Kitchen Renovation: Should I Remove a Wall?
You may be dreaming of a kitchen that is brighter, airier, and more spacious. The way to achieve this would be to remove a wall, but you suspect that’s a huge, costly project.
Or is it? Read this interview with Mark Wardrop, owner of Copperstone Kitchens & Renovations, to find out the facts about removing a wall.
What motivates your clients to explore the idea of removing a wall?
Ottawa homes built in the 60s or earlier typically have a wall between the kitchen and dining room. These days, though, most people don’t have a formal dining room anymore, so they want to remove that barrier as part of the home renovation process.
How much will it cost to remove that wall?
My answer is generally threefold.
1. The cost to take down a wall is not high. When it’s a load-bearing wall, we’ll bring in a structural engineer to figure out what size beam we need and where the point loads will be located. There’s work involved, but it usually isn’t that expensive. If it’s just putting in a beam and the point loads are all fine, then you’re often looking at a couple thousand dollars.
2. The second consideration is what’s running in the wall that’s being removed — electrical, plumbing, heating and cooling? If so, those things will need to be rerouted somehow. You might end up with bulkheads or a pipe chase to hide the pipes. That could add another couple thousand dollars to the budget.
3. The most expensive aspect (which most clients don’t think of on their own) is the fact that taking out a wall usually means enlarging the kitchen. You typically are adding cabinetry and countertops — for an island or peninsula, for example — and these happen to be the priciest components of the kitchen. So if you have the cabinet cost of a kitchen renovation cost in mind, now you’re adding another 20, 30, or 40 percent.
As you can see, most of the cost is not the construction but rather the increased footprint of your kitchen. When I tell that to homeowners, the light bulb goes on, and they respond, “Oh, yeah! That makes sense.”
That said, I was just talking to a client the other day. She wants to move a wall that’s full of cabinets, and taking it out will decrease the amount of cabinetry. Her preference is to have less cabinetry for the sake of removing that barrier. In her case, the total cost may actually come down.
However, 99 times out of 100, taking down a wall will increase your kitchen renovation cost due to the additional cabinetry.
Do you need a permit to remove a wall?
If it’s load-bearing, absolutely. A building permit is important for any structural change.
Will removing a wall increase home value?
Here’s the long answer: House styles shift, typically decade over decade. We’ve just come through a time when open concept has been “the” thing. The kitchen served as the social hub of the house, and therefore you wanted it to be bigger and more open. That involves removing as many walls as possible.
With COVID, some people want to create barriers. There’s a lot of societal change relating to COVID. But will it last, or will we go back to where we were two years ago? I don’t know. However, generally, there is still a trend towards a more open concept. People like the idea of doing things in groups, especially millennials.
In the end, your house value is the amount that a buyer will pay for it. Therefore you want your house to appeal to the potential buyers. Therefore, if the treads continue towards open concept then removing walls will make your home more valuable.
Can you give some pros and cons of moving a wall?
An open concept kitchen creates a much more multifaceted space. For example, parents can work in the kitchen while monitoring their young children or helping with homework.
On the other hand, it takes away the ability to close off the room. If you’re the type of person who wants to be a chef and plate the meal in a separate room, you may wish to have your own personal space when entertaining.
What’s your advice to a homeowner who wants to remove a wall?
You may fear it, but you do not need to. Just ensure that you have really competent people advising you and doing the work. Don’t cut corners when it comes to the structure of your home.