If you are dreaming of a more open floor plan, a wall might be all that is standing in your way. Before you get a sledgehammer out, you will need to check if that wall is load-bearing and plan for the removal process. Open concept rooms have been growing in popularity and are a great way to make your home feel bigger without adding square footage.
Before you even find out if the wall is load-bearing, you should consider the benefits and risks. The wall might be preventing you from remodeling your home. But removal takes time and can cost quite a bit depending on your home structure.
Benefits to Removing a Wall in Your Home:
- Improve the functionality and flow of your home.
- Create a more open floor plan in an older house.
- Increase the resale value.
- Appeal to potential buyers.
What is a Load-Bearing Wall?
Load-bearing walls are a major support structure in your home. They carry the weight of the roof or upper floor level. A non-load-bearing wall is often called a partition wall and serves only to separate rooms. When your home was built and designed, the architects and engineers planned the support structure and which walls are load-bearing walls essential to the structure.
Where Are Load-Bearing Walls Located?
Walls that run at a 90-degree angle to the floor joists above are likely to be load-bearing. However, occasionally there is a load-bearing wall that runs parallel or side-by-side to the joists. Additionally, exterior walls are almost always load-bearing. To determine if your wall is load-bearing or not, it is best to call a structural engineer.
Can Load-Bearing Walls Be Removed?
Yes, if you take specific precautions to retain the support structure of your home. This is not a good DIY project and can lead to serious personal and structural injury. In addition to hiring an engineer to check the wall, the engineer can also size a beam to carry the load that was originally transferred through the wall.
A proper structural inspection can determine if the wall is load-bearing or not. Structural inspections typically cost $300 to $700, not including drawing up plans. If a beam specification is required, this typically costs $400 + $100 for each additional beam. Drawings are created by an engineer who will design a beam to replace the wall and support the loads that were originally transferred through the wall. The entire process takes about a week. You will have the peace that the structural integrity of your home is not compromised, that the beam is built to code, and is safe for your family. This also allows you to get a more accurate bid from contractors.
How Do you Remove A Load-Bearing Wall?
After your wall is inspected by an engineer and you have determined it is load-bearing, you can decide to remove it or not. Before you start, there are a few more things to consider. Should you do it yourself or hire a contractor? And how much will it cost?
DIY vs Hiring A Contractor
As mentioned above, there is a great risk in removing a load-bearing wall yourself. Temporary supports must be in place to prevent the house from collapsing. Additional structural plans and modifications may be needed for the floor below as well. Aside from damaging the structure, there are other hazards as well. If your home was built before 1990, you may have asbestos in your walls. Ultimately, we do not suggest taking on this project yourself. No matter who is completing the project, you will likely need a building permit. If you need help finding the right person for the job, your engineer can help with the permit process.
Cost of Removing A Load-Bearing Wall
The price to remove a load-bearing wall in a single-story home is about $1,200 to $5,000, depending on what type and how many beams are needed. For homes with more than one level, the price will increase by several thousand dollars. If the wall in question is not load-bearing, you can expect to pay about $300 to $1,000.
RES Can Help
If you have decided you would like to remove a wall, RES can help. Our inspectors can determine if your wall is load-bearing or a partition wall and guide you to your next steps. Additionally, if you are not sure what to do about the wall or would like to modify the wall, we offer design and additional engineering services as well. Contact us for an inspection or design help.