M&T joints into the sole plate/header and thicker studs either side of door openings - all indicative of structural loading
Thanks all, somewhat reassuring

I've also noticed that I think the ground floor floor joist are loose as the floor vibrates a lot when the child jumps and there is a small, local change in level that runs perpendicular under the wall in question, from reception into hall for about a metre. I think the wall has dropped a little as cracks of about a mm wide at the top (tapering to hairline cracks towards floor level) have appeared at the joins of the stud and brick walls on the first floor. It's like the wall as sunk or tipped a little. All in my non-expert opinion of course.

Sorry if not very clear
In Victorian buildings the joists are often pocketed into the masonry, but that in turn is a rot point, especially in solid brick walls and/or where the floor is below or at the level of the land outside. You can also get settlement, and in some cases builders used timbers which weren't fully seasoned and these can shrink over time as they dry out. Don't worry - the floor hasn't collapsed so it should be structurally OK for a while. TBH the cracking tends to be more indicative of settlement, as you suspect.

Old buildings tend to be a bit like that
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Timbers - predictive text or auto correct on my phone...

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