More to consider than whether it’s a load-bearing wall
You’ve seen ordinary people do it on TV. They simply pick up a sledgehammer and start going at the wall with gusto, gaining momentum as they do it. It even looks like fun, sort of like a toddler knocking down a wall of blocks.
As you likely know, it’s not quite as simple as that. Most of us have heard that the main consideration is whether the wall is a load-bearing wall, basically a wall that supports the floor above or the ceiling. Knock down the wrong wall and the entire house can gradually come crashing down like a house of cards.
Several ways to determine whether it's a load-bearing wall
So, yes, you must first find out whether the wall that you want to remove is a load-bearing wall. There are several ways that you can try to determine on your own whether a certain wall is load-bearing, including consulting the original plans for your house. We suggest you call a structural engineer or a building contractor who can tell you with certainty whether a wall is load-bearing or not. The added benefit of consulting an expert is that they can make other recommendations if the wall turns out to be a load-bearing wall. They can either recommend adding another support system or achieving your remodeling goals a different way.
After determining whether the wall is load-bearing, there are other considerations to keep in mind.
Lifestyle. Is this a renovation that will work for your lifestyle in the long run or do you favor an open home concept plan because this works for you now? It may be helpful now for you to be able to view your young children playing in the family room while you prepare meals in the adjoining kitchen, but will you and your kids be craving more privacy once your kids turn into teen-agers? Do you get easily distracted while cooking or do you crave the company of others while you’re in the kitchen?
Heating and cooling. Keeping a larger room warm in the winter and cool in the summer will be harder. Make sure to factor in whether your home has central air and heating, or whether you will need to factor in alternate heating and cooling resources.
Asbestos. There is a possibility that walls in homes built before 1980 may contain asbestos. If so, you will need to call in a professional asbestos cleaner.
Electricity. If the wall contains any electrical outlets, electrical wiring will likely need to be rerouted, which is work that is best done by an electrician.
Flooring. This may be a minor consideration, especially if you are also planning to add in new flooring. Otherwise, you will need to think about how you’re going to fill in the gap in flooring where the wall used to be for a seamless look on your floor.
Photo credit: Last.fm