Walls - Remove or Add

"Nothing says HGTV® like removing walls." While that may give us a chuckle, there's also a good reason the desire to remove walls has become a common request: it makes a major statement. Taking walls out opens spaces up. It improves "flow" throughout a floorplan, enlarges small rooms, incorporates what might have previously been a useless space into the main living area, and increases social interaction.


We most frequently encounter wall removal plans in kitchen and bathroom remodels, where enlarging the space is not just aesthetic but purposeful. Removing the wall between kitchen and dining room (which oftentimes goes unused by families) and/or living room not only gives that desired "open floorplan", but allows more creativity in designing a functional kitchen. Incorporate an island or peninsula where there wasn't room before. Add auxiliary ovens, wet bars, prep areas, relocate sinks -- the options are endless with more space. For bathrooms, homeowners often expand their master bathroom

into an adjacent closet. Or remove a linen closet in a hall bath to make room for a walk-in shower or larger vanity. 

We also oftentimes simply enlarge existing openings such as those between a kitchen and dining room, or a hallway and a family room.

All that being said, removing walls is not as easy as they make it look on TV! We don't just take a sledgehammer to a wall and start swinging, or kick it and cheer. Taking a wall out is a surgical procedure. It is definitely not a DIY project. And it should not be undertaken by an inexperienced or unqualified contractor. In fact, many general liability policies exclude structural modifications. If your home collapses, you're left holding the bag! The main reason is due to load-bearing walls, which are structural, not merely room dividers. Load-bearing walls hold up the second floor and roof of your home and tie the structure all together. Improperly remove a load-bearing wall, and you literally risk your home collapsing at worst, and a whole host of other major problems at best.

When a load-bearing wall is removed, it must be replaced by a beam to carry and redistribute the weight of the structure above. There are many materials used to do this and different ways this can be done. One of the biggest considerations is whether you want the beam to be below the plane of the ceiling or recessed into the ceiling so it isn't visible. The latter is quite a bit more expensive and in some cases isn't even possible depending on many factors. But it is something for you to think about and we will discuss your options with you.

 

There are rules of thumb to identify which walls are load-bearing, but they are not foolproof. Therefore, you need the experience of knowing the "rules" are not always accurate, and know how to actually identify structural walls. 


When we remove a load bearing wall, our structural engineer is always consulted. Oftentimes, we have to add additional support in the basement in the form of posts and concrete footings. Needless to say, it's a serious undertaking.

Preparing the basement for a new footing and post

There are occasions when we also add dividing walls. For example, to make one large

bedroom into two, or adding a closet. Or, dividing a large rec room in abasement. Or even in kitchens: sometimes a more functional layout is to have more cabinets than can fit on one long wall. Adding a wall gives more space for cabinets. 

The photos in the project gallery have some examples of different wall projects we have completed.

What to expect...

Removing a non-load-bearing wall, including rewiring any electric receptacles and light switches and repairing the drywall costs a couple thousand dollars.

For removing entire load-bearing walls completely, we charge a minimum of $5,000.

Before

After