When a Wall Has Got to Go

Story #18

Like many homeowners, we wanted an open floor plan, so we needed to remove several walls in our 1970s ranch home. The living room had full and partial walls that separated it from the kitchen and entryway, blocking the abundant natural light from the south-facing picture window in the living room. So, first we had to check to see if these walls were “load-bearing.” A load-bearing wall is part of a building’s support architecture, transferring load from above down to another wall, a beam, and/or a foundation. Beams to Basements Contractors can remove walls (and frame new ones), but how we complete the project will be different if it involves structural components. 

    We’ve already shared stories from 2 remodeling projects that impacted the skeleton of our first house — adding egress windows and moving the stairs. Anytime you change the integrity of a building, such as removing load-bearing walls or increasing the size of an existing window, you need to work with a specialized construction professional (In Colorado, these are state-licensed structural engineers and architects.) to draft plans of the exact building methods and materials required to safely redistribute the building’s weight. As contractors, we use these plans for building permits and to accurately bid the labor and materials for customers’ projects.

     

    Lucky for us, none of the walls we wanted to remove was load-bearing. Josh knocked down these walls, carefully working around the heat ducts, light switches, and outlets that would be removed/relocated later by the specialists we hired. As soon as the walls came down, the house felt larger, brighter, and warmer. Now that it’s finished, we definitely spend most of our time in this open, sunny space. 

    This isn’t the first time we’ve removed the walls separating a kitchen and living room to let more natural light flow through a home. Have you seen this renovation project photo gallery, where we also replaced the flooring and patched the drywall? You can’t even tell where the wall we removed used to touch the ceiling.

    HOMEOWNER TIP

    If you also dream of getting rid of a wall in your house, there are a few things you can do before you contact a structural professional to confirm whether or not it’s load-bearing. Check the wall you want to remove for any outlets, switches, and heat/cool vents to get a sense of whether your project is simple or may require multiple specialists. Beware, though, that things in the wall, like pipes, may not be visible. Don’t forget to budget for repairs to the adjacent walls, ceiling, and flooring that will be needed after the unwanted wall is removed. Painting and flooring can be great do-it-yourself projects for homeowners to save money, but you should hire professional engineers/architects, electricians, plumbers, and heating/cooling specialists to ensure those elements are completed safely and work properly. Like all drywall or plaster projects, this is dusty, dirty work, so also be prepared for extra cleanup. Finally, with a new, open layout, you may need to replace furniture and/or lights. You want to account for your total project costs when considering this type of home improvement, but you don’t have to live with that wall you hate.

      OTHER STORIES

      Revealing Hidden Costs of Remodeling

      We accounted for the big-ticket items, like countertops and subcontractors, but it also felt like we were always adding things to our rehab budget. Little changes can add up quickly!

      Reuse As Much As Possible When Remodeling

      To protect the environment & our budget, we reused as many of the original materials in our first house even though we completely remodeled it.

      Homebuyers, Look for These Clues to Potential Costly Repairs

      Homebuyers, you don’t need any construction knowledge to spot these clues to potential, costly repairs.

      What the Heck are Floating Floors?

      Our flooring services are only for snap-together products that can be installed as a floating floor. We explain what that means and why we chose it for our first home.

      What the Heck are Floating Walls?

      Building codes in Colorado require floating basement walls, but you don’t need magic to make that happen.

      Some Things Didn’t Go Smoothly

      Even though we regularly work with other contractors on clients’ projects, we still had issues with some of the new-to-us contractors & vendors we used to remodel our first home.

      The Best-Laid Plans…

      If you expect your plans to change, you may be able to roll with the design changes without freaking out.

      Moving the Stairs Maximized Our Space

      We knew the first time we saw the house that we wanted to move the stairs, but it took longer to come up with the best new spot for them.

      Digging into Egress Windows & Legal Basement Bedrooms

      With “Basements” in our company name and window installation as an expertise, we are asked to add egress windows a lot. Let’s dig into what an egress window is and why it matters.

      Silencing Squeaky Floors

      We worked as a team of detectives to find and eliminate all the squeaky spots on our subfloors before the new engineered hardwood and tiles were installed.

      About Beams to Basements

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