When we walked into the house we are renovating the first thing that came out of my mouth is “that wall has to go.” To understand what I saw I made a floor plan of the house. You can see below that when you walk into the front door (lower left hand door) you enter directly into the living room. It looks small and really boxy, so much that I felt clausterphobic.
Here is the 3D view of the living room/kitchen/dining area. The kitchen was probably
originally walled up to with a door, but someone opened it up by putting by opening up an entryway from the dining room to the kitchen. This was a good start by opening up this entry way from the dining room to the kitchen. I am sure they chose to do this because it was more cost-effective. The wall that used to separate the dining room from the kitchen (that is now an entryway) is not a load bearing wall so you can tear it down easily
Here are actual pictures of the kitchen when we first walked into the home.
We wanted to take down the load bearing wall that separates the kitchen from the living room and move around the kitchen layout a little. Here is the floor plan we are going for when we are finished.
Here is the #D view. Don’t you like how open the kitchen and living room will be?
Please make sure, before you start knocking down walls, that you know which walls are load bearing in your home. We figured this wall was in fact, load bearing, because it runs down the middle and length of the house, but we asked the inspector just to be sure. The easy thing is to ask your inspector at your home inspection which walls are load bearing. It’s always good to know even if you are not doing anything. You can take down a load bearing wall but you have support the house by column supports or placing a massive beam in the attic. We wanted it completely open so we went for the beam. The goal is to get the beam in place and then drywall over it. You won’t even know it’s there (but you will be thankful that it is because you are safe from the roof collapsing.) So, we stripped the wall down to the studs and left the framing of the existing wall.
Before you take the wall down you have to build a temporary wall while you put the beam in place. Here is the temporary wall. You can see where the existing wall once was by the holes in the floor from the duct work.
When the temporary walls are holding the weight of the house, you can demo the original wall and place the beam in the attic connected to the joists and cross beams. (I am not sure if those are the technical terms. I will make sure I have those when I post about the beam).
Stay tuned for part two where the beam is in, temporary walls are gone and we are fully open.
If you are asking yourself…What does it cost to move a load bearing wall? Well, it depends on your wall, how big it is, and what is inside that wall. Here are the other things you have to think about when you want to knock down a wall. Some walls have a few of these obstacles and some have all. I want to be real and give you things that you can use in your own home.
Things to think through if you want to knock down a load bearing wall:
- Length and cost of the beam to support the house. You have to order a specific beam that meets code. Your local lumber company will know. This project is not a DIY project for us. We are paying someone to do this and the expert told us what we needed it and we ordered it from our local lumber company. (all you locals, we used Meeks)
- Duct Work – If you have a return air or vent that means you have duct work in your wall. This has to removed or moved to another location. Removing it is easy but rerouting means demoing another part of a wall or part of the floor. We had already planned to do some re-routing because we have to get a new system for this house. That was already in the plan so this was a simple fix.
- Flooring – You remove a wall then where the wall was will become a place where there is flooring. You have to factor in the cost of adding to your existing floor. The reality is that it is really hard to add to your existing floor so you will probably have to re-floor one area of the room or both. In this house, the nasty pet pee stained carpet in the living room and torn vinyl floor in the kitchen was planned to be replaced with wood floors so this was a cost already in the budget.
- Electrical – You for sure will have to call an electrician to re-route the wires from outlets and switches to somewhere else. We were lucky because there was none here!
- Drywall – You will have to patch the ceiling drywall and texture it to match the existing ceiling.
- Labor and materials. When it comes to the structure of a home, Lee and will almost always contract it out. Framing materials and drywall are not expensive but labor can be. We usually buy the materials for the laborer to avoid the mark-up. Our guy is great with that and gives us a list of what he will need. Some sub-contractors are not okay with doing this, so make sure you ask before you hire him.
Stay tuned for the final product. I will share pics and my thoughts on when a good time to “take a wall down” in a home renovation.
Thanks for reading!