How to Knock Out a Wall
LESLIE: Well, now we’re going to talk to Mary in Nevada who’s looking to do some remodeling; particularly knocking down a wall.
Mary, what’s going on?
MARY: Well, I would like to – we just purchased a home and I want to renovate and I want to knock out part of the wall to make it open – more open and lighter and brighter.
TOM: That sounds nice.
MARY: What do I have to worry about?
LESLIE: Is it a load-bearing wall?
MARY: A load-bearing wall. OK.
TOM: Yeah, you need to understand how much weight is on that wall before you set your chainsaw into it, Mary. (Tom and Leslie chuckle) Now this particular wall, is it going – is it parallel or perpendicular to the front and rear wall of the house? Because that’s the first place to start.
MARY: It’s parallel.
TOM: OK, then it may in fact be – and this is without seeing your house – load-bearing. Now that does not mean that you can’t take it out; it just means you have to be very careful about the way you do that and the way the wall is reinforced.
There’s two ways to reinforce a wall: one would be with a header, which is the kind that you have over a door or over any kind of archway to a room where there’s a large beam supported by …
LESLIE: Which is usually like a 2×6.
TOM: Or a 2×10 or even a 2×12, depending on how much weight is on it; supporting by small or cripple studs on the side. Or you could do something that would be more like a flush girder where you actually have a flush ceiling, you have no archway or opening. But that’s much more complicated. You have to actually sort of surgically cut into the floor structure above or the ceiling joist above and put a beam that’s flush in the ceiling.
Both of those are not your basic do-it-yourself project, however. It can be done by a carpenter that knows what he’s doing. You typically have to build a false wall on either side of the wall that you’re going to take apart to temporarily support the bearing wall that you’re disassembling. You build a stud wall right near it, like a foot or so away, on both sides. Then you can take apart the bearing wall, put it back together with the proper reinforcement and then remove the temporary walls. So it could be done in a couple of days or maybe even less but it has to be done in the right order and it really should be done by somebody that has some experience.
MARY: Oh, OK. So that is something that I should not tackle. OK. Alright, well that was something that I wanted to ask you, too. Because I have no experience in this, so I thought, “Well, if I read up on it, I might be able to tackle something like this.”
TOM: Well, good for you for having the courage to try something like that. But it’s really beyond the scope of a sort of start-up do-it-yourselfer. I would definitely have a pro do that. But you know what, Mary? You could just hire the contractor to do that and you could do all the rest of the work in the kitchen.
TOM: Do the trim, do the paint. You know? Do all of that but have them open the wall up for you.
MARY: Alright. Thank you.
TOM: OK, Mary. You’re welcome. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.