Knocking down interior walls is high on the house improvement agenda these days as light and open plan living space is very popular with homeowners and house buyers.Particularly popular with families or those who like room to entertain is removing the wall between the kitchen and dining room to create a spacious kitchen/diner. There are two different types of wall – load-bearing, which are crucial to supporting the structure of the property and walls that have just been installed to divide the space up.
There are constraints around knocking down a load-bearing wall, whereas it is more straightforward to remove a wall simply used as a room divider. There are other aspects that may be involved when removing a wall. The project also may lead to having to relocate radiators, light switches and electrical plug sockets. Gas pipes and electrical wiring may need to be replaced or redirected.
There may be a difference in floor height between the two rooms that are being combined. It only may be a few millimetres but will need to be rectified so that the open plan room has a perfectly level floor. If knocking through a wall is part of a bigger home improvement project it could be advisable to employ the service of an architect to help plan the design.
Knocking through rooms normally does not require planning permission from the local council unless the property is a listed building in which case there are strict rules on what, and indeed whether any, internal alterations can be made. However, it is probable that knocking down an internal wall will require a Building Regulation application to be made to the council.
If in doubt about whether any permissions need to be sought for any home improvement work then either consult a building control officer at the council, building contractor or architect.
It is not always easy to identify whether a wall is load-bearing or not so it is advisable to engage a professional building contractor to carry out the work as they will have the experience and knowledge to identify load-bearing walls. When a load-bearing wall is removed, a steel beam or lintel needs to be installed to support the structure of the property where the wall is being removed.
The services of a structural engineer also may be required if the wall that is being removed is load-bearing. This is not compulsory, but such an expert will be able to carry out the load-bearing calculations and work out the strength of the beam required to support the home’s structure where the wall is being removed. They also can draw up the structural plans and write up the structural calculations that will be required by the Building Control department at the council.
It might sound complicated but with the right professional advice and help from a builder the results can be stunning and create a superb space that adds value to the property.