TV and video makes it looks so easy, but before you plan on removing a wall you need to know what’s in it, what’s behind it and what it is holding up. There are many valid reasons for taking down a wall when remodeling. Especially in a Sun Prairie WI home dating back to the 1950s and 1960s. You can open up space for better traffic patterns or expand the whole house.
Removing a wall or two totally reinvents a living space. The “open concept” is in great demand. In older homes there’s no way to deliver it without taking down walls.
Before you commit to this big step, ask yourself:
- What will it accomplish? How will taking down a wall impact your lifestyle? Do you need more space or a better traffic pattern? Or is it to improve the property for resale. Does knocking out a wall solve your problems? Is the return worth the cost?
Removing A Wall Takes Planning
Before gabbing hammer and saw, take time to plan your actions. Consider:
- What will you lose? Your dream might be wide open space but there’s a trade-off. Large open spaces are far less private and often noisy. Will you miss the room with a door to shut out unwanted noise? Large spaces are harder to heat and cool than small rooms.
- Can I do it myself? It looks easy, almost fun on TV, but are you up to the challenge? A professional contractor has the tools, skills and experience to do it right. In the long run, hiring a pro saves time, money and stress.
- Can you cope with the disruption? Understand that taking out a wall is loud and dirty. There will be a real mess in your home for quite a while. Sure, hanging plastic and covering furnishings will protect you and your possessions from debris, but no amount of plastic keeps drywall plaster dust out. Bringing in a HEPA filter system is also a wise investment.
- Do you have a contingency plan? If you take out the wall between your kitchen and dining room you’d better have a plan for cooking elsewhere. The same is true for anywhere in the house you plan to knock out a wall. The process takes time and disrupts daily life.
These are all considerations that have little to do with the work itself. A handful of questions have to be answered that impact the demo, too.
Not All Walls Are Created Equal
Some walls are more important to the integrity of your home than others. There are walls that can be removed without a second thought while others are critical to keeping the house standing. Before you decide a wall must go, be sure of the following:
- Is it a load-bearing wall? There are walls that just divide the space while others hold the house together. Load-bearing walls run perpendicular to floor joists and are usually near the center of the house. And, a load=bearing wall on the first floor extends to the second floor, too. All exterior walls are load-bearing. Some bearing walls are well disguised so don’t be too quick to make a determination. A load-bearing wall can be removed but it makes the process three or four times more difficult. Support beams and columns can replace the wall for overhead support. However, that takes special materials and professional engineering.
- What does the wall have inside? If the wall has electrical outlets, heat vents or cold air returns there’s plenty inside it. There’s wiring and duct work for sure. Look at the opposite side of the wall. What’s on it? There could be more clues to what’s inside. And, just because you cannot see them there may be other obstructions – plumbing pipes or exhaust vents feeding an upstairs. If there’s a hint of water pipes or electrical wiring inside the wall, bring in a professional.
- Where do rooms meet? When you take out a wall there’s an unfinished gap – about 6 inches of space accounting for studs and trim. What is your transition plan? Can you match flooring or does it all have to be replaced? How about at the ceiling? Does the new space all have matching ceiling treatment? Can the gap above be repaired easily?
Expect The Unexpected
Nobody likes unexpected deviations from their plans. But things happen, so expect a few unplanned activities. You might find things like old gas lines inside a wall or trash left by the builder. And as the wall comes down there will be debris. Not only is it hard to clean up, it is potentially dangerous.
If your home was built before 1978 be sure to have it tested for asbestos before you do any demolition. Modern day construction materials don’t use any asbestos – and lead paint was banned in 1978, too. However, in older homes it may still be present in siding, insulation and vinyl flooring.
Always wear a respirator or mask when you’re around a wall demo project. The ultra-fine dust is a serious threat to safe breathing.
And one more word of warning: If you plan to do any demo in or around your house make sure your tetanus vaccination is up to date. With all the debris, loose nails and sharp objects around it is better to be safe than sorry.
Removing A Wall Is Best Left To Professionals
To avoid these safety risks and to complete a workable plan it is best to leave demolition jobs to skilled professionals.
Sims Exteriors & Remodeling is a knowledgeable, experienced organization skilled at upgrading, repairing and expanding homes of any age. Contact Sims Exteriors and Remodeling at 608-825-4500 – call or email us – for a consultation and the best options for removing a wall in your Sun Prairie WI home.