Knocking down wall

krycek1984June 13, 2012

I have a question for everyone, hopefully you can answer...

We have the opportunity to move back to my partner's parent's rental house in a very beautiful suburban area (I bought a house in the city we live in right now). The problem is that the house is very dated and needs some work.

Most of the work we want to do to make it somewhat more equivalent to our current house is cosmetic, or it is work that we could do on our own.

There are two major things we can't do on our own:

1. We want to knock part of the wall out between the kitchen and dining room. We don't want to remove the wall completely; just remove some of it so we can see eachother from each room. Unfortunately, that wall used to be an external wall at some point (I believe).

2. I want to put a door in the living room leading outside. The problem is that I have no idea how we could go about putting a door in, and there is baseboard heating so somehow we'd have to make sure the baseboard heating can be accomadated.

The more "pressing" issue is the wall...I suppose we can wait for the door.

How do I go about doing this? I am not sure who I should bring in to see what we can tear out and what we can't. I'm sure since we aren't even knocking the whole thing down that it will be fine, but I'm just not sure. Do I contact a structural engineer? I don't know where to go. I suppose they could also offer advice concerning the door I want to put in.

I'm hoping that since we aren't tearing the whole wall down that we could do it for around $500. My budget for the door is $500 without the cost of the door (so maybe a total of $900).

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I don't think your budget is realistic at all if that is for the entire project (especially since there is baseboard heat, exterior BEARING wall etc. Yes the first thing to do is hire an engineer to determine if what you want to accomplish can be done.

    Bookmark   June 14, 2012 at 8:50AM
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Krycek- I'm no expert, but I've seen this done enough times on HGTV to know that if it's load bearing, you can't just cut a hole in the wall. You have to put up a temporary wall, open up the area of the wall you want open, and then frame it in with a beam and supports...then take out the temporary wall. You'll need someone (like a structural engineer) to determine if it's a load bearing wall and how much weight you need to support. This will determine the size and type of beam you'll need...and if you need any reinforcements in the basement or cellar to support the new beam.

I'm sure this is going to cost more than $500, but I would check with a professional before making any definite decisions. If it wasn't an external wall (nor a load bearing wall) then it would be MUCH easier to open up the space. Better to know for sure...than to guess.

    Bookmark   June 14, 2012 at 6:44PM
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Your budget is about what it would cost for a consult from the structural engineer that you need to create a report for the city to get your permit. Then there is the permit cost and the contractor cost. If the wall has electrical or HVAC in it, besides being load bearing, then your cost also just went up.

On a good day, with there being no hidden structural issues, what you want might cost you 2K if you DIYed it all. For a contractor to do the same job, you might be looking at 3K and up. More if the electrical and HVAC prove to be problematic. Plus permit costs.

And now onto the door project. That obviously needs the HVAC for the room to be re-engineered. How complex that may be will depend on the type of baseboard heating that you have as well as the insulation and window type and a whole host of other issues. You need to have a HVAC person come in and take a look at the system as a whole because if the current system is at the end of it's normal lifespan, just doing one change to it could take it over the edge, or, it could be an extremely cost foolish decision to not address the whole home.

Then, after the HVAC is addressed, you have all of the structural and cosmetic issues to deal with that you would have with any cutting a hole in the exterior envelope to your house. You want to be sure that it's done in a way as to keep your house weathertight as well as done in an aesthetically pleasing manner for the exterior and interior patches to the wall components. This is probably more than a 5K project and could cost as much as 20K if the whole home's HVAC and insulation will need to be addressed.

    Bookmark   June 18, 2012 at 12:43PM
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Krycek- The first thing I would do is get three contractors out to see your house and give you some free estimates. Tell them what you'd like to do (long term) and what you hope to do right away. That might give you some idea what some of these things would cost, what is necessary for permits in your area and whether you can change/move the baseboard heating.

If contractors are as slow in your area as they are in should be able to find some good people. What might normally be too small to bother with, might be a good 'quick job' between major projects. It doesn't hurt to call and ask. And remember, you want FREE estimates :)

    Bookmark   June 18, 2012 at 1:25PM
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Thanks for the guidance and opinions, everyone. I appreciate it.

There is no HVAC...just H. LOL. No ventilation, no AC. In any event, my budget was unrealistic so thanks for the heads-up.

We would not spend 20k on it...that's a bit overboard. I suppose if we want to move back we will just concentrate on doing something with the wall between the kitchen and the dining/living area. We could temporarily live with the situation as is.

I miss the land, but I do not miss the old jumbled up house. It's a shame because the main living area is set up like a modern house - living room, dining, and kitchen in a line.

    Bookmark   June 18, 2012 at 8:44PM
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Krycek- Houses can be fixed (over time) but land is....well, land! And for us, the views are like nothing we'd see in town :)

    Bookmark   June 19, 2012 at 6:35PM
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