D.H. from Guilford County, North Carolina writes:
Dear Mister Condo,
I’m updating my condo after 13+ years of residence and 17-years of existence. This is the first work of any type to be done on the unit since it was built. It’s time! The big thing I’m attempting to do (and have been for 11 years) is cut-down a half-wall behind my kitchen counter (with the sink – facing into the main living area) and create an eat-at breakfast bar/seating area. There is more than enough length/depth to do this after a new granite top is added. The big thing is potentially creating a feature wall from the end-cap of the half-wall (L-shaped). It will extend to ceiling height (8-ft) and contain no plumbing/electrical. The idea is section-off/break-up the huge space (tired of having a kitchen in my living room!).
The potential issue is the new wall will block the only vent for kitchen/dining area and main living area (aside from the sunroom vent which is partially blocked as well). The designers evidently used the same duct layout from the one-bedroom units in the two-bedroom units’ main living space… The QUESTION – can the CURRENT vent be moved over laterally to clear the NEW wall AND can a ‘T’ be spliced into the same flex-duct run, allowing an additional vent be added (via short run flex duct) into the face of a cathedral tray ceiling in the main living area? If so what effect would this have on the performance of the vents? I have access to the attic (top floor unit) and realize that this would possibly need approval from the HOA board.
Mister Condo replies:
D.H., this sounds like a great improvement you are proposing. Even channeling my inner Bob Vila, I am not sure I can give you any answers that you can use to finalize your plans. You should speak to a licensed and insured HVAC expert on the air handling capacity of your current system before doing any duct work, even if you do it yourself. You may or may not need the HOA’s permission for work done in the interior of your unit although if you live in a condo (versus a free-standing home in an HOA) you would definitely need permission to work in the attic as that may be association-owned. It doesn’t sound like you will be removing any walls but if you are, you also need an engineering study to make sure you aren’t removing or damaging a load-bearing wall. Other than those consideration, as long as your governing documents don’t restrict the type of project you are planning, the HOA may not have any concerns with what you are doing. You may need permission for any contractors to be on property and they may need to show insurance holding the association harmless for their work but that is about it. I hope you get the dining room / kitchen / living area that you desire. Good luck!