A question I am asked all the time is, “how hard is it to take out a wall?” Well…it depends…I know! Such a crummy answer. We always hate the “it depends” answer to any question, but in the case of blowing out walls: it depends. Keep reading. I promise I’ll give a more clear answer.
Before we even put in an offer on our current house, we knew that to make the house fit our needs AND gain serious points for resale, this wall between the kitchen and dining room needed to go.
The wall is gone and we are so SO happy with the size of the space, amount of light and overall feel of the house, but there are a few things to consider before you start swinging.
1. It ain’t cheap. Before you start hacking into the wall, you need to first figure out if the wall is loadbearing or not—which means the safest bet is to bring in a pro to take a look.
For our kitchen reno, hiring a structural engineer to confirm that the wall was loadbearing was a must (we totally already knew it was since the entire second floor sits directly above it) but also to give recommendation on what size beam/additional foundation support would be needed. In our case, we needed a hefty beam and new foundation pier under the support column that would support the weight of the upstairs. Our cost for picking a structural engineer’s brain was around $300.
Now that we knew what needed to be done, we had specific instructions from the engineer to give to a contractor. We knew from the get-go that this job far exceeded our limits as DIY handy people AND that it would take upwards of a few thousand to work wall removal and structural modifications into our kitchen reno budget. We wanted an open concept for our kitchen & living spaces, so it was well worth the cost.
2. Lots of scary things live in walls. Spiders? No, my friend, those aren’t scary compared to what we are used to living through. I’m talking about wires and pipes. Moving those babies can scare the heck out of your budget if you don’t know what you are getting into. For this reno, we lucked out that the extent of our electrical boiled down to moving a few switches and outlets, but really check out the wall you have plans to move for any bigger ticket issues (i.e. electrical panels, plumbing pipes, ductwork…)
3. Flooring issues. Flooring expenses can add up (see #1 above) and you can bet your first born child that you will have flooring to patch/replace. In our case, we had carpet, tile AND hardwood bumping up to the walls we were removing. We knew before we even thought about removing the walls that we would need to replace all of the flooring in our downstairs kitchen/living areas. Installing and refinishing hardwood floors ate up a huge chunk of our budget—and good gravy, it was worth it—but to think that this could have been something we did not consider on the front end and found out when we were already knee deep in sawdust? Yikes. Ouch. All of the above.
4. Make sure the new space makes sense. Our kitchen pre-reno felt closed off and claustrophobic and the additional space we were bringing into the kitchen by opening up the dining room walls was huge—YAY!—but also kind of far away from the “work triangle” of our kitchen.
Open floor plan achieved, but what to do with all that extra space?
We could have left the space as a dining area—but then it would be right next to the breakfast area. Two tables side-by-side did not make sense…We could have made it a sitting area—that never would have been used…The perfect solution was to create an oversized 4’x8’ island with veggie sink, adding additional counter space AND an area that a ton of people could gather around while keeping them out of cook’s way. Bingo.
Long answer short, yes, it depends. But with planning on the front end, a realistic budget and a vision for how big of a difference removing a wall or two can make to the feel of a home, it’s totally worth it.