Growing popularity for open plan layouts has been driving most renovations over the last couple of years. One of the most common methods adopted is removing interior walls to provide greater flexibility, converting smaller rooms into a larger, brighter space, and remodeling old homes to befit modern living.
Before deciding to remove the interior wall, it is essential to evaluate the type and purpose of the wall.
Interior walls are of two types serving different purposes – non-load-bearing walls and load-bearing walls. Load-bearing walls offer structural stability to the property. It supports the weight of various elements such as an attic, roof, joists, and upper floors. On the other hand, non-load-bearing walls, though attached to the ceiling, do not support any other structure but themselves. These walls may serve multiple purposes: walls separating rooms, closet walls, soundproofing, and angular walls to increase space utility.
HOW DO YOU KNOW IF THE WALL IS LOAD-BEARING?
The most convenient way to determine the nature of the wall is to consult a builder or a structural engineer. They can help you identify if the wall is load-bearing and the structure it is supporting. Alternatively, below are some of the ways by which you can identify the type of the wall:
- All exterior walls are load-bearing walls that form the perimeter or outer frame of the house. If the wall in question runs perpendicular to the floor joist above, it is indicative of a load-bearing wall. However, few load-bearing walls run parallel to joists. On the contrary, if the wall runs parallel to the joists, it is probably a non-load-bearing wall. In such cases, the wall is usually aligned directly under a single joist or bear-on blocking between two adjacent joists.
- Partial walls may also be load-bearing. The best way to know is to check with the builder on the purpose of the partial wall.
- If the wall is on a higher floor, you may check for a support frame directly below the wall in the basement or crawl space. In case there is no support structure, it is a non-load-bearing wall.
BUILDING REGULATIONS AND PLANNING PERMISSIONS FOR REMOVAL OF INTERIOR WALLS
Unless the removal of an interior wall is affecting the property structure, it is best to apply for permits with the city/county permit agency. Additionally, plumbing, electrical, and HVAC inspections and permits are required before any changes are made. Permits may also be necessary in case of additional installations/replacements.
On the other hand, load-bearing walls are treated differently, and removal requires building permits in most cities. If any plumbing or electrical wires are in your load-bearing wall, you will usually need separate permits for those as well.
It is best advised to visit the city website or connect with the planning or building department for more information. You may also connect with an experienced design professional who can share the updated information relevant to your city.
REMOVAL OF NON-LOAD-BEARING WALLS
Removing a non-load-bearing wall is a messy job but doable with a planned approach. It is essential to check the wall for plumbing, wiring, or other elements.
Identify What is Inside the Wall
Interior walls may sometimes have service and utility lines running through them. If the wall has vents in it, it contains HVAC ducts and pipes. A sink/tub or toilet supported by the wall indicates the presence of water lines. Similarly, the switches and power outlets on the wall indicate the presence of electrical wiring. In such cases, hiring a plumber or electrician is advised to handle these functionalities with expertise.
Apply for Required Permits
Even though removing the wall will not impact your house’s structure, it is recommended to apply for a permit two weeks prior to removal with the city /county permit agency to confirm the same.
Similarly, depending on the utility line contained in the walls, separate inspections and permits may be required.
Turn Off the Power, Water, and Remove Surface Elements
Before beginning work, it is best practice to turn off the power and shut off the house’s main valves. Surface elements such as light switches and faceplates should also be removed to facilitate removing the drywall.
Removing drywall can become a messy affair. However, with a strategy in place, it is possible to do it in a much neater fashion than expected. To remove the drywall, cut it along the edges of the studs and take off the dangling pieces. Unscrewing the drywall screws makes it easier to remove the drywall.
Remove Studs and Nails
Once the drywall is removed, studs, plates, and nails become visible. Finish the removal of your wall by cutting the studs at the center and removing nails protruding from the ceilings and walls.
Removing a non-load-bearing wall may be hazardous, especially if the wall touches sharp metals and wires. It is recommended to be fully equipped with safety gears to avoid severe damage to self and property.
Removal of Load-Bearing Walls:
Removal of load-bearing walls is far more complex. Before tearing down your wall, it is necessary to be braced with temporary supports. These can be support beams or support walls that stop the house from collapsing once the wall is removed. After removal, support to the house can be given using beams or a combination of posts and beams.
Since a load-bearing wall offers support to various structures, it is best advised to hire a structural engineer to help maintain your house’s structural integrity.
To remove a load-bearing wall, the cost would likely be between $1,200 and $3,000 if you have a single-story home and between $3,200 and $10,000 for multi-story homes. For a partition wall, the cost is between $300 and $1,000. Other expenses you should factor in when considering a project like this include installing new drywall, putting up new wallpaper, and repainting the walls.
At Design Everest, our fully licensed and insured team of structural engineers, MEP engineers and architects are ready to help you remove whichever wall you need. We have the experience and expertise needed to finish your project on time and under budget. Contact us today for a consultation and a free quote.