At one time, people were content to live in segmented homes where each room performed a separate, distinct function. The kitchen was separate from the dining room, and the living room was separate from both of those. This tradition stemmed from early Victorian and Elizabethan days where fancy homes were made of parlors and studies and libraries all separated from each other.
These days, however, people have embraced open concept living and now everything is integrated. Sometimes, it seems the only areas that actually have walls are the bathrooms and the bedrooms. One of the biggest integrations is the “kitchen-diner” which allows for easy, sociable interaction between host and guest and easy serving of food straight from the stove to the plate. Formal dining rooms see less and less usage, mostly just holiday dinners, and then spend the rest of the year untouched.
Checking For Load-Bearing Walls
If you live in an older home and would like to implement the open concept design, do some fact checking before you start swinging the hammer. Some walls may seem insignificant, but they can be load bearing, and removing them can compromise the integrity of the entire structure. You might be able to tell the difference yourself by the way they sound.
British newspaper Nottingham Post explained, “Identifying a plasterboard stud wall is easy—it sounds hollow when you knock on it, but note that other walls can sound similar, so don’t take any chances.”
Enlist An Engineer
Only an engineer can tell you for sure if a wall is load bearing, so it’s best to enlist the help of one before embarking on any DIY home demolition. Structural walls can be removed, but you must insert a steel beam in their stead. A structural engineer can tell you what size you’ll need.
The Extra Projects
Also remember that removing a wall doesn’t mean you’re just taking down sheetrock and framing, there may also be ductwork, electrical wiring, and pipes to worry about. How will you rewire your home so you can still have enough electrical outlets? Is it possible to reroute your plumbing? Plus, you’ll need to patch over the area where the wall once stood with new flooring, or relace the surrounding flooring altogether if it’s damaged by wall removal.
So is removing that wall really worth it? It can be, according to the Nottingham Post. They admitted, “There’s no denying an open-plan dream can involve a lot of work and expense” but went on, “balanced against the space, light, and better, standard of living you’ll gain from it, it’s probably a challenge you’ll want to take on.”
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