While using walls to section off your house into smaller rooms has its advantages, the modern trends in the world of interior design heavily promote open spaces. Fewer walls make any small space feel less crowded, allow in more light, and help in providing better ventilation. Owing to the trend, many people are looking towards wall removal to make their home or office spaces feel brighter and livelier.
Though by ‘wall removal,’ one might think you just need to knock down a few walls, the process is not that simple. Since there may be a lot of wiring and pipelines within the walls, one cannot simply knock them down. To safely carry out this procedure without harming any of the wiring or the plumbing, you may need the help of structural engineers.
Wall Removal Scenarios Requiring A Structural Engineer’s Involvement.
Below is a table that can help you identify which situations require a structural engineer when it comes to wall removal:
|Removing a wall that sustains the weight of the structure or another part of the structure
|A wall,12 feet or taller than 8 feet that is to be removed
|walls made of brick, concrete, or other masonry materials
|Wall with electrical or plumbing
|A wall containing electrical wires, plumbing pipes, or HVAC ducts
|Wall with fireproofing
|A wall that has fireproofing materials
|Wall in a multi-story building
|A wall on the upper floors of a multiple-story structure
|Removing a wall in a historic building or a building that is over 50 years old
|Removing an exterior wall that is load-bearing or supporting a roof or balcony
|Making structural transformations to the building in addition to wall removal
|If you’re unsure whether a wall is load-bearing or if there are any other concerns about wall removal, it’s always best to consult a structural engineer.
Understanding the Importance of Structural Engineers in Wall Removal
Wall removal, the removal of a load-bearing wall that carries the weight of a structure above it, is a risky task. If not done correctly, it could damage electrical wiring and pipelines and even shake the foundations of any building. Incorrect wall removal can become a severe life hazard and must be avoided at all costs.
In that regard, structural engineers are essential when it comes to wall removal. Since they look at building designs from a safety aspect, they are experts in devising suitable plans of action that help maintain the structural stability and integrity of the structure. This means structural engineers will make sure that safety standards are being met and that the foundation of the home is not being compromised in any form when a wall is removed.
Without the help of structural engineers in wall removal, the chances of risk and damage to the house may rise significantly.
Signs that Indicate the Need for a Structural Engineer in Wall Removal
When it comes to wall removal, the first step is identifying what type of wall you are dealing with. If a wall is not a load-bearing wall, then the help of a structural engineer is not necessarily required. However, if it is a load-bearing wall, then it is best to get help.
You may notice a few stark signs that clearly indicate that the wall needs to be removed or repaired in some way or another. Some of the signs include: sagging or dropped ceilings, as well as sagging or dropped floors. The drywall may appear to be cracking, or the windows and doors may be sticking. Hearing loud noises or creaking sounds when stepped on/touched is also a huge indication that the wall is not in its prime condition and should be looked at immediately.
Signs like these indicate that the wall is having some structural problems and a mere DIY removal job may not properly cater to all the faults. And because most of these signs also indicate that there may be damage to the integrity of the property, it is better to get the help of a structural engineer, so that all problems can be solved effectively.
The Role of a Structural Engineer in Wall Removal: Explained
Since structural engineers are professionals and experts in the field, every project that they take on will include a series of steps and procedures. Similarly with wall removal, if a structural engineer is hired, they will carry out some steps to smoothly perform the task.
For wall removals, a structural engineer’s main job will include inspection. They will carry out a thorough inspection of the wall to identify if it is carrying any load. Once that is identified, they can estimate the impact the removal will have on the overall structure and foundations of the place. Inspection will allow them to gauge if it is a good idea to remove the wall or not.
As a part of their job, some structural engineers may also prefer to make drawings of the plan. Clients may also like to see necessary drawings of the plan to get an idea of what needs to be done.
Within the wall removal process, a structural engineer will also carry out the task of a project manager. That means they will also look at the external or secondary factors too. This could include guiding the workers and organizing resources to work efficiently and cost-effectively.
The structural engineer also plays the role of consultant, by coming up with cost-effective and buildable solutions that can be completed in a given time frame. Structural engineers can help clients come up with alternate solutions if things do not go as planned.
DIY Wall Removal vs. Professional Wall Removal: Which One to Choose?
For procedures like wall removal, many people may opt to hire a engineer in Sydney or a professional who deals with such projects. However, some people, due to any circumstance, may want to try their hand at DIY wall removal.
DIY Wall Removal
Removing a wall by yourself is a doable task, but it is a challenging one. The first thing one must do is conduct comprehensive research by reading guides and materials related to wall removal available on the internet.
Firstly, when DIY-ing wall removal, homeowners must make sure to fulfill the local building code requirements and also make sure to pass all local inspections as commercial builders do.
Homeowners need to make sure what the regulations are for their respective localities because, in some places, building code requirements and licenses are only accessible to property owners.
Depending on the location of the wall to be removed, when removing a wall by yourself, you need to look after a lot of permits that usually contractors look after.
Inspectors may need to inspect if the wall removal is likely to affect the building’s integrity and foundation.
In some cases, you may also need to submit a detailed plan to clearly show the details of the plan you may be following.
Then there is also the issue of replacing the walls removed. Especially if it is a load-bearing wall, it may be necessary to replace a demolished wall with something similar in structure. All these things and more need to be looked at when you consider going down the DIY route when removing walls.
Professional Wall Removal
If you decide to hire a professional for wall removal, the possibility that the length of time of the project may increase because a professional will meticulously check every detail, form plans, and allocate resources before executing the plan. But other than the longer procedures, working alongside may speed up the actual demolishing process because professionals have better equipment and are well experienced in working on these things, which means they get the work done faster.
Professionals will follow a lot of steps before they get to the actual act. First, they will conduct a series of inspections (for which they need licenses and certifications); after making the preliminary judgments, they will need to apply/register for appropriate licenses and related certifications to ensure that all the work is carried out per the set rules and regulations. Professionals will form strict plans of action regarding the process, including detailed drawings and procedures, because cutting down on unnecessary costs is also a part of their jobs.
Who to Choose?
The decision of who to choose for wall removal relies on a few main points to be considered. The most important one is identifying your budget and the complexity of the removal. If you think your budget is less and the task is relatively easy, you go down the DIY route. But if you think your budget is less, but the task may be complex, you may need to reevaluate your options and seek alternate paths. But if the task is complex and you can manage the budget accordingly, then it may be best if a professional take over the work. Hiring a professional may be the safest option concerning the health risks involved, at least in the long run.
How To Hire A Structural Engineer For Wall Removal: A Step-By-Step Guide
The standard answer on how to hire a structural engineer for wall removal is to look for a known and trusted structural engineering company and contact them via call, email, or through an in-person visit to their office.
But before that, homeowners can take a few steps:
The first step is to form a rough plan of what you want to be done, especially what walls you want to be removed.
Secondly, make a draft of the plan and the entire process as you think it may follow.
Next, the most critical step is to do your research. Research each detail you are unsure of so that once the work is under process, you do not feel lost or start getting ideas to change the plan.
When in contact with a company or a freelance structural engineer, make sure that you get an estimate of the wall removal procedure. This gives you an idea of how much you may need to arrange in finances before undergoing the process.
Another important step is to make sure the company or engineer you are planning to hire has the required permits, certifications, and licenses.
Lastly, make sure you are open to any changes in plans as suggested by your structural engineer because they want the best for you.
Do I need building regulations to remove a wall?
In cases where you are dealing with load-bearing walls, then building regulations are required because these walls support other structures.
How can I tell if a wall is load-bearing?
It is easy to check. If a wall has a column, beam, or other structures following its path or directly below it, then it is a load-bearing wall.
Do I need a structural engineer to remove a non-load-bearing wall?
If it is a non-bearing wall, removing it is easier if all the proper safety precautions have been taken.
What are the responsibilities of a structural engineer?
They do a lot of tasks such as making plans, and reports on the work, they conduct inspections, providing technical advice, making calculations, estimates, etc.
What is the cost of hiring a structural engineer to remove walls?
On average, the cost may fall within $500 to $ 2000. The cost depends on the duration of the project, the complexity, and other such factors.
What problems do structural engineers solve?
A structural engineer can help look for the root causes of trouble and problems. They look for what might be causing the problem, if there is one, to avoid it in the future.
What cases of wall removal may require a structural engineer?
The wall may be a load-bearing one or a masonry wall. You may need to make structural modifications to the wall, or it may be an old building that needs reconstruction.
Is it okay to do a DIY wall removal?
You must look at a lot of factors and make sure to do the appropriate research before taking on the challenge of DIY wall removal.
Read More: What Does A Structural Engineer Do?
The need for a structural engineer varies according to the services you need. A lot of the time, upon assessment, you may find that the work is easy and can be done without external help. For that, it is necessary to conduct good research and clearly understand what work you need to do. The cost of the procedure including hiring a structural engineer is determined after hiring has been done. Still, it is essential to get early estimates so that you can choose the services that fit your budget.