Removing a load-bearing wall... $10,000!

ideagirl2May 26, 2011

Omigod. We just got a quote for removing the load-bearing wall between our kitchen and bath. This is apparently an excellent contractor, and he was recommended by our structural engineer--I have no doubt he'll do a good job. But omigod! It's just over $10,000!

The quote is actually for more than just taking out the wall and patching up what's left with drywall so it looks nice--it also includes buying and installing two windows, including one that's going into a space that's currently a door (so he has to build the interior wall after the mason does the exterior, and then put the window in). And installing all the support beams in the basement and on the main floor to take the load that's currently supported by the load-bearing wall.

$10,000! Is this normal? Maybe this is totally normal. It, uh, it certainly adjusts what I was thinking of as the kitchen budget.

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That sounds pretty reasonable. We had a similar shocker for a load bearing wall and redid our design to eliminate that part of the project. I believe we ended up with a better design, but sometimes these things just need to be done.

    Bookmark   May 27, 2011 at 12:12AM
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That doesn't shock me. That's why it's usually better not to mess with load bearing walls or to bump out a wall for an additional foot or two. You need to need it and really want it to justify it.

    Bookmark   May 27, 2011 at 2:30AM
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Sounds like the normal price range for where we live on the East Coast.

    Bookmark   May 27, 2011 at 5:35AM
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We were going to remove a load bearing column that was just under 3' wide. A beam was going up in the ceiling. The cost was a minimum of 3K. We decided not to do it since it was purely aesthetic and not adding space. We did cut back the piece of wall to about 18" and reinforced it with additional concrete. Maybe that will help you judge. We live in So. FLorida and GC'd the remodel ourselves so there was that savings.

    Bookmark   May 27, 2011 at 5:45AM
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Did he itemize parts of the job?

For our DIY wall removal in the kitchen, we paid:

Structural Engineer - $300 for load calculations (City did not require drawings or it would have been more)

Materials - $250 for various lumber, beam, fasteners, joist hangers etc

Permit - $75

Dumpster - $285 - needed it for the reno anyway, so this isn't an incremental expense.

Friends/family - $50 for beer - cheapest labor around.

The material and technical parts of this are pretty cheap, but the labor is extensive. You can demo and build temp walls with 1 or 2 people, but you need a crew to get a large beam up into a ceiling.

    Bookmark   May 27, 2011 at 8:52AM
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removing the load-bearing wall between our kitchen and bath.


This certainly takes "open concept" to a new level....

    Bookmark   May 27, 2011 at 9:14AM
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Prima facie that does not sound high, sorry to say.

    Bookmark   May 27, 2011 at 9:23AM
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We initially considered widening the entryway to our galley kitchen - it turned out to be a load-bearing wall, and we were told it would be at least $2500 and probably more like $5k to widen the doorway from 3 ft to 6 ft. We're in the DC area if that helps in terms of cost comparisons. Like others, we've opted not to mess with the wall at this stage since we're trying to keep this as quick and simple as possible. My thought was also that if I'm going to start messing with the structure of the house, I really want an architect involved and it would probably become a much bigger project than we want or can afford.

    Bookmark   May 27, 2011 at 9:52AM
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Exactly why we didn't chose to remove our wall between kitchen and family room, we would have also lost half the space for cabinets. My whole kitchen reno budget was $10K.

    Bookmark   May 27, 2011 at 10:18AM
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that sounds about right to me. labour is expensive and if this guy is really good, he's probably worth every penny.

    Bookmark   May 27, 2011 at 10:29AM
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I'm in the middle of a kitchen/dining/family room renovation now which involves removing a load bearing wall which will turn our galley style kitchen in to a large u-shape kitchen. My costs have all been itemized and the removal of the main wall costs almost exactly $10K. This involves "flushing" in three 19 ft laminate beams which alone cost about $1K. Also had to put a post through the floor into the foundation where the beams attach on one end.

Also opened one other wall into the family room which was not weight bearing and the cost was substantially less (like $2K - $3K I believe).

My GC is very good and a long time family friend so these prices were by far the cheapest. I had one estimate come in $50K higher!! I'm in Bergen County, NJ just outside of NYC if that helps. If it helps you visualize, I'm happy to take some pictures as the walls are still all open at this point.

    Bookmark   May 27, 2011 at 10:54AM
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we are removing 1 loadbearing wall plus 2 other walls from kitchen and dining room, sheetrocking 2 doorways, putting up beams etc -our quote is $12K from one contractor. We are on the east coast.

    Bookmark   May 27, 2011 at 11:09AM
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We removed part of our outside wall to bump the kitchen out 3'. I am also in NJ and code required that we use a steel beam on steel supports instead of microlams. Way overengineered but it's code (sigh). I don't know the breakdown as we are doing a lot of stuff, but yeah, $10K sounds pretty reasonable.

    Bookmark   May 27, 2011 at 11:11AM
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yeah. most people don't even want the door to a bathroom from the kitchen area. I guess this is to avoid the door...

    Bookmark   May 27, 2011 at 12:35PM
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Hahaha. Kitchen and bath. I think I was so traumatized by the $$ that I temporarily lost fluency in my native language. Yes, I meant kitchen and dining room.

The point of doing it is to widen the kitchen (our kitchen is only 10'6" wide, and it's U-shaped) and to create a space for casual eating/feeding kids breakfast/having friends hang out.

    Bookmark   May 27, 2011 at 1:30PM
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Hi idealgirl..

We had a choice about whether to knock out a wall (I don't know if it was load-bearing or not) and add 54 sq. feet to our family/kitchen/breakfast nook area. It cost about 20K, but it really improved the area...It would have been a mistake, in my opinion, to leave it as it was and would have defeated the purpose of our kitchen remodel. It would have really been cramped. We plan on being here forever...

Are you planning on staying in this home for a very long time? I would say do it if it is really going to improve the place and you have years to enjoy it. Maybe choose more budget friendly appliances, cabinets, or counters and floors to pay for it.


    Bookmark   May 27, 2011 at 2:13PM
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Noooooo!1 Ideagirl2 can't do budget-friendly finishes! She's responsible for carrying the torch of our Art Deco dreams!

Would a header really bother you there? That's where a lot of the expense comes in. Can you work around one?

    Bookmark   May 27, 2011 at 2:25PM
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There are really only 2 subject areas that make up almost all of the Holmes on Holmes and Holmes Inspection shows on HGTV....water infiltration and messing with the load bearing structures. When you see the problems caused by either you want someone well qualified to alleviate the issue. $10K seems fine.

    Bookmark   May 27, 2011 at 4:16PM
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Very good point, Johnny153. :-)

Marcolo, I will ask if the price would change much if we left a header there instead of recessing the support beam into the ceiling. I'm fine either way--if anything, a header looks more vintage--but yeah, it hadn't occurred to me that that might be affecting the price. Thanks.

Kitchenaddict, we're planning on being here another several years or so. Could be 5 years, who knows. Basically the only reason to move would be if our ideal home appeared on the market at a good price. This could be our forever home if it had more land (we need room for a mad-scientist workshop for my husband; a large detached garage would do, but there's no room for one on our property). So I refuse to endure our horrible kitchen, and it kind of seems wasteful to do a remodel that you know you or almost anyone would change in a very specific way (taking out this wall) if they had the money.

Also I rationalize that resale value would be improved by making the kitchen/DR more kid-friendly, with the addition of casual seating and the ability to watch kids in the DR while you are in the kitchen. This is a family neighborhood and the previous owners sold the house when they got pregnant. I'm guessing they decided they didn't want to deal with the necessary remodel.

As for budget-friendly finishes and appliances, the appliances are already bought and they're not particularly budget friendly, but not outrageous (E-lux CD French-door fridge, Fratelli Onofri vintage-looking range, Asko DW). So maybe I can think of myself as already having saved money by not buying Lacanche, etc.! Yeah! That's a nice way of thinking about it.

We're probably getting a Modern Aire hood, though, so the logic kind of breaks down there... :-)

    Bookmark   May 27, 2011 at 5:47PM
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Ya' had me thinking budget till you got to Modernaire! You can combine budget and high end ... I did and it looks great!

    Bookmark   May 27, 2011 at 6:23PM
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I can't believe I didnt' think to show you what it ended up looking like for us. We kept the header and part of a wall.
From Drop Box

this is what it looks like at eye level when you come into the house (tiny house)
From Drop Box

    Bookmark   May 27, 2011 at 7:02PM
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it will cost less to use a dropped header.... Everyone has their opinions. THose that didn't do it, think it looks fine and isn't worth the money to flush it up.

those of us who flushed it up think its worth it.

I don't know exactly, how much mine cost, we are doing a whole house remodel. I had a cape style house and I flushed up/removed the entire load bearing interior wall that ran down teh middle of the house, it broke up what is now my kitchen into the dining room, and divided my living room in 2. I do know it took 4 pieces of steel and 6 microlams (2 peices of steel per side of the stairs, and 3 microlams per side) the steel total was $2500. I also had to add a steel support column in my basement on a footing.

in my situation, I was removing bedrooms to open up the kitchen, and living room it was definately worth it. It made the renovation completely integrated and looks like a colonial not a renovated cape. you have to decide whether it looks natural where you have it, or unsightly.

    Bookmark   May 31, 2011 at 1:19PM
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Fori is not pleased

That must be why mine was done without a permit.

I wonder how much it is to replace a loadbearing wall. And do I need a permit?

I think that price sounds reasonable, but I've never actually priced it out before.

    Bookmark   May 31, 2011 at 2:14PM
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Oh, heck yeah, you need a permit. But that's not what makes it expensive. It's the labor and materials that make it expensive. Where I live I think the permit is less than $50.

I haven't gotten a quote yet for doing it with the dropped header. We're getting another bid and I'm resigned to its being about the same price...

    Bookmark   May 31, 2011 at 9:05PM
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