In the pursuit of open-plan living space, removing internal walls has become a popular DIY task. It’s an effective way to increase the sense of space and light, and can change the flow of your home. However, it’s not a job that should be taken lightly. There are a number of considerations to bear in mind before you reach for the sledgehammer.
Follow our tips to make sure your house benefits rather than suffers.
1. What permissions do I need?
While most internal walls aren’t subject to planning applications, you will need to comply with Building Regulation guidelines which cover all structural alterations. These regulations are concerned with fire safety, contamination, electrics and other fundamental aspects. In most cases you will need to make a Buildings Regulation application with your local authority, and a building control inspector will come out to look at the work and sign off the project.
2. How will I use the space?
Answering this question will help to build a picture of your life in this new room. Glossy magazine shots of stunning open plan kitchen/ living rooms look incredibly inviting. However, if you’re preparing a meal in this space will the smell of cooking annoy you or the sound of kitchen appliances interrupt your TV viewing?
Proper planning will help to iron out any issues that could negatively affect the outcome of the work. Talk to an architect to explore the different options available and help visualise the final room.
3. Should I call a structural engineer?
Is the wall load-bearing, which means it supports the central structure of the building? These are often positioned in the centre of the house, perpendicular to floor joists. A structural engineer will be able to identify if it’s load-bearing and what you’ll need to support the structure above. For example, extendable acrow props can temporarily hold the weight.
In the absence of a load-bearing wall, Reinforced Steel Joists (RSJ) must be put in place to distribute the weight horizontally. Columns can be used to provide additional support, normally at each end of a beam.
4. What’s lurking behind?
You can’t go crazy with the sledgehammer if plumbing or electrics are hidden inside. Check on both sides of the wall to see if there’s a radiator or electrical socket, which would indicate the presence of pipes and wires inside. If so, shut off the water and power before you begin to dismantle. If you’re moving electrics around, call in a qualified electrician.
5. Stay safe with the right gear
Make sure you kit yourself out with the right safety equipment to protect yourself during the demolition. You’ll need safety goggles, steel toe cap boots, a dust mask and a sturdy pair of gloves.
We stock a wide range of safety products and building materials at great prices, so pop by our Kingsfold depot to pick up your supplies and talk to our friendly staff about the complete process.