When you’re trying to breathe new life into your home, it can feel like your options are limited. After all, there’s only so many ways you can rearrange the furniture. Although a new paint color can help, it’s only surface level. If you really want to transform your layout, you’re up against a wall.
And we mean that literally.
Removing a wall can help you completely redesign your space. It can let in more light and improve the flow of your home. Not to mention, it can make a room feel completely new.
In some cases removing a wall is a simple remodel project. But in others, it can be a major hassle. Start tearing into a wall and you might expose all kinds of challenges and costs. How do you know when removing a wall is a good idea and when it’s best to leave it as is? And just how much does it cost to remove a wall?
This article is here to help! We’ll walk you through the questions you need to ask before removing a wall and explain 5 factors that can affect the price.
Reasons to Remove a Wall
There are many reasons to remove a wall. A few include:
- Opening up a space
- Improving the natural light in a room
- Improving the flow of your home
- Changing the use of a room
- Joining two rooms together
Removing walls is a common project, especially in older homes. Even as recently as the 1980s, houses were built with lots of little nooks and smaller rooms to give everyone their own private space. To achieve this, builders used divider walls, partial walls, and small rooms to segment each area of the home.
Today, people are much more attracted to open floor plans. They want lots of natural light, space for large furniture, and to be able to connect with family members in other rooms. For homeowners living in an older constructed home, taking out walls is the way to accomplish this layout design.
Knocking out a wall can drastically change the look, feel, and function of your space for the better. By creating more open space in your home, you have more opportunities to spend more time with your family. Now you can have everyone together in one room for family game night or simply add space for your growing family to fill.
Questions to Ask Before Removing a Wall
These four questions should help you get a better idea of whether or not it’s wise to remove your wall. The most important factor among all these considerations however, is thinking about how your wall functions in the overall design of your home.
1.) What is this wall supporting?
When choosing walls to remove, you need to consider whether or not they’re load-bearing. All your exterior walls will be load-bearing walls, as they support either your roof or gable (the portion of a wall between the edges of intersecting roof pitches). For interior walls, if it runs perpendicular to your floor joist or runs along a stairwell, then that’s generally a load-bearing wall. You can still remove these walls, it just requires more infrastructure planning to ensure your house is properly supported by the new layout.
Load-bearing walls can make a seemingly simple project much more complex and tack on extra costs. Different roof structures will distribute weight differently throughout your home, which can have a significant impact on how important a specific wall is. It’s tough to spot those details without any architecture or construction training. It’s recommended that you hire a contractor before starting any work to help you assess your situation and offer advice about whether or not removing a specific wall is an option.
2.) What is in this wall?
Before you plan to remove a wall, you need to know what it’s inside of it. Heating and cooling systems, electrical wiring, and plumbing all route through your walls. You don’t want to start on a project unless you know you can move anything inside that wall with relative ease. Otherwise, you might get halfway through the job only to realize you can’t actually take that wall out without requiring other major renovations.
3.) What is the plan for everything affected?
All the equipment that lives inside your wall will have to go somewhere if you remove it. It’s important to plan how you’ll reroute things like wiring, HVAC systems, and even plumbing. A plan helps you determine if removing the wall is a feasible option from both a construction and a budgeting standpoint. The more things you have to shift around, the more costly the project is.
You also have to consider how your contractor will tie new supporting materials into the existing framing of your house. It’s important that the new elements can properly support your home and work together with the existing construction.
Your construction team will be somewhat limited on how they move framing members — things like studs, joists, and joints that support the weight of your house — based on what’s already there. Older homes tend to have a different framing structure than modern homes, which usually requires significantly more infrastructure to match and can make your project more expensive.
4.) What will you do with the floor?
One thing few people realize is that when they remove a wall, they also have to contend with the floor underneath it. If the wall was part of the original construction, then the floors would have been put in after it. This means there won’t be a clean transition from one room to another. For example, if one room has hardwood floors and the other has carpet, when you take out the wall you’re probably going to have a large cut between those two flooring types where the wall was.
You need to consider how you’ll patch the spot where the wall was to make your floors look as seamless as possible. Your contractor can help you determine what options you have and give you advice about the best plan.
How Much Does it Cost to Remove a Wall?
There are lots of factors that can affect the price of your wall removal project. In general, removing a non load-bearing wall and finishing the new wall will cost about $2,000-6,000 depending on the height of the ceilings, how they align, and the required floor repairs. Exterior wall removal typically costs about $5,000-10,000. This range is a bit bigger because there are more problems you can run into with this project, such as rebuilding some interior framing.
The height and age of your house also make a difference in the price. The more stories you have above the wall you’re removing, the higher your costs will be because that wall is supporting a heavier load. Older houses are generally more expensive to work with because of that difference in building style which often requires more infrastructure work.
Even a finished basement can factor into pricing. For instance, removing a first-story wall on a two or three-story home requires your contractor to add more support in the basement to ensure that wall is connected to the foundation of your home. With a finished basement, they would have to open walls and do more construction work to accomplish this.
Factors That Affect Price
We’ve mentioned many of these factors throughout this post, but let’s take a quick recap of the different factors that can affect the cost of a wall removal.
- Type of wall (interior or exterior)
- Load-bearing vs. non load-bearing
- Age of the house
- Rerouting things housed in your wall
- Floor repairs
Of these larger categories, there are two specific issues that can significantly raise the price of removing a wall: moving a plumbing stack from within your wall and matching exterior finishes. A plumbing stack is the big pipe that runs through your wall to connect second or third-story bathrooms to your plumbing systems. The issue with rerouting this pipe is that it needs a certain level of drop for your drains and toilet to drain correctly. So, even though you might only want to move it three feet, it might require 12 feet to have enough space to function properly. This can cause a domino effect of having to adjust other areas of your house and can turn into a major remodel pretty quickly.
As for your exterior finishes, these tend to cost more to find and match which typically makes an exterior wall removal more expensive than an interior wall removal. Things like brick molding, siding, and other materials require significantly more work to make a clean cut and seamless transition from the old to the new. So not only does it increase your materials cost, it can also add up in your labor cost.
Partner with a Contractor
In general, removing a wall is always a great idea. It can do so much for the design and feel of your home and offer you more comfort than a house closed off with lots of walls. Whether or not it’s a good project for you depends on if you have the budget to do what you want and if you can realistically remove the walls you’re thinking about.
The best way to approach a wall removal project is to talk to a contractor. At VADA Contracting, we have plenty of experience removing walls in homes of all sizes and ages. We can help you determine if removing a wall is a good idea or if there’s a better solution to accomplish your remodeling goals. So book a consultation with us today to see how we can help!