Open Things Up

By Joanne Loos Posted in: ImproveThe Fix is In

One of the simplest ways to transform your environment into a spacious oasis is to take down a wall. Just ask these questions before you start

I’ve always been somewhat of a TV junkie. It’s a guilty pleasure, but I find that it’s one of the best ways to give my brain a break after a long day. My go-to programs are those that feature home renovations.

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Shows like this help me to dream, and they also show me that simple steps make big impacts. One of my favorite “quick” transformations is when remodelers take down walls. Opening up a room does wonders. It allows you to enjoy spaces in your home without feeling separated from others. It can connect spaces, add light and create flow. But it’s not an easy job, and certainly not one for everyone. If you have a space you’d like to open up, consider these things first:

What’s inside the wall? Your wall may have electric cables, wires or plumbing pipes hidden inside. More importantly, there may be structural support columns or beams within. The good news is that these things can be relatively easy to locate, especially if you have access to the top and bottom of the wall. The bad news is that some of these things, such as the plumbing or support columns, can be difficult and extremely costly to reroute. Consult a trusted contractor to assess the situation.

How many floors are in your home? If your home is a one-story structure, chances are that the cost of removing a wall will be much lower. A two-story home has added pressure on the walls, making the removal of one a more difficult process. Consult a professional such as a structural engineer before doing any demolition.

What does the floor look like on either side of the wall? Patching floors seamlessly is not an easy task, especially if they are made of hardwood. If you plan to replace your hardwoods, it makes sense to take down the wall at the same time. If you have carpet, it can be patched relatively easily.

Can you get away with a partial removal? Creating a pass-through can open up your home and give you extra storage and counter space at the same time. Plus, you won’t have to worry about patching up the floors in the process. The renovation can often be done for a fraction of the cost of a whole-wall removal. Just keep in mind that you still need to take the other precautions, such as making sure the wall is not load-bearing and assessing utilities running through it.

Have a comment or question for Joanne? Email thefixisinhawaii@gmail.com.