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Question DetailsAsked on 5/17/2014

How much does it cost to remove a load bearing wall?

I have a 1920's colonial and an addition was put on the back of it some 15 years ago. The back wall to the original house was left in place so the access to the family room addition is through the old exterior doorway. I was wondering if anyone had experience with removing a load bearing wall to create a free flow from our kitchen directly into the addition. How much would that usually cost? Assume about a 12-14ft span. Alternatively, we've thought about columns. Is that any difference in price? Thanks in advance for any tips!

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3 Answers

Voted Best Answer

You gave a good description, but without seeing some photos and maybe even the space itself it would still just be a guess.

A few years ago we replaced a significant load bearing beam to raise it up a foot in the new kitchen. It was nearly 17' long with a new LVL beam. For us this was pretty reasonable. The LVL was about $250. And maybe 12-15 2x6s, to temporarily support the ceiling joists, were probably like another $75. The labor was $800. There was also some finish work done afterward, but that was worked into a much bigger job for the entire floor.

Technically speaking, it is likely that you need to have something spec'd out by an engineer or architect, to calculate load, etc. I don't know your area but in most places "a mere contractor, GC, or carpenter" is probably not allowed to just rip out a load-bearing wall without someone who is qualified to do the load calculations (which will be VERY conservative. A brand new LVL will be VASTLY stronger than it really needs to be, but it won't be expensive. The typical contractor will be like "hey we'll sister up two 2x12s", and not really know if that'll do the trick or not. I'm not saying that all guys are like that, but ... it is what it is.

What you are talking about is probably at least a bit more involved and I'd love to give a good estimate but it's hard to say without a better understanding of the space.

You may be looking at $1500 - $3500? It depends on too many specifics that we just can't know without a bunch of photos, and maybe even opening up a wall or ceiling to see exactly how temporary supports could be installed, and where the permanent beam/header could be placed and properly supported. Your span isn't all that big so if at all possible I would do it without columns - it'll be much nicer.

If I were you I would first have a quick consultation with a "professional engineer". They are qualified to calculate load etc - and cost a lot less than a full architect. In my experience, an engineer just wants to provide a quick, proper solution without a lot of extra BS. My experience with architects has been less than favorable. Too much drama and expense and he actually spec'd things wrong and my carpenter had to pick up on it.

Sorry I couldn't be of more help. Good luck!!!

Answered 2 years ago by Jefferson


OK - realize this is general and there are architectural oddities out there that this would not apply to - but generally, if you have roof or floor rafters, joists or trusses resting on the wall, it is load bearing. IF it is on the (typically) narrow "end" of the house where the roof overhangs (typically) with a few flat 2x4 or 2x6 supports under the sheathing) but no joists or rafter tails sticking out over it, then that is a probably a non-load bearing wall, or carrying only the load of one joist bay. Simple flat roofs and one-way peaked roof houses typically have the two long sides load bearing, the narrower ends not - but houses with full gabled roof (slopes all four ways) typically have roof loads bearing on all four walls. Also, ALL exterior walls are load-bearing to at least some extent if there is another story (not including unfinished attic) above them.

A non-load bearing or lightly loaded wall can fairly readily be penetrated, with typically 10-14" deep beam across the gap up to about 12-14 feet without intermediate columns, longer with intermediate columns - allthe way up to full-side glass curtain walls if desired. Of course, if the floor the columns are on is not the bottom floor (another floor or basement or crawl space underneath) then it may be necessary to beef up the supports in the wall under it somewhat. As Jefferson said, can run from a bit less than a thousand in a simple case to maybe $1500 range typically - not including the architectural finishs for and around the new opening or repair of drywall removed to install underlying supports.

IF load bearing, same story but you need a substantial beam overhead to transfer the load, and if it gets to over about 8 feet wide then you are normally into engineered heavy duty structural beams or steel beams, or need intermediate columns or narrow wall segments to carry the load down to the foundation - and substantial beefing up of underlying walls. Typically about $2-5,000 range depending on whether there are walls below the floor you are working on, and width of opening of course. In seismic/ hurricane/ tornado/ high wind areas can run even higher than that for cases where you are taking out more than about half the total wall width, as special wind/sway bracing has to be added in.

Generally, once you get beyond about 8' wide, it will be cheaper to leave in small wall segments or columns as intermediate supports than to use a wide span - cost roughly increases proportional to the square of the open span, so a 16' opening might be closer to 4 times the cost of an 8' rather than the double you would expect just from dimensions. One way you can eliminate columns if you don't want them is using structural plywood panel wall segments formed in arches to carry more load than a normal beam of same arch top dimension.

Generally speaking, in almost all cost areas, cutting more than a normal mandoor sized opening in a wall requires plans from civil/structural engineer before you will be allowed a building permit - and do NOT slough off on this - I have worked probbly a dozen jobs where contractors jumping in and just doing it resulted in significant structural damage to a building, that then required $10K or more in engineering and repairs to bring back to functional and safe condition.

Answered 2 years ago by LCD


Here is a link to a couple of responses to a similar question that might also be of interest to you, though maybe not exactly the same situation:

Answered 2 years ago by LCD


We would put temporary pump jacks open it up remove dented. And to gram the doorway in and install the door . Off the top of my head without looking at it 925.00. Any besides 14 ft wall covering will be different depending on material!

Answered 2 years ago by Guest_9149249

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