Remove a Wall

So you want to take out a wall

Many of the designs for new homes over the past several years have featured open design for living rooms, kitchens, and dining rooms. There are a number of advantages and disadvantages to having an open floor plan. In this article we will help you determine if the open concept is the best solution for your remodeling project.

There are four main benefits to a closed floor plan that you may miss once that wall is gone. Privacy, sound, wall space, and light.

By removing a wall you will be removing some privacy. The kitchen that you used to work alone in may become more of a walkway. The dining room that your child may have sat down to do homework in may become an area distracted by the living room television and the clatter from the kitchen. Even if you entertain it is nice to areas to have more private conversations.

That same wall is also controlling the sound between rooms. When you open it up what ever sounds were trapped in the individual rooms will be free to travel throughout the space. Do you enjoy watching television or reading a book while the vent fan over the stove is running? Would it bother you if someone turned the garbage disposal on just as you took a call from a client? Would you like to read a book while your boy shot Xbox aliens?

Another advantage to keeping a wall is to have wall space. With an open design you definitely limit some decorating possibilities. Framed art, wall decorations, and even television placement will all be affected by removing a wall. You may also be limited on furniture layout if there is one less wall be put a couch or end table against.

The last advantage of a closed floor plan is light. When areas are clearly divided the light for each space can be specified for that area. When the wall is gone the light from the kitchen will shine into the living room. Some of this light can create glare on your television or distract from the coziness of the space. To make a room feel larger or brighter improved lighting can provide a more focused approach than sharing light between rooms.

The main advantages to removing a wall are sight lines, shared light, and openness. Each of these advantages are explained below.

Many couples with small children like the open concept because it provides sight lines between rooms. It gives them the opportunity to watch their children and still accomplish something. It allows them the opportunity to communicate with them while they are cooking diner or cleaning counters. Seeing from room to room tends to cut down on the number of disasters. It also allows for more views to the exterior of your house so you can watch birds or see what the neighbor is up to.

With no wall you do benefit from shared light between rooms. Some people like the indirect light you may get from a kitchen light while watching television in a dark living room. You will get indirect lighting from what ever windows you have in each area also. Having no wall may cut down on the number of lights you need in each room.

The last benefit from removing a wall is openness. It can create a larger feeling combining two or three rooms into one. It allows for more free movement between areas. It can allow for more guests in a smaller space for those who entertain larger groups. This benefit is a direct opposite of privacy.

There are a lot of costs associated with removing a wall. First, it must be determined if the wall is supporting anything weight from above. This includes walls, floors, and roofs. It is best to have a professional help you determine what the wall is carrying. If it is a load bearing wall a header must be calculated to transfer the weight from above to the ends of the wall. Removing a non-load bearing wall does not have the costs associated with removing a load bearing wall.

There will be some cost with the actual demo of the wall. There will be a charge for removing what ever construction debris there is. There will be a charge for some type of dust prevention so you don’t track the debris around your entire house. There may be a charge to build a temporary wall to replace a load bearing header. There may also be a charge to remove and replace insulation in the ceiling above.

When removing the wall there will most likely be some drywall repair. This would include patching areas where the wall was removed and blending the drywall into the surrounding areas. This may be needed for both the walls and ceiling depending on how much of the wall was removed. After the drywall patch it may be necessary to paint the ceiling and walls in each room also.
There will be some type of flooring patch required as well. The flooring from one of the rooms will need to be matched or the entire floor replaced. The extent of repair will depend on which direction the flooring is running and what type of floor it is.

Most likely there will be some type of mechanical fix when removing a wall. Electrical may need to be rerouted, heat or cold air runs may need to be moved, or plumbing lines may need to be changed. Some of these issues will be visible before demo begins but there may be surprises. Be prepared for extra costs that could be hiding behind the walls.
The final cost associated with this type of project is trim work. The base moulding will need to be patched in or replaced completely. There may be some kind of moulding applied to the opening. All of this would need to be stained or painted to match the existing.

As with any remodeling project cost and the perceived gain need to be weighed against each other. As a rule of thumb to get the most out of your project it is best to spend money what you see. There are plenty of good reasons to tear out a wall. Before you do, make sure you know the costs associated with the project and the potential downsides to removing the wall also.

Good luck with your next renovation.

Jeff Hoepner
Brooks Home Renovations