Removing a load-bearing wall isn't as easy as grabbing a sledgehammer
Many homeowners love the idea of open-concept living, but unless your home is fairly new, you more than likely have boxy rooms divided by walls. Removing one of those interior walls might not seem like a big deal, but it could damage the structural integrity of your home—and even cause it to crumble. That’s why it’s super important to hire a local structural engineer to remove a load-bearing wall.
Before Hiring a Wall-Removal Contractor
Renovating the interior of your home is a major decision. As such, you don’t want to hire a pro without a plan. These are the steps you should take before hiring a structural engineer to do the job:
1. Have a Plan
Know which walls you want to remove beforehand. This is the time to brainstorm and collaborate with household members to ensure everyone is on the same page.
2. Draft a Layout
3. Research Pros Near You
Once you have a layout, reach out to your local pros. This is where researching, word-of-mouth, and looking up reviews on companies near you can help you avoid unreputable or inexperienced contractors.
4. Get Estimates
After choosing a few companies, get multiple estimates. Don’t settle for one estimate, as you could end up paying more for the same services. Instead, ask around, compare costs, and don’t be afraid to find the best and most reputable professional available.
5. Acquire a Permit
Having a kitchen that opens up directly into the living room is great for entertaining, but the city is going to want to make sure you follow building codes during the remodel. More often than not, you’ll need a permit from your local municipality before you remove a load-bearing wall.
If hiring a contractor, they should be the one to acquire the permit, as it holds them liable for any construction problems that may arise.
Also, don’t be surprised if the municipality sends an inspector to check out the work during the process and once it’s completed.
6. Be Open to Changes in Your Plan
If you’ve watched any home improvement show, then you know how things don’t always go according to plan. Some surprises that might arise are wires or pipes in the wall that need to be reconfigured.
That’s why it’s important to be open to any changes that may arise before hiring your pro, so as not to be surprised or disappointed if you can’t have the floorplan of your dreams.
Plan Your Load-Bearing Wall Removal Project for Accurate Quotes
The specifics of your project can feel a bit like college algebra, but having all of that information ready for the pros ensures you get an accurate quote.
For one, you can’t simply remove a load-bearing wall without causing serious structural damage to the house. The wall needs to be replaced with another type of support system—which can be less obtrusive—to hold the weight.
Here are some variables to keep in mind for hiring a structural engineer:
Size of the wall
Number of walls to be removed
Rerouting wires or pipes
Whether or not beams or other supports are needed
Number of temporary support walls required, if any
Note: You should get at least three quotes from different structural engineers when looking for an accurate quote. Talk with each engineer thoroughly to determine what exactly goes into their pricing model.
Check Your Pro’s Qualifications and References
As we mentioned, you should always research a contractor before hiring them for the job. Be upfront about asking for the following:
And, if applicable, images of prior work
Questions to Ask Your Pro
Though it might feel like an interview, having a list of questions to ask your pro is a great way to determine the project scope. Consider these questions as you create your own list:
How long will this project take?
Do I need to add any beams?
Will the project affect the floors of my home?
How many crew members will be on the site?
What safety precautions do you have in place?
How will the project change if any unforeseen structural, electrical, or plumbing problems arise?
Do I need a permit to remove the wall?
Hiring Your Pro
After much research and hard work, you’ve chosen a pro. Now it’s time to hire them and get the ball rolling.
Get a Contract and Arrange Payments With Your Pro
Before your contractor can get started, you’ll want to solidify the project scope, make sure that your pro is on the same page as you, establish a contract, and arrange payment plans.
Ask them to explain your project back to you to check that they understand everything that you are asking of them. Better yet, ask for an itemized project scope in writing.
Keep Records of Your Load-Bearing Wall Removal Project
With all of that out of the way, it might seem like you can sit back and watch the renovation happen—but not so fast! You’ll want to keep an eye on the project so that it runs smoothly. Keep good records of the hours worked, the progress made, whether your pro is on schedule, and any issues that arise.
After Your Pro Has Finished
Now that you have the open-concept space of your dreams, it’s time to wrap up the final payment. You might also want to leave a review for your pro and offer to be a reference for future customers if you’re happy with the work.