What to Consider Before Removing a Non-Load Bearing Wall

Non-Load Bearing Walls

There are two types of interior walls, load bearing and non-load bearing. A load bearing wall supports the weight of any above elements, such as the roof, attic, a second floor, joists, and other such objects. A non-load bearing wall only supports itself and only exist to separate rooms. However, if you are thinking of removing your non-load bearing walls, consider the following.

  1. There might be another reason for the wall

Older houses were built with walls being used to segment the home into smaller rooms. The rooms may have been made for sound blocking, energy preservation, or privacy. Before tearing down walls, live in the home for a few months to get a feel for the home. You might find that you enjoy the segmentation of the home more than you would an open floor plan.

  1. Determine it is not a non-load bearing wall

Before removing a wall, be sure that the wall is actually non-load bearing. All exterior walls are load-bearing, no exceptions. However, if the wall is parallel to the joists, it is likely non-load bearing. A wall bearing loads will be built perpendicular to the joists. This is not always the case, however, such as in the case of a closet.

  1. Confirm with a contractor or engineer

If you are still unsure whether your wall is non-load bearing, call in the professionals. A contractor will either charge you an hourly fee or a flat fee to check out the wall. If you are particularly worried, you can hire a structural engineer. However, engineers are quite expensive.

  1. Get a permit

Wall removal is permitted in almost all communities; however, you most likely need a permit to start the work. Many municipalities require this to prevent any work-related injuries or home damages. Typically, this permits costs $85.

  1. Wires and pipes and sensitive items, oh my!

Once you have determined that the wall is not non-load bearing, the main thing you should be concerned with is utilities running through the wall. If your wall has electrical, plumbing, cable, or telephone items running through it, you’ll have additional costs to have a professional come in and cap off the utilities.

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