Have you ever dreamed of removing a specific wall in your home? I know we have. Although, at times, a separation of rooms makes sense (like creating a home office … thanks COVID), too many walls in the main living space can feel disjointed. If you couldn’t tell from the majority of our projects, we happen to be advocates of the open layout concept and have plenty of experience with interior wall removal.
Interested in how to remove a wall in your house?
Frequently, we receive questions that start out with, “so there’s this wall…”, followed by: “How does removing a non-load-bearing wall compare to a load-bearing wall?”, “How much does it cost to remove a wall?”, “Do I need a permit to remove an interior wall?”, etc.
In this post, we share the basics of removing an interior wall and what help to seek out to ensure a wall removal project is completed correctly and safely.
DISCLAIMER: Before diving in, we need to set a disclaimer. This is not a step-by-step to help you DIY. Removing a wall can be dangerous and likely requires the expertise of licensed professionals on your specific project.
We share this only to help you be more informed of the process, based on our experience, of which we are not licensed. We work with a licensed General Contractor where required in the State of North Carolina, as well as licensed structural engineers. Use this information at your own risk.
Things to Do Before Removing an Interior Wall
- Set a Realistic Budget
- Locate and hire a quality General Contractor (if required)
- Hire a Structural Engineer to visit your job site and provide required specifications for safe removal along with a stamped letter
- Gather Permitting Docs
Setting a realistic budget is paramount to a project of this scale. You must have enough funds allocated to finish the job from start to finish. Account for licensed trades, trim work, flooring, drywall repair, paint, and more. (We dig a little deeper on this subject at the end of this post.)
Hire Licensed Contractors and Gather documentation
Next, be sure to hire a licensed general contractor and/or a reputable structural engineer. The engineer will specify if the wall is load bearing, if piers are needed, how big to make them, what size beam(s) to install and how to install them. It is important they provide you with a stamped letter with these specifications to submit with your permits.
Important Steps to Removing an Interior Wall
- Order Material
- Pull appropriate permits w/engineer letter (ask your city/town what is required)
- Demo, trim, and drywall
- Build temporary supporting walls on each side of the wall you are removing
- Demo the wall you are removing
- Install structural supports per engineer specs, bringing in licensed and non-licensed trades where applicable. (This may include framers, electricians, carpenters, plumbers, and sometimes HVAC contractors).
- Pass all rough-in inspections
- Pass all final inspections!
Notes on Removing a Wall in Your House Correctly
Our suggestion before initiation of any project, is to have 90% of materials on site. This helps reduce delays. After pulling the permits required by your city or town, demolition begins to bring the space down to studs, then temporary support structures go in prior to wall removal.
If piers are required they need to be dug out, inspected, then poured to the correct height before proceeding. After removing the wall, it is time to bring in licensed and unlicensed tradespeople where applicable: framers, electricians, plumbers, and HVAC. (Note: HVAC and electrical subcontractors are generally only needed if moving wires or HVAC ducts or returns, which is very common in older homes).
Depending on city requirements, you may be free to move forward in putting it all back together after passing all rough-in inspections. This will involve drywall and trim work, paint, flooring, and any licensed trades required.
*Pro Tip: You’ll get a higher quality end product if you repair drywall patches using larger pieces or full sheets after removing an interior wall. Generally, the smaller the drywall patch the worse the final product will look.
What is the Cost to Remove a Wall?
Now, I’m guessing you are wondering how much all this costs. The variables are endless to this question based on economy, subcontractors used, supply costs, etc. All we can do here is give you a range for residential projects in our local area in North Carolina at the time of writing this post.
Generally speaking, the larger the project, the better the job costing per square foot. For instance, a few small drywall patches may cost you $50 per patch, whereas replacing drywall on an entire floor of the home will run about $30-$40 per 4 x 8 sheet for labor and materials.
Example of Wall REmoval Costs
- General Contractor: Project Dependent
A GC usually costs roughly 20% of the total project cost.
- Structural Engineer: $500-$1000
A quick call to a few different firms will solidify this number for an engineer in your area.
- Permit Costs: $500-$1000
Again, different towns require different permits, call the city to get this information.
- Flooring: $1,000-$5,000
This cost depends on the existing flooring and what you choose to replace it with. However, it should be fairly easy to figure out by calculating the square footage and obtaining several bids for labor. If patching in hardwoods to existing hardwoods, account for refinishing the entire floor.
- Electrical: $300-$5,000
If only moving a few switches and plugs, your bill may be as low as $500. If the wall removal is in combination with a whole-house renovation that includes a full rewire, it could be upwards of $8,000.
- HVAC: $0-$3,000
If you remember, at The Modern Split flip, there was an HVAC return within a wall we wanted to remove. The only place to relocate it was the entry. The decision was made to build a drop zone with cubbies and, in the end, it didn’t look too bad!
- Drywall & Trim Repair: $5-$10/sq ft. (for patch work)
This is highly dependent on the subcontractors you are using and the quality of the job you are going for.
- Paint: $5/sq foot
Also highly dependent on subcontractors and the quality of the job you are going for.
Wall Removal Final Thoughts
Each project will vary by cost and scope, as will each city’s requirements. As you consider taking on a project of this scale, our hope is that you will approach it more educated than before.
We’d love to see your before and after of interior wall removals and other projects. If you hang out on Instagram, be sure to use the hashtag #myinspiringinvestment, so we can cheer you on!