Removing a load-bearing wall is a common project for those looking to create an open-plan living space or reconfigure a property’s layout.
However, the clue is in the name – these aren’t walls that can be simply removed without attention to the property’s structural integrity.
You should never knock walls through without professional help, as it’s sometimes unclear which walls contribute to the home’s integrity.
This is a guide to the cost of removing a load-bearing wall.
Average Costs of Removing Load Bearing Wall
By compiling information from 5 primary sources and 5 secondary sources, we came up with the following costs of removing a load-bearing wall:
|Wall Size||Estimated Cost|
|Single Doorway – 1m lintel Beam||£1,250|
|Double Doorway – 2m RSJ Beam||£1,750|
|Large Open Plan Room – 4m RSJ Beam Installation||£3,000|
|Remove Waste||£250 - £375|
|Arrange a Party Wall Agreement||£150 - £1,250|
|Completion Certificate||£300 - £550|
|Structural Engineers Inspection||£250 - £500/visit|
|Total Cost: Single Doorway – 1m lintel Beam||£2,050+ w/o Party Wall|
|Total Cost: Double Doorway – 2m RSJ Beam||£2,550+ w/o Party Wall|
|Total Cost: Large Open Plan Room – 4m RSJ Beam Installation||£3,800+ w/o Party Wall|
Factors Affecting the Cost
The following factors affect the cost of removing a load-bearing wall:
Wall Size and Complexity
The size and complexity of the load-bearing wall significantly impact the overall cost.
Larger walls always require more time, labour, and materials, resulting in higher costs.
In addition, structural strengthening required for removing large walls is a specialist job, and the project likely carried out in stages.
Structural Engineer’s Fee
A structural engineer must determine the best method to remove the load-bearing wall without compromising the building’s structural integrity.
Their fees will vary depending on their experience and the project’s complexity but could cost over £500 for complex projects.
Building Control Approval
Removing a load-bearing wall requires approval from local Building Control, which will incur an application fee.
The type of materials used for the temporary supports and the new beam or column will influence the cost. Steel beams, for example, are more expensive than timber but offer greater strength and durability.
The cost of hiring a professional contractor will depend on the job’s complexity and the project’s duration.
Acrow Props Rental
Temporary support (Acrow props) will be necessary during the removal process, and the cost will depend on the number and duration of the rental.
The demolition and removal of the wall will generate waste, which must be disposed of correctly.
Waste disposal fees will depend on the volume and type of waste generated.
Additional Finishing Work
Removing a load-bearing wall requires additional finishing work, such as plastering, painting, and flooring. The cost of these finishing touches will depend on the materials and labour required.
Party Wall Agreement
Performing any structural works to a shared wall (e.g. a wall shared with a neighbour) involves the Party Wall Act.
This includes if the wall is connected to the shared wall. Reaching a Party Wall Agreement can cause £150 to more than £500 if you can’t reach an agreement and must appoint a surveyor to make an objective assessment.
What Does Removing a Load-Bearing Wall Involve?
Regardless of whether you’re looking to create an open space in your home or want to switch some rooms around, you’ll need an initial inspection by a builder.
They’ll analyse the walls’ electrics, pipework, and structural loads. Then, a trained structural engineer will need to inspect and calculate the project’s feasibility and what’s required by ways of strengthening the walls and ceiling.
Inspections can cost more than £500, depending on the structural engineer. This is exceptionally important as it’ll govern what needs to be inserted into the wall and ceiling, which will likely be either an RSJ or lintel beam.
Before starting the project, Building Control must look at the engineer’s assessment and sign off the work. Then, the wall be demolished with temporary supports in place (Acrow props).
An RSJ (rolled steel joint) or lintel beam is inserted to support the ceiling. In some cases, inserting vertical support beams might be necessary, particularly in larger open-plan spaces.
Process of Removing a Load Bearing Wall
Assuming a structural engineer has inspected the building and specified an appropriate RSJ (Rolled Steel Joist) to support the upstairs rooms, the process involves the following steps:
- Remove cables and pipes: Firstly, the contractor will remove and decommission electrical cables, central heating pipes, and other services that could interfere with the demolition.
- Isolate the demolition area: They’ll lay down dust sheets and plastic sheeting on the floor and seal doors with tape and plastic sheets to minimise airborne masonry dust.
- Remove ceiling: They remove ceiling plasterboards approximately 45 cm from the wall to expose joists, cables, and pipes, enabling easy access to the wall’s top.
- Insert Acrow props: Then, props will be inserted to support the ceiling by lifting a piece of timber along the wall’s entire length and temporarily securing it with woodscrews. Acrow props are attached at each end of the timber.
- Remove the upper wall: The contractor will slowly remove the plaster, bricks, or blocks above head height, starting from the top of the wall. Protect the floor from falling masonry with cheap plasterboard and ensure all workers wear protective gear.
- Remove lintel: If a door or window is in the load-bearing wall, they’ll remove the lintel by hacking away the mortar and brick until it is loose.
- Remove the remainder of the wall: They’ll remove the wall masonry and remove decommissioned cables and pipes as they become accessible.
- Prepare RSJ position: Remove brickwork in the supporting walls to create small pockets to accommodate each end of the RSJ. Padstones are inserted in each pocket at the correct height for the RSJ.
- Lift and insert the RSJ: Contractors will position one end of the RSJ at the opening and lift and slide it into the pocket. Then, they’ll insert the RSJ into the second pocket.
- Repair brickwork and plaster: Once the RSJ is in position, the contractor will fill the gaps with mortar and brick to secure the RSJ. Brickwork will need to be repaired and re-plastered.
- Remove Acrow props and tidy up: After the mortar has been set, they’ll remove all Acrow props and clean the area.
- Box in the new RSJ: To comply with local authority fire regulations, all exposed steel surfaces of the RSJ are typically covered with two layers of 12mm-thick plasterboard.
To Sum Up
Removing a load-bearing wall is a complex process that requires the expertise of professionals such as structural engineers and experienced contractors.
The stakes are high, as a poor or miscalculated job could result in serious structural damage to the home.
The removal involves various steps, including inspections, isolating the area, supporting the ceiling with Acrow props, removing the wall, and installing an RSJ to support the upper floor.
Total costs likely exceed £2,000 and range up to £5,000 or more for creating complex open-plan spaces.