26 Feb Removing A Load Bearing Wall – How To Do It Right
A simple guide on how to make structural openings in existing walls.
Removing internal walls will dramatically change your home’s feel, flow, and appearance. Open-plan living areas are incredibly on trend and popular right now as many homeowners enjoy the increased natural light and feeling of space. Removing internal walls can help you want more usable space within your home without needing a costly and disruptive extension project.
Knowing how to remove internal walls can also allow you to create a bespoke home design perfect for your family. By removing particular barriers, you can increase room sizes, open up living areas and create new places in your homes, such as an office or playroom, without changing your home’s footprint.
While knocking down a wall doesn’t sound too complicated, this should not be attempted by a well-meaning DIY-er. Instead, seek a professional builder’s advice and expertise if you consider removing any internal barriers.
Removing internal walls
Pretty simple concept, right; knock down an internal wall to open up your living area. If the wall in question is not a load-bearing wall or hiding any plumbing pipes, then the process should be as simple as the concept. Brick, stud, or dry walls can be removed easily, but if you are unsure whether the wall is load-bearing, you should seek the advice of an experienced builder.
The removal process of any internal wall will also need to include the following:
• Repositioning and re-routing any electrical wires around the newly opened space
• A chase will need to be built for any HVAC ducts hidden in the wall
• The floor will need to be patched to cover the space left by the wall
• The ceiling will also need to be plastered, patched and painted
Knocking down a load-bearing wall is a much more complicated task but not impossible. You will need the services of an architect or structural engineer and an experienced builder. They will need to determine what support will be required to take the place of the wall once it has been knocked down. They will also decide how best to shore up and support the ceiling above while the work is taking place to protect your home and the guys doing the work.
What is a load-bearing wall?
A load-bearing wall supports something above it, such as the roof, ceiling or another partition on the floor above. Load-bearing walls are essential for the structural integrity of any building, and removal of them must be done by a professional. Removing a load-bearing wall means you are taking away a part of the building’s support, and so that support must be replaced by a post and beam, for example, to ensure that the structure of the building is not compromised. The design of the building must also be supported during the removal process, or you may risk the building collapsing.
In contrast, a non-load-bearing wall doesn’t support anything above it, and its removal shouldn’t cause any structural damage or changes in the building. Removal is relatively easy, but you should still consult a professional.
How do I know if a wall is a load-bearing?
One of the simplest and easiest tests you can do is to give the wall a knock or a tap; if it sounds hollow, then it is likely to be a simple stud wall, and removal should be simple. On the other hand, if you hear a dull thud, then it’s possible you’ve hit a solid brick wall, and it’s a good bet that this wall is load-bearing. Another check you can do yourself is to check if there is anything directly above, such as another wall on the next floor. If you are unsure, contact a builder who will come and check the wall for you.
My wall is load-bearing; what now?
You will need to replace the support that the wall you are knocking down is giving, and this is usually done using a reinforced steel beam or joist (RSJ). This beam is installed in the ceiling to support the floor or roof above.
You will require a structural engineer to come in and calculate the correct load and measurements of the steel beam needed. These are then passed to your building project manager, who will liaise with the steel manufacturers to make your beam or joist and deliver it to your home.
Once your steelwork is in place, your local building inspector will need to inspect the work to ensure that it fits in with The Building and Control Regulations. If they are happy, the steel is boarded with fire protection, plastered and painted. On completion of this, the building inspector will give you a building approval certificate.
You must keep all your paperwork, including this certificate and the engineer’s measurements. If you come to see your home in the future, you may need to produce this information upon survey. If you don’t have it, you will have to get an engineer to check what has been installed and make their calculations. This can be elusive and costly, and it will be you who must pay for it.
Please take a look at our video of work we have completed removing an internal load-bearing wall to get a better idea of the job.
How long does the process of removing walls and remodelling the space take?
Removing internal walls can take between 5 and 10 days once the work starts. Removal of load-bearing barriers usually takes the longest time due to the need for additional work, installing the steel joist, making goods, plastering, skirting and painting, etc.
Do I need planning permission?
Making internal changes to your home does not usually require planning permission. However, engineer calculations and building notices must be submitted to your local Building Control Service. If you live in a listed property, you will need listed building consent for any significant work, internal or external.
Removing an internal wall; is not for the faint of heart.
If you are looking for a dramatic change in your home design or want to give yourself more room and an open-plan look, knocking down an internal wall can give you that. But this is not a task you should take on alone. While undertaking the project yourself may save you money, you may want to consult a professional building company for advice, especially if the wall is load-bearing. With years of experience removing barriers and remodelling interior spaces, why not call our experts on 02030923791? We can help create just the area you’re looking for.