Good Bones

Making the house you buy into the home you love

What you need to know about giving your place a little more space

When you’re sizing up a prospective home, it’s hard not to imagine what it will look like once you take a paintbrush to it and unpack all your belongings. But most of us don’t stop there. In our minds we’re already taking a sledgehammer to that front room to create more space and light. Removing a wall can certainly achieve your dream space yet it’s not always as simple as it sounds. Can you simply apply brute force with a sledgehammer to get the look you want or should you call a contractor first? Understanding what you’re up against can save you a lot of time, money and remorse.

By simply sizing up a wall from the outside, it’s hard to tell if the task at hand will be simple and painless or require a major structural change. “The first thing you’ll need to determine is if the wall is load-bearing and how much load it supports,” says Patricia Verge, president of OREA. “While it’s not impossible to remove a load bearing wall, you’ll have to understand what your options are to replace the support of that wall,” she adds. “It’s wise to consult an architect or general contractor before making a decision that could cause structural damage to your home if not done properly.”

What you’ll need to consider:

  • Removing a wall is different from home to home and from story to story. Removing a first floor wall in a two story home is more expensive since the wall is taking the additional stress of the second story and will require more work and options to ensure the integrity of the structure.
  • If you aren’t planning to replace the floors, you’ll have to assess the patchwork that will be involved where the wall once stood. It can be difficult to match old hardwood with wood pieces making blending old and new an issue.
  • You may want to keep older molding from one room but could experience difficulty finding a way to carry it on into the new space since new materials on the market may be not be a suitable match.

Removing one simple wall can create a whole new look and feel to any space. It’s something prospective homeowners should consider when sizing up a home they love but need it to meet more of their demands like better flow or spacious rooms. Talk to your realtor and they can help suggest options and tell you if you should speak to a general contractor or architect before taking a sledgehammer to your potential dream home.