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Removing a load bearing wall can be a messy, dangerous and complicated process, but also a highly rewarding one. There are a number of reasons to change the internal structure of a property; you may want to increase the size of a room, create a kitchen-dining area or simply open up your property. In any case, there will be a lot to consider before demolition can begin.

Something to get out of the way immediately is this: the fact that removing a load bearing wall does not always require planning permission does not make it a DIY job. There are several websites which claim you can do the calculations and work yourself, but this is one of the most blatant false economies out there. Removing a load bearing wall without taking the proper precautions can completely compromise the structure of a property.

Of course, another reason not to do the work yourself is that it will definitely require Building Regulations Approval. You will need to provide structural calculations and detailed plans to obtain this. A local structural engineer will be able to provide what you need, which in turn will make it simple for a local builder to give you an accurate quote for the work.

Something to keep in mind going forward is that removing the wall and installing the new supports will not be your only costs. You will also need to factor in plastering, re-decorating, relocating your utilities and the after-builders cleaning. Make sure that any quotes you receive for the work include all the necessary costs!

Planning to remove a load bearing wall

To remove a load bearing wall, the first thing that you will need to do is contact a local structural engineer. Schedule a site visit and let them know what you want from the wall removal. They will be able to calculate what kind of supports will be needed to replace the wall, as well as let you know about any potential problems. For example, if you wish to remove a former party wall, it may not be strong enough to support new loadings, which means you will need to get creative!

Unless your home either lies in a conservation area or is a listed building, the project should not usually require planning permission; however, you will require Building Regulations Approval. For this, you will need to provide structural calculations along with a solid plan for the work. A Building Control Officer will also inspect the work to make sure that it is up to scratch.

Remember, the job will not simply be a matter of demolishing the wall and steel beam installation


. The load above the wall will need to be supported while the work takes place. Your structural engineer’s calculations should factor this in.

While it might sound redundant, it is also worth making absolutely sure that the wall in question is load-bearing. It is not uncommon for older houses to have non-load-bearing masonry walls, while stud walls can be also be load bearing. 

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Once you have plans from a structural engineer, the next step will be to show them to an experienced local builder. It is not worth doing so beforehand, as without the plans a builder will not be able to give you an accurate quote for the work. 

When you get your quote, take the time to ask what it contains. This is because there are a number of jobs required for removing a load bearing wall. If the wall itself contains electrical or plumbing utilities, they will need to be relocated by a professional. The same applies for any radiators. Most importantly, knocking down the wall will create a huge amount of dust and debris, so you will need to ensure that your budget has enough for an after-builders cleaning service. You may also want to consider arranging temporary accommodation while the work takes place, or even a holiday!

Before you get started on the job, you will also need to consider aesthetic elements. Once the wall has been removed and the new supports installed, the area will need to be plastered and redecorated. Another potential cost will be levelling the floors either side of the removed wall. It is unlikely that they will be completely level, since they were never designed to meet in the first place.